Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Boston Harborwalk, South Boston to Charlestown

With the finishing of the Big Dig and the tearing down of the old elevated artery, Boston now has a lot of new open land, both along and near the waterfront. The land along the waterfront can now be enjoyed by taking a stroll on the Boston Harborwalk, with one stretch of the Harborwalk going from South Boston all the way to the tip of Charlestown, with few interruptions.

photo of the Harborwalk, Boston, MAStarting by the Gillette Plant in South Boston, the Harborwalk goes along the east side of the Fort Point Channel, going past South Station and the Boston Children's Museum. The stretch by the museum is particularly scenic, with striking views of the Boston skyline (see photo) as the walkway heads toward the end of the channel. From this point, the Harborwalk winds its way past the wealthy residences of Rowes Wharf and India Wharf. The next stop is the New England Aquarium and Long Wharf, both of which attract crowds of tourists.

photo of Lewis Wharf Garden, BostonAfter Long Wharf and Christopher Columbus Park, the Harborwalk meanders up and down various wharves in the North End. One of the most interesting of these is Lewis Wharf, where people can relax at a little-known garden (photo), complete with benches and narrow walkways. This is one of the most peaceful spots along the Harborwalk, and is a beautiful spot during the summer when plants are in full bloom.

photo of Paul Revere Park, Charlestown, MAFrom Lewis Wharf, the path continues to wind along a few more wharves in the North End, though many users of the Harborwalk cut through the North End neighborhoods to see some of the interesting restaurants, shops, churches, and other points of interest, eventually meeting up with the Harborwalk near the Charlestown Bridge. From this point, there are a couple of options, one of which is to take a walkway over the Charles River Dam. Some of this walkway includes movable sidewalks over the dam. Now in Charlestown, the walkway emerges from the dam at Paul Revere Park (photo), a small area of open space with memorable views of the Zakim Bridge and the Boston skyline.

photo of the Mystic Tobin Bridge from Building 114Continuing northeast along the water, the Harborwalk cuts past Tudor Wharf, then enters Boston National Historic Park and the Charlestown Naval Shipyard, where the U.S.S. Constitution is located. Going past Shipyard Park, the Harborwalk goes past a few more wharves and some quiet waterfront neighborhoods before coming to an end near Building 114 (photo) in the shadows of the Mystic Tobin Bridge. This vast building was once used for building boats for the navy, and now is a multi-use facility. It is open 24 hours a day, and has rest rooms, vending machines, and chairs and tables where people can relax before heading back along the Harborwalk.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union, CT

photo of Bigelow Pond in Bigelow State Park, ConnecticutConnecticut may seem like a bit of a drive from Boston for someone looking for an easy, relaxing day of hiking, but the town of Union (and Bigelow Hollow State Park, which is within its borders) is only about an hour from the city. And the park is beautiful in ways that closer spots such as the Blue Hills and Middlesex Fells are not, since Union itself is in an unspoiled, hilly part of Connecticut.

photo of Bigelow State Park, Union, ConnecticutBigelow Hollow State Park and the adjacent Nipmuck State Forest together form a huge wilderness area of more than 9,000 acres. The state park itself has a couple of scenic bodies of water. Bigelow Pond (top) is the first one you reach along the road through the state park, and Mashapaug Pond (above and below) is the second one, which is found at the end of the road. Hiking trails go around Bigelow Pond and brush up along the border of Mashapaug Pond, with many more trails winding through the deep woods that extend all the way up to the Massachusetts border.

photo of Mashapaug Pond in Bigelow State Park, ConnecticutThe trails in Bigelow Hollow State Park might not present much of a challenge to hikers, but if you like isolated ponds and scenic views of wooded hills and wetlands, Bigelow Hollow is definitely worth a trip.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cape Cod Rail Trail, Dennis to Wellfleet

photo of Long Pond, Harwich, from the Cape Cod Rail TrailThe Cape Cod Rail Trail is, as its name implies, a former railroad line that is now used mostly by bikers and rollerbladers. But this doesn't mean that this popular 22-mile trail that cuts through the center of the Cape is not used by anyone else. Indeed, walkers, joggers, and hikers can be seen on this path, enjoying the sights and sounds along the way, whether they are in Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, or Wellfleet.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is mostly a wooded path, but there are beautiful sections, such as the area around Long Pond in Harwich (see picture above) and the part of the path around Rock Harbor. Whether you bike, hike, walk, or run, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is worth checking out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Warning to Solo Hikers Going to Pond Meadow, 10/11/06

A woman was attacked a few days ago at Pond Meadow as she was taking a walk through the popular park in Braintree. They have not caught the person yet, so police are warning women to think twice before walking in Pond Meadow by themselves for the time being.

Yet another reason to avoid solo hiking if at all possible. Many of us who hike a lot will occasionally hike alone (myself included), but it's probably not the greatest of ideas, unfortunately...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wompatuck State Park Hike, Hingham, MA

Did an 8-mile hike with more than 30 people the other day at Wompatuck State Park. It was an unusually warm October day, with temperatures approaching 80 degrees. Wompatuck is a mostly flat, wooded area with several ponds and an extensive network of trails as well as paved roads, some of which are off limits to cars.

We went past some particularly scenic bodies of water, including Woodpecker Pond (above), which is near the visitor center, Boundary Pond (left), which is on the other side of the park near Norwell, and the remote, beautiful Heron Pond (bottom).

In addition to the scenic ponds in Wompatuck, there were also some interesting meadows and fields, as well as some particularly nice trails and roads, including one winding road that cuts through the center of the park (shown here), going past Wildcat Pond.

There really isn't much in the way of scenic overlooks or high hills (none of either, to be honest) at Wompatuck State Park, but it is a fairly rugged, surprisingly remote area that extends through four towns, and is definitely a good spot to do some long-distance hiking without driving too far from Boston.

Reservoir Trail, Western Middlesex Fells, Winchester and Medford

Went on a hike a couple of weeks ago along the Reservoir Trail in the Western Middlesex Fells in Winchester and Medford. It was a decent-sized group, with about 15 of us on the hike. Part of the hike included a quick lesson on geocaching, as there are a couple of spots along the Reservoir Trail where items have been left for those who participate in this.

The Reservoir Trail isn't as scenic as the Skyline Trail, which loops mostly parallel to the Reservoir Trail in the Fells. But it is an interesting trail, with frequent water views and hikes through scenic wooded terrain. All in all, a fairly easy, pleasant 6-mile hike.

Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain

Some photos from a recent trip to the Arnold Arboretum:

Beech Tree Along the Beech Trail

Rhododendron Path Near Lower Bussey Brook

Upper Bussey Brook Near Hemlock Hill


Hello! Welcome to this hiking blog. In this blog you will find descriptions and photos of hiking areas in and around Boston. We are just starting out, so bear with us; there will be more and more entries over the coming weeks!