Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wilson Mountain Hike, Dedham

photo of stream near Wilson Mountain, Dedham, MAThere aren't too many "mountains" in the Boston area, so having the word attached to a recreation area, even if it's not accurate, is rather intriguing. And after finally hiking through the Wilson Mountain Reservation in Dedham last weekend, I can say that no, Wilson Mountain is not really a mountain, but it is a peaceful, scenic spot with deep woods, bubbling brooks (see photo), and a surprisingly steep hill with decent views at the top.

photo of trail along Wilson Mountain, Dedham, MAWe started our hike from the small parking lot (room for 10 cars or so) along Route 135 just east of Route 128. The green dot trail started out as what looked like a logging road, but it quickly became narrower and steeper once the red dot loop veered off to the right. As we skirted the top of the hill, some limited views of the Blue Hills could be seen to the east, but then we quickly lost the views as we descended into a deeply woooded are with many streams. A little more than halfway through the green loop, we took a side trail up to the red dot trail, where we took a right and were soon dropping steeply from the hill, on the part of the trail where the red and green dot were one and the same. Then the red dot trail left the green dot and passed through a beautiful pine forest (see photo) before starting a rather treacherous scamper up toward the summit of Wilson Mountain.

Once we reached the summit, we took a breather, enjoying the fine views of the Boston skyline and the unusual rock formations at the top (see photo). Then we went back along the side trail down to the green dot trail where we continued on from where we had left off earlier. This part of the green dot was mostly flat and eventually went parallel to Route 135, but it was still quite nice, with several streams and some wetlands along the way. The trail took us back to the parking lot, but we continued on to another trail that skirted the eastern boundary of the reservation and led to a large meadow. From there, we turned around and headed back to the lot.

You can do about 4 miles or so in the Wilson Mountain Reservation if you hit all of the trails within the area. Figure on about 2 hours for the hike, plus any breaks you might take.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Winter Hike at Pond Meadow, Braintree

About 25 of us went on a winter hike through Pond Meadow in Braintree over the weekend. Conditions were pretty good (the snow was packed down and not very slippery), and because Pond Meadow is not a hilly area, it was a perfect spot for a Sunday morning hike.

photo of Pond Meadow, Braintree, MAPond Meadow is a smallish park mostly in Braintree, though some of it is located in Weymouth. It abuts Route 3, so parts of the area are tarnished by traffic noise, but much of the area is quiet. There is a main walkway that is paved loops around the pond, with some dirt paths veering off the loop. We hiked on both the paved walkway and most of the dirt paths (except for the yellow trail), walking about 4 miles total, much of which was along or within site of the pond. Perhaps the most scenic trail was the part of the red trail that meanders along the north edge of the pond. It was quiet, scenic, and afforded near-constant views of the water. But the trails away from the pond were also scenic, including part of the blue trail that crossed bucolic streams (see photo) and wandered through rolling terrain.

Pond Meadow is generally a place to go for a short walk; indeed, distance hikers probably won't like it because of its relatively small size. But it is a nice oasis in the middle of an area that is otherwise residential, and its easy access from Route 3 makes it a great option for a quick trip.