The 0.8 mile (1.2 km) path runs from Brighton Street in Belmont, Massachusetts to the Alewife station at the northern end of the MBTA Red Line in Cambridge. At its Cambridge terminus, the trail connects with three other multi-use paths—the Minuteman Bikeway, the Alewife Brook path and the Cambridge Linear Park, which, in turn, leads to the Somerville Community Path.
The Fitchburg Cutoff Path largely runs through Alewife Brook Reservation, with several side paths through the reservation leading to the Little River and a nearby industrial park. The trail starts at a new pedestrian bridge just northwest of the Alewife station, across the street from the south end of the Minuteman Path. The western trail head is marked by small signs, just north of where the MBTA rail line crosses Brighton Street. The west end is served by the MBTA #78 bus, with a stop just south of the railroad tracks.
The path underwent a $4.67M upgrade for the path, including a new pedestrian bridge at Alewife. The path was temporarily closed for construction on September 1, 2010. The new bridge and the eastern part of the path reopened on August 23, 2013 after the construction of a storm water management wetland near Alewife Station.
In April 2014, state officials announced that the Somerville Community Path will be extended alongside the Green Line Extension, which would have created a continuous route from the Fitchburg Cutoff Path via the Alewife Linear Park to Boston’s Charles River Bike Path. As a result of budget over runs, the community path will now terminate at Washington Street, Somerville. South of Washington Street, bike commuters will have to use city streets to reach the Charles River Bike Path network and downtown Boston.
The path follows a minor portion of the right-of-way of an abandoned rail line known as the Fitchburg Cutoff or B&M Freight Cutoff (reflecting its acquisition by the Boston and Maine Railroad). The freight cutoff linked the Fitchburg Railroad main line (now the MBTA Fitchburg Line) with the Boston and Lowell Railroad main line (now the MBTA Lowell Line). It ran from the Fitchburg Line near Brighton Street, Belmont, crossed the Lexington and Arlington Railroad at what is now the northwestern corner of Alewife Station, passed through Davis Square (West Somerville), and connected with the Lowell Line at Somerville Junction (with a station at the present-day park near Centre and Woodbine Streets).
The main portion (between Alewife and Somerville Junction) had been constructed by the Boston and Lowell Railroad to connect its main line to the Lexington and Arlington Railroad; the remainder west of Alewife forms what is now known as the Fitchburg Cutoff Path. Except for deviation in the first quarter mile east of Alewife, the right-of-way between Alewife and Davis Square became the underground Red Line (MBTA) extension in the 1980s. Portions of the surface between Alewife and the Lowell Line (including over the Red Line) have been turned into the Cambridge Linear Park and the Somerville Community Path, and the remainder is slated to become an eastward extension of the Community Path.