Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lincoln Conservation Land: Pine Hill and DeCordova Area

Lincoln, along with neighboring Weston, is a mostly rural town northwest of Boston that is crisscrossed with trails. Indeed, the trail network is such that you can hike for miles without seeing the same area twice. And while the areas near Walden Pond, Minuteman National Historic Park, and Mount Misery seem to be the most popular spots for hikers, the lands just north and west of Lincoln Center are well worth checking out.

photo from Pine Hill, Lincoln, MAWe did such a trip recently, starting at the Lincoln Public Schools just off Lincoln Road near the center of town. From the parking lot near the tennis courts (hikers are allowed to park here), we walked north past the school fields and into a beautiful meadow area, eventually reaching a wooded trail that kept close to Sandy (Flint's) Pond. After awhile, we turned left, crossing Sandy Pond Road and working our way up to the top of Pine Hill, where we were awarded with limited, though pleasant views to the west (see photo).

photo from near DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA From Pine Hill, we wound our way down to the bottom near Walden Pond, then walked around the hill and back over to Sandy Pond. We walked around most of the rest of the pond, stopping for lunch at a scenic overlook above the pond and just below the DeCordova Museum. After our break, we continued up the fairly steep trail, skirting the museum, and heading east a few hundred yards, where we were treated to a remarkable view of fields, meadows, and rolling hills that felt more like Vermont than the Greater Boston area (see photo). From here, we headed south down a trail that was steep in a couple of spots, ending up back at the meadow just north of the school. From here, it was a short walk back to the parking lot.

This part of Lincoln isn't all that popular with hikers, but it is certainly worth going to, as it is mostly remote and quiet (except for the parts near Route 2), and the views of the pond and open areas are particularly nice.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wright's Pond, Medford

photo of Wright's Pond, Medford, MAThe Middlesex Fells Reservation is a popular hiking area north of Boston. Its deep woods, moving streams, and views from open hilltops make the Fells a favorite destination for walkers, whether they go to the Winchester, Medford, Malden, Stoneham, or Melrose section (or all of the above). Some parts are better known than others, however, and one of the least known parts of the Fells just happens to be one of the most popular recreation areas in Medford. Confused? Read on to find out more....

photo of Wright's Pond, Medford, MAWright's Pond is located in the eastern part of the Middlesex Fells, wedged between Route 93 and Route 28, Elm Street, and Woodland Road. And while the beach area of Wright's Pond gets very crowded during the summer, much of the rest of the pond (which is actually manmade) is quite pristine. And since it is not really on any through trails in the Fells, it is often overlooked by hikers. One way to get to Wright's Pond is by parking in the Flynn Rink parking lot on Woodland Road, then walking along the Cross Fells Trail past Quarter Mile pond and up and down some low hills. At a rock outcropping perhaps 10 minutes from the parking lot, take a left down into the woods. From here, it gets a little confusing since the trails are mostly unmarked, but once you see the northern edge of the pond through the woods, try to stay on the trail that heads to the left shore. Once you get to the pond, you will soon find a rocky ledge above it that has outstanding views (see photo). This is a popular lunch spot among hikers.

photo of Wright's Pond, Medford, MAFrom the ledge, continue along the trail that goes alongside the pond, and keep bearing to the right whenever you can. Soon you will reach the beach at Wright's Pond (see photo). If you go during the summer, it will most likely be crowded, but most of the rest of the year it is quiet. From the beach, continue along the pond, heading clockwise around it until you come nearly to the trail that you first saw the pond. From here, continue on until you reach the Cross Fells Trail and head back to the parking lot, or if you want a longer hike, take a left on the Cross Fells Trail into the western part of the reservation or go straight which will take you to Spot Pond.

Again, many of the trails are not marked well in the Wright's Pond area, so it best to get a map of the Middlesex Fells and use a GPS if possible. You can't really get lost because the area is bordered by roads, but it can be a confusing area in spots.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Buck Hill (Blue Hills Reservation)

photo of  Boston skyline from Buck Hill (Blue Hills Reservation)At just under 500 feet above sea level, Buck Hill isn't the highest point in the Boston area, but it certainly has some of the best views. A favorite of hikers in the Blue Hills reservation, Buck Hill is one of the most rugged spots in this hilly, wooded area south of Boston. The summit of this broad, round hill is mostly treeless, allowing for nearly 360-degree views including the the Boston skyline and the ocean.

There are several ways to get to Buck Hill, including particularly scenic approaches from the Skyline Trail. For hikers who don't have much time, it is best to park on Route 28 near the Milton/Quincy border and take the Skyline west for a short but very steep climb to the summit. For a more leisurely hike (allow 45 minutes to an hour each way), the Skyline Trail can be taken from the park headquarters (just east of the Houghton Pond parking lot) climbing mostly east over Tucker Hill and Boyce Hill before reaching the summit.