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Appalachian Mountain Club Boston Chapter Local Walks/Hikes Committee

Hiking Areas

The following is a compilation of some of the larger areas for day hikes out of Boston plus information on obtaining trail maps. Most areas are large enough for all-day hikes, roughly 8 miles or more - depending on the terrain and the number of points of interest. A few are only large enough for half-day hikes, but could be combined with adjacent or nearby areas. Some would require many days to explore. All are scenic, some exquisitely so. All of them, plus many others, have been the sites of AMC Local Walks.

Areas Close to Boston

Information on hiking areas accessible by public transportation (generally inside of Rte. 128), including descriptions, directions, and T schedules, was previously available at the Boston Hiking Guide web site (http://geocities.com/hikeinfo) assembled by AMC Local Walks hike leader Mike Stadelmaier, but this is no longer available. We're working on reconstruction that information here. The areas described on that site included:

  • Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain
  • Blue Hills, Milton/Canton/Quincy
  • Breakheart Reservation, Saugus
  • Charles River (linear park), Boston
  • Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Brighton
  • Emerald Necklace, Boston
  • Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plain
  • Franklin Park, Roxbury
  • Fresh Pond, Cambridge
  • Hammond Pond Park, Newton
  • Hemlock Gorge, Newton
  • Horn Pond, Woburn
  • Larz Anderson Park, Brookline
  • Lincoln Conservation Land, Lincoln
  • Lynn Woods, Lynn
  • Middlesex Fells, Stoneham/Medford/Melrose
  • Millennium Park, West Roxbury
  • Moose Hill Sanctuary, Sharon
  • Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge
  • Pine Banks Park, Malden/Melrose
  • Prospect Hill, Waltham
  • Stony Brook Reservation, W. Roxbury
  • Walden Pond, Concord
  • Weymouth Great Esker, Weymouth
  • Wompatuck State Park, Hingham
  • World's End, Hingham

Massachusetts State Parks, Forests, and Reservations

Operated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management (DEM), www.massparks.org, www.state.ma.us/dem/dem.htm. Trail maps are available at the park headquarters building or at the park visitor center, if there is one. They can also be obtained by mail (free) from the regional offices of the DEM. They are also available online at www.massparks.org, then click on Trail Maps.

Note that many state parks and forests allow hunting in season. There is no hunting in Massachusetts on Sundays. During the grouse and deer seasons, roughly mid-October to the end of December except Sundays, avoid the areas which allow hunting or wear hunter orange. See the Hunting Seasons page. The annual schedule of hunting seasons is available for free from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 978-263-4347, and online at www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dfw/dfwrec.htm.

State parks and forests within 50 miles of Boston that have significant hiking trails include:

Massachusetts Wildlife Management Areas

Operated by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW), www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dfw/dfw_toc.htm. Trail maps are available (free) by sending SASE to: Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Field Headquarters, Westborough, MA 01581. Hunting allowed in season, except Sundays. See the state parks section above for precautions. Wildlife Management Areas within 50 miles of Boston having significant hiking trails include:

New Hampshire State Parks

Operated by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, (603)271-3254, www.nhparks.state.nh.us. Those near Boston include:

National Parks and Wildlife Refuges

The national parks and seashores are operated by the National Park Service, www.nps.gov. The federal wildlife management areas are operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (978) 443-4661, www.fws.gov.

US Army Corps of Engineers

Metropolitan District Commission Reservations

Operated by the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), 617-727-5215, www.state.ma.us/mdc/reserv.htm. Maps (not detailed) available online at www.state.ma.us/mdc/reserv.htm. Trail maps available for certain reservations - see below.

Town Parks and Conservation Lands

Operated by town conservation commissions. Trail maps are generally available at the town halls.

Trustees of Reservations Properties

Operated by The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), Long Hill, 572 Essex St., Beverly, MA, 01915, 978-921-1944, www.thetrustees.org, email: longhill@ttor.org. Trail maps for most properties can be ordered by mail ($2 post-paid) from the above address. See www.thetrustees.org for availability. Some of their larger properties in eastern Massachusetts are:

Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries

Operated by the Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS), 208 South Great Rd., Lincoln, MA 01773, 1-800-AUDUBON, 781-259-9500, www.massaudubon.org. Trail maps and driving maps online at www.massaudubon.org and trail maps available at the entrances. Sanctuaries are closed on Mondays. $4 entrance fee for nonmembers of the Audubon Society.

Other Private Reservations

These are privately owned reservations that are open to the public for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Trail maps are available at the entrance.

