Although many years have passed since Henry David Thoreau wrote about the “subtle magnetism in Nature,” those of us who are lucky enough to live in the area he called home are still drawn to the parks and reservations here. It’s easy to see why the scenery in this part of Massachusetts has been bewitching residents for centuries. The next time you need to relax, try an escape into nature. These 9 green spaces in and around Boston are a good place to start!
1. Middlesex Fells Reservation
Get away from it all at this 2,575-acre reservation, a serene spot that is suitable for hikers of all experience levels. Beginners can take the Long Pond Nature Trail, which is just under a mile in length. The 5.2-mile long Reservoir Trail loops around this body of water, affording soothing views - although not water access. For sweeping vistas of Boston’s architecture, challenge yourself with the 6.9-mile long Skyline Trail.
2. Charles River Reservation
Given that this reservation stretches for 20 miles along the Charles River, there’s a good chance you haven’t explored its entire length. Although certain sections tend to get crowded, there are still peaceful areas to be found along the greenway. Check out the woodsy section around Waltham, which has raised boardwalks and tranquil river views.
3. Spectacle Island
For easy trails that offer a panoramic perspective on the Boston skyline, take the ferry over to Spectacle Island. Here, you’ll find 5 miles of walking paths that are simple to combine into a loop or figure eight walk. Families and casual hikers will love the endless water views.
4. The Arnold Arboretum
This arboretum is part of the Emerald Necklace and its 281 acres of grounds are simply lovely. Wandering beneath the trees here is a beautiful experience, especially in spring when the cherry blossoms provide pastel pops of color, as well as when in fall, when the leaves are changing.
5. Blue Hills Reservation
Although only a short jaunt from Boston, these woods are hiding 125-miles of trails! It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a quick hike or a longer excursion, you’re sure to find an option that matches both your ability and timeframe. Try the 3.4-mile long Great Blue Hill Trail or the Ponkapoag Pond Trail (4.4 miles long).
6. Cutler Park Reservation
Estimates of the length of the Blue Heron Trail vary (it’s in the ballpark of 8.5 miles) but you don’t have to trek its full length to enjoy the marsh and woodland scenery. You’re unlikely to find many other people on this route, save for when the trail briefly veers into urban areas. (Muddy dog optional.)
7. Breakheart Reservation
Breakheart Reservation includes a pleasant variety of scenery, from rocky terrain, to forest, lakes, and the Saugus River. The Pearce Lake and Upper Pond Trail is a 4.9-mile loop that is moderately hard. It takes you by a beach, which makes it popular in summer. If you’re seeking solitude – or something close to it – try the Fox Run Trail.
8. The Harborwalk
You can hike all day and still be nowhere near the end of what will eventually become 47 miles of shoreline path linking East Boston to Dorchester. As the name indicates, you can expect water views, a chance to experience a range of neighborhoods, and 40 parks along the way!
9. Noanet Woodlands Reservation
A range of short hikes await you at Noanet Woodlands Reservation. The Larabee, Peabody, Caryl Loop, and Noanet Peak Trails range in length from 1.5 to 1.8 miles, making this an ideal spot for a quick wander into the woods. You can also combine them for a longer hike. Highlights include several ponds, wooded paths, distant city views, and the remains of an old mill (pictured).
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