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Frequently asked questions

Q

What is the Boston Greenbelt Walk?

The Boston Greenbelt Walk - is a 32-mile, one-day walk between Newton and Malden, MA. The Boston Greenbelt Walk is a new major event created by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) with the support of the FreeWalkers to encourage the public to explore trails and the potential to connect major open spaces in the Greater Boston area.

Last year the walk started in Malden and ended in Newton. For 2015, the walking route will be the same but in reverse. i.e., from Newton to Malden.

Consistent with most of our walks, we utilize public transportation where possible to facilitate participation and minimize the impact on the environment. This walk starts at Newton Waban T station and ends at the Oak Grove Station Orange MBTA T  line in Malden where participants can begin and end by public transport. There is also an option to start at Riverside Station in Newton (total of 30miles to Malden).

Whereas, last year we encouraged others to join the walk at various points along the route, this year we are recommending joining the walk at either Waban or Riverside stations at the appropriately scheduled times. This will help us better manage the event and those participating. We enourage walkers to walk as far as you would like if you choose not to walk the entire distance. There are many points of public transportation along the way which you can utilize if you need to.

There's plenty of parking at both beginning pints of Oak Grove and Riverside stations ($6 per day) and at the end point at Oak Grove station. This walk is a combination of walking on single track, dirt trails, hardpack, and paved surface trail, sometimes through established communities, and along streets and sidewalks. It's a challenging personal event which is free and open to the public.  

 

Q

Can anyone walk the Boston Greenbelt Walk?

Yes, the walk is open to any individual. Keep in mind that this is not a race. The main group of walkers expect to finish in about 13 hours. This assumes being able to walk at a fairly brisk pace, with some rest stops along the way. That represents an average of about 2.5 mph. A fairly fast pace for an individual comfortable with walking is 4 mph, but very few people can maintain that pace for long. Also, be aware that walking on wooded paths often reduces your speed to closer to 2 mph. Advanced groups may not wait for walkers who cannot stay with the pace. Chances are, you will meet walkers with a variety of experience and skill to match your objectives. Or bring a friend or family member along.
 
To accommodate various skills and fitness levels, you may walk at your own pace. We will provide suggested spots where you might consider tailing off. We will be posting a schedule of times where we anticipate the group will be passing various locations so you can plan ahead. You might want to consider setting a shorter walk objective of, say, 2 miles, 7 miles, 10 miles or 15 miles. It will be the responsibility of the walker to find transportation back to their home or starting point. The route is designed to promote the use of public transportation, especially MBTA trains and buses, to assist you in getting to the event and back home.

Q

Why are you doing this event?

The event provides a way for the general public to participate together in a large-scale form of exercise while visiting a variety of communities and unique areas from a closer vantage point. In utilizing an available recreational resource, we hope to demonstrate the benefit of these types of resources to the public, which we hope in turn will help guide future urban/suburban planning projects. 
 
Distance walking and "pedestrianism" is as old as mankind. It is as a result of our dependence on automobiles and other forms of transportation that our society has changed the look of its communities. In more recent times, commercial business and roads have marginalized our communities and caused us to limit the use of self-propelled travel. There are health and societal implications to our past policies. Our walking events follow a national movement to consider pedestrian traffic (walking and cycling) in all community and transportation projects.

Q

Does it cost anything to participate in the event?

No. This walking event is FREE and open to the general public and is organized jointly by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and other trail groups, and the FreeWalkers, a free, social network of individuals promoting long distance walking and related events for the general public.

We may designate a charity or non-profit as a partner for the walk. In that situation, donations will not be required but may be suggested.

Walkers should be plan to be self-sufficient by bringing their own food and supplies, or by being prepared to pay for them along the way. We will post more information on available support in the future.

Sign up now for our email list to stay on top of general news about the event. To sign up as a participant you will need to register at Eventbrite.com. Registered participants get the latest event information and will be able to set their own walking goals. After the walk, we will survey participants, post results for registered walkers, and tally with others for the total miles walked that day. 

Q

Is walking on these trails and other areas dangerous?