Long-Distance Linear Trails

Middlesex Canal

The 27-mile Middlesex Canal carried cargo and passengers in horse- and oxen-drawn barges between Charlestown and Lowell from 1803 to 1853. There are walkable remnants of the canal in Woburn, Wilmington, Billerica and Chelmsford. The Middlesex Canal Association, www.middlesexcanal.org, operates the Middlesex Canal Museum and Visitors Center in the Faulkner Mills, 71 Faulkner St., N. Billerica, MA, 978-670-2740, open Sat. and Sun. 12-4 PM, April through September. Their "Middlesex Canal Guide and Maps" by Burt VerPlanck ($17) is available at the museum and at their walks and contains detailed maps and driving directions for the entire canal route.

Hiking Guides

Topographic Maps

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5 by 15 minute quadrangle folded topographic maps show only a few of the hiking trails, but they are excellent for general orientation and topography. They cover an area of about 9 by 13 miles at a scale of 1 inch = 2083 ft. and are available at the stores listed below (about $6 each). They are also available on CD-ROM and online - see www.mapping.usgs.gov and www.state.ma.us/mgis.

Stores Carrying Maps and Hiking Guides

T-Accessible Hiking Areas (added June 13, 2014 - more submissions welcome)

Blue Hills

The Blue Hills got their name from the English explorers who noticed a bluish hue coming from the landscape when viewing from a distance.

Depending on where you would like to go on the reservation, you can take a variety of routes.

West Area (Trailside Museum, Blue Hills Ski Area & Houghton’s Pond): Take the Red Line to Ashmont Station and connect with the Mattapan High Speed Center bus route No. 716. If traveling to Houghton’s Pond, stay on the bus past the Trailside Museum. Exit bus at Blue Hill River Road in front of Dunkin Donuts. Cross at the light and walk 1 mile to the left on Blue Hill River Road to Houghton’s Pond.

Central Area (Chickatawbut Overlook): Take the Red Line to Ashmont Station. Take the No. 240 bus to the Randolph Avenue and Chickatawbut Road intersection.

East Area (St. Moritz Pond & Shea Rink - best T-accessible starting location): Take the Red Line towards Braintree to Quincy Center. Then take the No. 238 bus to West Street and Willard Street intersection.

Arnold Arboretum

Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum is the oldest in North America, and one of the world’s leading centers for plant biodiversity study. It is also a National Historic Landmark, designed by infamous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. If you get thirsty on the trails, pop into the nearby Sam Adams brewery.

Take the Orange Line towards Forest Hills to the end of the line. The Arboretum is immediately north of the T stop.

Prospect Hill

Prospect Hill has hiking trails ranging from difficult to easy-moderate. While you're out there, take a break and enjoy the stunning views.

Take the Red Line to Central Square, Cambridge, walk to the 70A Bus towards North Waltham, Take the 70A Bus to Lexington Street opposite Lincoln Street and walk about 15 minutes to the park (several routes possible - see map).

Boston Harbor Islands

The Boston Harbor Islands have it all, from beaches to boats to biking. Travel to Bumpkin or Grape Island for a glimpse of nature on the best hiking trails.

Take the Blue Line to the Aquarium. Walk to Long Wharf-North and take the ferry to the islands. Take a connecting ferry from Georges to get to Bumpkin and Grape Island.

Middlesex Fells Reservation

Just five miles north of the city, Middlesex Fells Reservation offers city-dwellers the chance to go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. In other words, you won't be bored!

Option 1: Take the Orange Line to Sullivan Sq. Station, and then take the 95 Bus to intersection of Playstead Rd @Winthrop St (end of the line). This is the southwesternmost entry to the Western Middlesex Fells.

Option 2: Take the Orange Line to Wellington Station, and then take the 100 Bus to circle over I-93 where Fellsway West meets S. Border Rd. (Medford). Short walk along S. Border Rd. to Bellevue Pond and trails to Wright's Tower and Western Fells. on Woodland Rd. near circle @Elm Street in Medford.

Option 3: Take the Orange Line to Wellington Station, and then take the 99 Bus to Flynn Rink on Woodland Rd. near circle @Elm Street in Medford. Excellent trails in Eastern Fells accessible from both west and east sides of Woodland Rd. from Flynn Rink parking area.

Option 4: Take the Orange Line to Oak Grove Station, from W side of station walk N along Washington St. two blocks to L on Glenrock Ave. to R on Brazil St. Enter Fells via trail on left (west) side of Brazil St. This is the easternmost entry to the Middlesex Fells and the best T-accessible starting location.

Option 5: Take the Orange Line to Oak Grove Station, transfer to 132 Bus along Washington St. and W. Wyoming Ave. to end of line at Fellsway East/Pond St. Enter trails on W side of Fellsway East to northernmost section of Eastern Fells.

Stony Brook Reservation

Take Orange Line to Forest Hills Station (and of the line), transfer to 34E Bus along Washington St. to stop at Lagrange St., short walk S to Stony Brook Reservation and trails.