Just last week, I made a spectacularly beautiful climb to the peak of one of the most climbed mountains in the world, Mount Monadnock. Here are some other ways to get your feet moving right around this urban center by guest writer, Dylan Moskowitz.
So you’ve made the move to the hub of the universe. Boston’s got plenty to do for seafood lovers, culture vultures, history buffs, sports fans–we’d take all day listing what the city has to offer, from restaurants to activities. But for the more outdoorsy among us, Beantown’s winding streets, corner bars and historic houses can occasionally just a little cramped. When you’re tired of great cuisine and games at Fenway, what do you do? Outdoor enthusiasts might feel they’re somewhat at a loss, especially if they’re new to the city.
Nature lovers, never fear. Not only are there numerous parks and walks near Boston (over 2,000 acres of green space): gorgeous hiking trails, reserves and state parks sit just outside of the city. Some are even accessible by public transit. Whether a day trip, a short jog or a week-long camp, there’s no better way to experience New England than outdoors.
Within city limits is one of Boston’s greatest treasures, the Emerald Necklace, a series of interconnected parks and green spaces spanning 1,200 acres. Parks and trails wind over seven miles of Boston, from Back Bay to Dorchester. Each park has its own attractions, trails, and gardens—worth a day or more’s exploration for sure. For hikers and joggers, you’ll almost certainly want to stop by Franklin Park, the largest park of this series, with over 15 miles of pedestrian trails. The park also houses several athletic fields, an 18-hole golf course, and the Franklin Park Zoo, a noted Boston attraction.
Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park
If you’ve been dreaming of a weekend camping trip, it’s just a ferry ride away. Boston Harbor Islands State Park offers camping, hiking and natural sights, as well as plenty of history. Four of the eight islands (namely, Bumpkin, Grape, Lovells and Peddocks) have campgrounds—but you’ll find things to do at every island. Spectacle Island and Little Brewster in particular are not to be missed. From Spectacle Island, you can find one of the Islands’ best views (not to mention plenty of beaches), while Little Brewster boasts Boston Light, the oldest lighthouse in the country. Each island is between 20 minutes to an hour’s ride on the ferry.
Blue Hills Reservation
The largest park within an hour of Boston’s city limits, Blue Hills Reservation has over 125 miles of trails that traverse through marshes, swamps, upland forests, and over 22 hills. The tallest peak in the park (and the tallest peak on the Atlantic coast, south of Maine) is the summit of Great Blue Hill, a 635-foot view. Climb to the hill’s craggy top and you’ll see across the reservation’s hills and marshes all the way to Boston’s skyline. Take a second look on a clear day, too, and you’ll even catch a glimpse of Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire’s peak nearly 70 miles away.
Skiing? Check. Horseback riding? Check. Biking? Check. Hiking? Check. Only 15 miles outside of the city, World’s End has outdoor activities for almost every kind of outdoor enthusiast. The 251-acre park covers over rolling hills, craggy granite shorelines, and miles of blueberry bushes. For bird watchers and amateur naturalists, World’s End trails offer an extra treat, as the area is a habitat for many local bird and plant species. The walking trails encompass roughly 4.5 miles of land, a moderate and enjoyable hike for beginners near Boston.
Charles River Reservation
Walk the Charles River Link and you’ll see some of Boston’s best views, including a view of the Boston skyline. The Charles River runs between Boston and Cambridge, with the reservation providing walking and hiking trails on either side. The Charles River Link, a 16-mile trail that picks up parts of the reservation and connects back to other parks and green spaces across the city, including a loop around Longfellow Pond. You’ll experience every part of Boston and its surrounding areas, and catch a picture-perfect look at the Charles.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
Serious hikers, take note. Just 10 miles outside of Boston, Middlesex Fells Reservation spreads over 2,575 acres of wilderness and woods. The reservation’s most popular trail, Skyline Trail, is a real hiker’s challenge. The trail will take you seven miles across boulders, ponds and woods to an observation tower where you can view the park and, in the distance, the Boston skyline. 100 more miles of trails traverse the hemlock forest—even a mill village that seemingly vanished.
You’ve tried all of Boston’s local trails and hikes, and now you’re looking for another challenge. Enter the Presidential Range, a challenging hike three hours outside of Boston in Gorham, New Hampshire. The Presidential Traverse trail, spanning 23 miles, covers the most challenging parts of the Range, crossing seven peaks nearly 9,000 feet tall at their summits. Neither the Traverse nor the Range are for the faint of heart—the Traverse takes about three days to complete—but if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best sights in New England.
What are your favorite hikes you have done around Boston? Please let me know in the comments below.