The area of our route should be safe provided walkers stay on the designated route and obey traffic laws. Most of the route will be clearly marked: Certain trail segments, are maintained by the trail groups. But walkers should rely on the maps and cue sheets that will be provided for guidance. All walkers are advised to use caution and watch where they are walking, especially with uneven terrain.

Walkers who take part in this event should not walk alone, if possible. A schedule of time and places will be posted. Walkers should always be aware of their surroundings and be visible to traffic. Phone numbers will be provided for walkers who need assistance. Walkers should be prepared to provide a mobile phone number and individual to contact during the event.

Q

How long does this walk take? Where do I start and finish?

The route will start from the Waban or Riverside Stations. The walk ends in  Oak Grove Station parking lot in Malden.

Trips between the stops are inexpensive. Because MBTA lines connect to downtown Boston and are running on a Saturday schedule, there should be ample mass transportation options. We ask that you be present by 6:30 a.m. to sign in and be briefed on the day's activities.  If you leave a car at the finish at Oak Grove station, allow 1.5 hours to travel to the start at either Waban or Riverside stations using the T.  

You can expect to start walking from Waban station at 7:00 a.m.and Riverside Station at 8:00 a.m. We expect groups to finish in about 11-13 hours (assuming a few breaks and lunch along the way). If you would like to walk a shorter distance, you should plan for transit or a pick up along the way. NOTE; This year we are recommending join this event at only the two starting points and not along the way. Even if you walk at a slower pace, there will be plenty of time to finish in the afternoon. While we ask everyone to check in with the group when starting, there is no need to check-out when finishing. Keep in mind that if you will be walking at a slower pace you might want to bring a flashlight or headlamp in case darkness sets in.

You can provide us feedback on your walk later online through the online survey. We will attempt to contact you based on your registration and signup information and ask that you complete the post-event survey. If for some reason you walk but do not register, there will be a link on the websites to the online survey.
 

Q

What if I can't make it all the way?

Walkers should plan in advance. They should know train stations that are located along their route or alternate transportation such as busses. We stongly suggest having a backup resource, friend or family member, to pick you up in case of a problem. Even muscle aches and blisters can make for an uncomfortable journey.

The route runs through suburban areas with places to park, assuming you have arranged for a car or someone to meet you. There will be no support provided if a walker cannot finish.

Remember, that walking even 10 miles can be a difficult physical task that requires stamina. Consider a shorter distance goal and always have a contingency plan.

Q

What happens if it rains or we experience other bad weather conditions?

Currently, there is no rain date. But this is not final. At this time of the year, all day heavy rains may cause a cancellation, but thunderstoms will not. Check back at the event website http://bostongreenbeltwalk.org or FreeWalkers.org or Eventbrite.com for final details near the day of the event. We'll also keep in touch up to the last minute via email.

Q

I'm not used to walking that long a distance. How can I train for the event?

While most individuals who are fairly physically fit should have no problem walking at least 10-15 miles, there are some points to note on long distance walking. The main difference in this type of distance walk is the hard surface, length of time and the number of repetitious steps. While walking can be a much less intense form of exercise than common aerobic sports like running, you should consider that you'll be walking up to 12 hours (depending on your speed and plan). The walk takes place at a variety of elevations and on surfaces including wooded paths, hard-packed trails, sidewalk and road asphalt. The sport of long distance walking is essentially one about endurance and preparation.

The most common reason to not complete the distance is exhaustion and/or blisters and foot problems. These can be avoided by proper hydration, nutrition and carefully considering the right shoes and socks. Even so, walking this distance can be a difficult task. The best form of training is to practice walking by starting a planned program of walking near your home and slowly building, week by week, to at least a 10 mile loop. There is specific information on training for the event available on the website under "Tips." Why not start walking now?

Q

Who do I contact to find out more and to keep up to date on the event?

Visit this website for the most current information about the walk and other useful information. We will also post information on the event in on the event registration page at either:

If you register for the walk, you will automatically get all emails related to the event. If you just want to track the latest information, be sure to sign up for the email general news on the home page. This will provide you with ongoing current information.