Bay Circuit Trail Section 7B

Posted By on June 8, 2017

7.83 miles; Andover, Tewksbury, and Lowell, MA

This was the best of hikes, it was the worst of hikes… Not actually, but the first half was quite nice, while the second half was both on a bogus trail and in the city of Lowell. So not wonderful. Still, I got it done. The BCT ends here and picks up a few miles south. They’re still working on a connection.

The Merrimack River

The Merrimack River

After a tiny bit of road-walking, this section commenced on the very pretty Deer Jump Reservation in Andover. I followed a lovely pine needle covered trail that meandered along the banks of the Merrimack River for several miles.

Dame's Rocket

Dame’s Rocket

The dame’s rocket flowers were lovely, massed alongside the ferns by the trail. Unfortunately, these beauties are a non-native invasive species. Alas.

Sturdy Bridge

Sturdy Bridge

All along this trail I crossed many little streams, tributaries to the river beside me, and in Andover, at least, all the crossings were along sturdy bridges. Sometimes the trail had to detour a bit inland from the riverbank to make the crossing, but it always returned to the river.

Rip-Rap Embankment

Rip-Rap Embankment

Alas, the idyllic trail along the Merrimack ended, as all trails must. First with a rather long road-walk, then into a large cemetery, and finally back to the river along what was euphemistically named the “Merrimack River Trail.” Right. This stretch follows a miles-long rip-rap embankment. In the photo, above, it’s pretty clear, but it varied considerably from this pristine stretch to stretches that were WILDLY overgrown with invasives like black swallowwort, poison ivy, sumac, and bittersweet. And because it’s on stone, there is no clear trail to follow, just thigh-deep vegetation. It was nasty. These nasty sections were interspersed with encroachment by the many homeowners whose homes backed up to the embankment, so I passed through lots of make-shift patios with picnic tables and seating areas and firepits, as well. One homeowner even had the nerve to put up a no-trespassing sign which I righteously ignored.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

All the while, however, the Merrimack River rolled on beside me, and I caught glimpses of wildlife, like this heron waiting patiently for lunch to swim by.

Downtown Lowell

Downtown Lowell

The Merrimack River “trail” finally spit me out onto a city street near the hospital in downtown Lowell, where I gamely soldiered on, passing the impressive Lowell Memorial Auditorium, to eventually arrive at the Concord River Greenway, which is a short little riverside park, and thus finally to Howe Street, the end of this section, and of the Bay Circuit Trail through here. The BCT picks up again in Chelmsford, on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

You can read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the GPS track.

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