Where Are The Top 10 Places To Hike In Boston?
Even though Boston is known for having a compact downtown that is full of old winding alleys and streets, it is also home to an amazing wealth of parkland and open spaces. Residents and tourists alike have the chance to hike or walk while enjoying the landscape of the urban areas that are framed by grass and trees. So, for those who love being outdoors, there are 10 places in and near Boston that are perfect hiking spots for those of all ages and fitness levels.
Keep in mind that hiking in Boston does not really exist. However, you do not have to step far beyond the skyline to find a trail waiting for you to explore it.
The Charles River is wide and it runs just within a few blocks of the bustling downtown area. It is bordered by the massive esplanade park. At its busiest point at the Boston Common and Park Street lies a green swatch of land known as the Emerald Necklace. This connects a continuous 1,100 acre of linked parks, public gardens, ponds, fens and even an arboretum into a chain that all connects to around seven miles of walking and hiking paths.
If you venture around the city, you will find that the lush, green and leafy suburbs all have reserves and parks of public land with gentle hills for hikers to climb in order to get the best views of the city’s gorgeous skyline. There are also miles of trails that are right along the bay and the rivers.
Fortunately for visitors, many of these walking trails and paths pass very close to the tourist attractions in Boston including:
In fact, two of the city’s walking trails will take you to some of the most iconic locations in Boston. Then, there is another hiking trail that traces along the same route the Minutemen took at the Battles of Concord and Lexington.
It does not matter what your interests are, if you enjoy being active outdoors and you are looking for some places to hike and walk while in the city of Boston, you will find the following guide of the top 10 places to hike in Boston the ultimate guide to your next adventure.
Over 100 years ago, a innovative and preeminent landscape architect by the name of Frederick Law Olmsted had a vision of creating a long greenway that connected the suburbs to the city of Boston. This vision was later coined the Emerald Necklace, and this initial design has remained intact over the last century.
The green space connects over 1000 acres in several different parks from Franklin Park to the Boston Common.
You can choose to walk the entire seven miles, or you can walk specific areas of the green space. There is also the option of returning to your starting point by foot, or you can use public transportation.
If you choose to take public transportation, the route will pass several landmarks and attractions like Boston’s famous Swan Boats, a beautiful rose garden, two art museums, a wildflower meadow and the historic Fenway Victory Gardens.
The Great Blue Hill has a 630-foot summit and it is the highest of the over 20 Blue Hills that are protected by over 6,000 acres of the reservation. This part of the reservation stretches from parts of Quincy, Canton, Randolph, Milton, and Dedham. It even includes parts south of Boston.
Hikers are rewarded with a stunning sweeping view of the metropolitan area from the rocky hilltop. However, this only one part of the park’s 120 miles of hiking and walking trails. Some of the trails lead to sites that prove that Native Americans once settled in the area, and others lead to what is left from 16th century farms and old quarries.
The natural habitants of the park are protected and you can explore them while on trails that lead to old ponds, swamps and marshes. You will walk through highlands and lowland forests, an Atlantic white cedar bog and meadows.
The six-mile Skyline loop will require hikers to be in great physical health as it involves rock scrambles and many ups and downs along the loop. Those who want to stick with a more casual stroll should stick to the 2.5-mile long Wolcott and Border trail.
This is an ideal hiking spot if you want to enjoy a variety of trails, but you do not want to venture too far away from Boston proper.
You can begin exploring this by taking a scenic two-mile walk along the shore and over the rock ledge that slope down to the sea. It begins past The Emerson Inn, which is an old beautiful historic hotel that overlooks the sea in Rockport on Cathedral Avenue. It continues to the Halibut Point State Park. From there, you will find 3 miles of trails that are along even more rocky shore. An old granite quarry is along the route that has since been filled by springs.
The unique feature of this trail is that it appears to tell a story about the quarry’s operation and the interesting history of this point. The granite that was cut and quarried in this area was used as paving stones, and also to build Boston’s Custom House Tower.
Although its name sounds very ominous, there are many things that hikers will discover that they like about this hiking spot. It is a nature preserve that is located about 15 miles outside of Boston. This 250-acre park is filed with features such as scenic shorelines, rolling hills and beautiful views of the city. More importantly, it offers miles of walking trails that are waiting to be explored.
As hikers walk these paths, they will feel as though they have stepped back into time. Day hikers will be able to quietly stroll through the lush forests while numerous species of birds zip back and forth from one tree to another.
