Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Quick Hike in Blue Hills Reservation

The weekend before last, I headed south of the city to do a short hike up Great Blue Hill in Blue Hills Reservation in Canton, MA with my friends Kara and Steph.

Blue Hills Reservation from Boston

Blue Hills Reservation is a state park that's popular with Boston hikers and nature lovers because of its close proximity to the city. I'd never been there before, but it's quite close to Steph's condo, so it's definitely been on my list of things to do with her sooner than later.

The three of us made our way from Steph's home to the Great Blue Hill trailhead at the Trailside Museum, which is located at the far end of a parking lot for the Blue Hills Ski Area. From there we began ascending a stone staircase that led us up into the woods, following a red-dotted trail. The trail soon turned rocky, rooty, and increasingly icy.

Trail to Great Blue Hill
Icy rocks on trail to Great Blue Hill in Blue Hills Reservation
At times, the ground underfoot would switch from forest floor to large granite boulders. On these stretches, the icy granite was too slippery for our boots, so we had to shift off to the side and follow a makeshift trail that had formed on less slippery ground. No biggie.

Soon our trail crossed over a summit road (the chump's way up to the top of the hill!) before continuing back into the woods on the red-dotted path. Eventually we came to the summit of the 640-foot hill, where there sits an attractive stone building called Eliot Tower. This cool, lodge-like building features a large fireplace where - a sign warns - you are not to make any fires, under any circumstances. Passing the fireplace-that-couldn't, we climbed a set of stairs to the observation deck on the top floor of the tower.

Great Blue Hill is the largest hill for miles and miles, so the view from Eliot Tower features a pretty sweet view of Boston, even on a cloudy day:

View of downtown Boston from Great Blue HIll

View of downtown Boston from Great Blue HIll
In addition to Boston, you can also see Canton, Milton, Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree, Dorchester and the ocean.

A short walk from Eliot Tower is the renowned Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, which is one of the oldest weather observatories in the country. We warmed up in their "gift shop" briefly before beginning our descent back down the hill.

View of downtown Boston from Great Blue HIll
This hike was icy and steep-ish at times, but completely manageable. On a summer day, it might even be sort of fun to jog up it... though I'm told the trail gets much busier in the warmer months.

Brief though this was, it was still a nice way to get back into hiking. I feel like it's been forever! There are a ton of amazing places to hike and snowshoe in the winter around New England, so I've been plotting out some trips with different people to get me into some real mountains again.

Have you been out hiking in your hood lately?
Any hiking, snowshoeing or other outdoor winter sporting in your near future?


  1. That looks like a gorgeous place to hike, every season! I'm so glad you've got a spot o' nature to tumble around in, right outside the city. And I'm doubly glad the ice didn't cause damage (slipping + existing injury = baaaaaaad)

    1. Not quite as much "nature" readily available as I had in Vancouver, but I will do what I can :) Luckily (?) I hurt my knee *after* this hike!


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