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Great places to hike in and around Boston | UB today

Easy access to hikes of less than a mile to three hours

With a population of over 689,000, Boston is New England’s largest city, and with 4.9 million people residing in the greater metropolitan area, it can often feel crowded. Luckily, the area has over 2,000 acres of open space, much of which is accessible by public transportation. We’ve put together information on 10 areas that offer great opportunities for both novice and experienced hikers.

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Emerald Necklace

The Emerald Necklace, a series of interconnected parks comprising over 1,000 acres, stretches 7 miles from Back Bay to Dorchester and offers an array of activities close to home. It was designed over a century ago by landscape architect and urban planner Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park, among many other sites. Each Emerald Necklace park is a unique experience. Below are six areas of the Emerald Necklace with good hiking opportunities.

Fens of the back bay has several interesting features: the formal Kelleher Rose Garden, Fenway Victory Gardens, originally planted in 1941 to aid the war effort, WWII, Korean War and Vietnam Memorial, and the Shattuck Visitor Center, which houses the Emerald Necklace Conservatory. It also has a 17th-century Japanese temple bell, plenty of trails for walking and running, ball courts, basketball courts, and a running track for sports enthusiasts.

Between Boston and Brookline, the Riverway features 34 acres of hiking and biking trails that meander along recently restored sections of the Muddy River. With over 100,000 plantings, the park also has many scenic stone bridges.

If you prefer ponds and meadows, Olmsted Park has both: there are hiking, biking, and walking trails and three separate ponds, as well as a wildflower meadow.

Jamaica Pond, with a 2.5-mile trail for jogging and hiking, is the city’s largest stretch of permanent freshwater. The Glacial Kettle Pond also has facilities for sailing, kayaking and rowing, and those with a license can fish in the pond. Pinebank Promontory, adjacent to the pond, is the site of summer Sundays in the park’s outdoor concerts and movies and is a prime spot for picnics.

Do more of a walking tour than a hike in Harvard’s 281 acres Arnold Arboretum, one of the finest botanical collections in the world, with approximately 4,000 shrubs, trees and vines, or more than 15,000 plants in all. There are self-guided tours with themes such as “Centenarians”, trees over a hundred years old, and guided tours animated by docents. At the Hunnewell Visitor Center, visitors can ask questions, view historical archives in the Arboretum Library, view seasonal art exhibits, and find information on activities for all ages. Picnics are prohibited, but the visitor center can provide park visitors with maps of local restaurants. Find an interactive map here showing current plant highlights along the park’s trails so you can plan a self-guided tour.

To finish, Franklin Park, named after Benjamin Franklin, is the largest park in the Emerald Necklace, at 527 acres, and has 6 miles of roads and 15 miles of walking and bridle paths, offering some of Boston’s best hiking trails. It houses the famous Franklin Park Zooas well as sports fields, an 18-hole golf course, Schoolmaster Hill, with its spectacular view of the Blue Hills (see below), and the Wilderness, a popular and historic hiking area.

Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, part of the Emerald Necklace system of parks created by Frederick Law Olmsted, has 110 hectares and more than 4,000 species of trees, shrubs and vines. Photo by Plant Picture Library/Flickr

A free series Parks as a platform the events are accessible to the public from April to October 2022. The series involves the Emerald Park Conservancy working with all six areas of Emerald Park for programming and additional support, such as obtaining permits, coordinating volunteers, and providing equipment such as signage and portable toilets. The objective is to increase access to the park and to welcome a wider public.

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

A short ferry ride from town, Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park offers seasonal camping sites on four of the islands (Bumpkin, Grape, Lovells, and Peddocks).

If sleeping in a tent isn’t your style, the islands still offer plenty of ways to enjoy nature without having to venture out of town. Visitors can search for wildlife, relax on the beach, and learn about the history of the park’s 34 unique islands and peninsulas, 7 of which are accessible by ferry. Little Brewster Islandthe home of Boston Light, is the oldest continuously used light station in the country (it dates from 1716).

There are George Islandwith historic Fort Warren and stunning views of the other islands from its towers. The show islandjust 30 minutes by ferry from Long Wharf North, has beaches and the islands highest hill, while Peddocks Island has historic structures, cabins that still house residents, and hiking trails. Lovells Island has six small campsites that can accommodate up to 6 people each and two group campsites that can accommodate up to 50 people. You can go swimming and hiking along the rocky coast of the island and explore the remains of Fort Standish. To complete the islands are grape islandknown for its wildlife and woodland trails, and ideal for hiking, kayaking and picnicking; Bumpkin Island, which, with flower-lined paths and slate beaches, is home to several campsites and the remains of a children’s hospital; and Thompson Islandwhich has salt marshes, beaches and a conference center and hosts many summer programs for young people.

If you’re hungry, make sure you fill up at Georges or Spectacle before heading to the others, as those are the only two with cereal bar. The ferries are filled with snacks and drinks.

Neponset River Greenway

This paved cycle and pedestrian path stretches approximately five miles from Dorchester to Mattapan and Milton, and is ideal for cycling, walking and running. The trail is easily accessible by MBTA. Recent extensions to the Neponset River Greenway have been added, including a one-mile stretch from Pope John Paul II Park to Mattapan Square, with a canopy walk that meanders above the Mattapan High Speed ​​Tramway and the River Harvest Bridge linking the Milton and Mattapan banks of the Neponset River. Plans to extend the greenway to 10 miles, eventually connecting it to the Blue Hills Preserve, are underway.

Blue Hills Reservation

The largest park within 35 miles of Boston, the Blue Hills Preserve has over 7,000 acres of green space and 125 miles of trails spread over 22 hills from Quincy to Dedham and Milton to Randolph. The trails pass through upland and lowland woods, the edges of marshes, swamps and ponds, and even an Atlantic white cedar bog. From the top of Great Blue Hill’s 635-foot summit, hikers can see Boston and, on a clear day, even spot New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock, nearly 70 miles away. The Blue Hills Weather Observatory, a National Historic Landmark, is well worth a trip to the top.

Hikers can take short jaunts of a mile or less or more strenuous hikes of three hours. You can purchase trail maps at Reservation Headquarters, 695 Hillside St., or at the Trailside Museum, 1904 Canton Ave. Of particular note is the Skyline Loop Blue Blazes, a three-mile hike to Great Blue Hill. Download a trail map and guide here. Find hiking suggestions here.

Each of the above sites is accessible by public transport. Find the route to the Blue Hills Preserve hereand directions to Arnold’s Arboretum and other Emerald Necklace Parks here. Directions to Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park are available hereand fee information can be found here. Directions for the Neponset River Greenway can be found here.

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