Just like the harbor islands, the hills of the World’s End are consider drumlins. They are what was left after the glaciers retreated. These glaciers also scraped the granite ledges bare, and they are now covered in cedar and blueberry bushes.
The trails skirt cross woodlands, meadows and saltwater marshes. These are very important habitants for the native plants and birds. From the shore and hills, there are clear views of the city’s skyline. Winding through the park under a natural tree canopy are the carriage lanes that were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, a landscape architect. The walking trails and carriage lanes combine to create almost 5 miles for moderate hiking.
This is a gorgeous level path that runs through riverside wetlands and forests, and seems to be far removed from its historical context. The first shots that rang out of the American Revolution and the famous ride of Paul Revere occurred along this path.
Also along this part of the Battle Road, troops were attacked by Minutemen who were firing from behind the wall. The trail also follows the route of the Minutemen as they began to move from the first skirmish on Lexington Green to the Battle at Concord Bridge.
When hiking this five-mile route, you will want to take some time to read the historical markers that are placed at strategic locations. There are also displays and medial presentations in the visitor’s center.
Even though this hiking trail is open year round, the visitor center is only open from April to October.
So secluded that is almost unknown to anyone who is not a local, this 640-acre reservation known as Breakheart lies along a wild and untouched part of the Saugus River, which is just north of Boston.
Inside of the hardwood forest are seven hills and two lakes. There are also rocky outcrops that are a little over 200 feet high, but they are high enough above the forest for hikers to get views of Boston and southern New Hampshire.
The hiking trails circle both of the lakes, and they also border the river. The trails form loops around the park.
The riverbanks are a very popular spot for birders, and in the summer, it is not uncommon for the park to be crowded with swimmers at the two lake beaches. If that is the case, you may have the hiking trails all to yourself. If peace and solitude is what you are seeking while you are hiking, this is the best spot for spending some quiet time on the trail.
With almost 2600 acres of rocky hill terrain, the Middlesex Fells Reservation is for the most serious hikers. It is also ideal for walkers who enjoy a challenging trail.
Hikers will find the five-hour hike very demanding in the seven-mile Skyline Trail. The trail goes across a terrain strewn with boulders that sits among the ponds and woods. There are repeated descents and climbs.
The primary trail leaves from Bellevue Pond and leads up to Pine Hill. It is topped with an observation tower that has sweeping views across the reservation and looks over to Boston.
There are over 100 miles of trails that go through the reservation and reveals ponds, meadows, and Virginia Wood. This is also an interpretative trail that leads through this hemlock forest.
This is the tallest mountain that is near Boston. At a height of 2006 feet, this is a popular mountain with skiers during the winter, and it is popular among hikers the other three seasons of the year.
On a clear day, the view is extended from the Berkshires in Massachusetts to the Boston skyline to Mount Monadnock located in New Hampshire.
Surrounding the summit is a 3,000 acre reservation by the name of Wachusett Mountain State Reservation. it protects ponds, mountain meadows, forests, fields, streams and a raised bog. All of this can be explored on the 17 miles of walking and hiking trails. It also includes almost 4 miles of the Midstate Trail. This trail runs from the state of New Hampshire to the border of Rhode Island.
Although Hopkinton may be better known as being the starting point for the Boston Marathon, it is also the home of a great state park. There are plenty of trails at different levels that will have you feeling as though you have traveled very far away from the center of the city, and you do not have to worry about taking a long drive.
After you have finished hiking, you can go paddling in the waters of the Hopkinton Reservoir, or you can go for a cooling swim.
Travel north of the city to Harold Parker State Forest if you are looking cozy campgrounds, wooded trails and the perfect freshwater body of water for swimming.
There are tons of hiking options at this state park, but one of the most popular is the Yellow Diamond. This is a 6.3-mile trail that is considered by many to be moderately difficult. It takes hikers near Salem Pond and the woodlands, both of which offers up tranquil views. For your cooldown, take a dip in Berry Pond.
So, if you are looking for the perfect day trip, weekend getaway or vacation, and you love the outdoors, Boston should definitely be added to your travel bucket list. Culturally and historically, the city is considered one of the most intriguing in the entire country. You will not only find great hiking trails, but you will also be in a place that has historical significance in the founding of this country.
On top of that, the city is also known for having a vibrant nightlife, great restaurants and a thriving art scene. Fortunately, if you ever find that the fast pace of the city is a little too overwhelming for you, you can pack your gear and head out to one of the top 10 places to hike in and near Boston.