Both culturally and historically, Boston is one of the most intriguing cities in the entire U.S. Visitors will not only find themselves in a place that played a central in the founding of the country, but they'll also discovery that they are surrounded by great restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and a flourishing art scene.
But, should you find the hustle and bustle of the city to be a bit overwhelming, it is surprisingly easy to escape the urban sprawl for awhile. When you're ready to reconnect with nature and spend a little time on the trail, these are our favorite day hikes within easy distance of Bean Town.
Blue Hills Reservation
If you're looking for a wide variety of trails surrounded by great scenery, but you don't want to wander too far from Boston proper, take a trip to nearby Blue Hills Reservation. Stretching out across 7,000 acres, the park offers more than 125 miles of hiking routes to explore. Most fall into the easy to moderate range of difficulty, although don't let the setting fool you. There are plenty of routes that are downright difficult, so be sure to pick one that suits your physical capabilities and experience level.
Those looking for a casual stroll should stick to the 2.5-mile long Wolcott & Border Path, which wanders through pine and hemlock trees along mostly-flat terrain. If you're interested in something a bit more strenuous, give the Skyline Loop a try. Only three miles in length, the trail wanders up and down several large hills, including the 635-foot summit of the park's namesake geographical landmark—Great Blue Hill itself.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
With more than 2,575 acres to explore, Middlesex Fells Reservation has plenty to offer any hiker. But it's the epic Skyline Trail that will draw serious hikers looking for a true challenge. The route takes adventurous outdoor enthusiasts over seven miles of incredibly rough and rocky terrain, climbing up and down the local hills multiple times in the process. The route passes through thickly wooded forests and past several lakes along the way, making it a scenic walk for those who are up for it. Plan to dedicate about five hours to the trek, and be sure to climb up the observation tower to get the best views of the surrounding landscape. You'll be glad that you did.
While its name does sound rather ominous, hikers will find a lot to like at World's End. The idyllic nature preserve is located just 15 miles outside of the city, but at times it feels like an entirely different setting. The 251-acre park features rolling hills, scenic shorelines, and even beautiful views of the Boston skyline in the distance. More importantly, World's End offers 4.5 miles of walking trails and carriage paths to explore, giving visitors the sense that they have stepped back in time. Most of the routes range from easy to moderate hiking, making them accessible to nearly anyone. Day hikers can stroll through lush forests and wander past granite cliffs while numerous species of colorful birds zip from tree to tree overhead.
In addition to being a great hiking destination, World's End also offers visitors the opportunity to go kayaking, trail running, birding, and horseback riding throughout the spring, summer and fall. During the winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing take center stage, with an avid group of active outdoor athletes taking to the trails even in cold weather. .
If it's peace and solitude you're looking for, head to Breakheart Reservation for a little quiet time on a trail. The 700-acre park straddles the Saugus River and is covered in dense, hardwood forests, making it the perfect destination for a hike. This is especially true in autumn, when the colors of the leaves come alive in yellows, oranges, and scarlets.
The terrain found inside the preserve undulates nicely with rolling hills and rocky outcroppings that stretch 200 feet in height at times. A network of trails criss-cross the park, wandering past two concealed lakes, as well as along the banks of the river. The routes range from easy to challenging, with steady climbs taking visitors to the tops of the hills for scenic views of Boston.
Breakheart is a good location not only for hikers, but cyclists and equestrian riders too. The waters found within the reservation offer excellent fishing, and swimming is allowed in the lakes too.
Located just 20 miles out of Boston near the town of Lincoln, travelers will find a place called Mount Misery. Don't let the name fool you however, as it isn't nearly as daunting or scary as it would seem. The park covers about 227 acres, and its namesake "mountain" is just a 284-foot hill located at the center. A trek to the top may leave you a little out of breath, but isn't exactly "misery." At the top you'll find lovely views of both the Sudbury River and Fairhaven Bay as well, making it walk well worth the effort.
The entire preserve is teeming with wildlife, making it easy to spot deer, squirrels, chipmunks, and a variety of bird species while wandering along the well marked paths. Birders and photographers will especially enjoy the setting, although those out for a casual stroll will find it extremely charming too.
This isolated section of the woods was once a favorite of Henry David Thoreau, and is connected to nearby Walden. After spending a few hours on Mount Misery, many visitors cap off their adventure with a visit to that iconic destination too.