Ready, set, hike: Southeastern Mass. offers plenty of trails
Looking to do some hiking in the area? Allow the Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation to steer you down the right path.
“There’s some wonderful hiking in this area,” said Paul Miller, the chapter’s communications chairman, “and other than Blue Hills, it’s not real rugged.”
Those who head for the hills will discover that Blue Hills Reservation has more than 125 miles of trails to offer with varied terrain and breathtaking views spread across more than 7,000 acres in six communities (Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Milton, Quincy and Randolph).
“Blue Hills has a whole number of trails — miles and miles and miles of trails at all levels,” said Miller. “For a dollar or two, you can pick up their hiking maps at either the Trailside Museum (on Route 138) or the MDC headquarters on Hillside Street (in Milton) and see all the elevations and recommended hikes. There are trails ranging from some easy family trails to more rugged hiking trails.”
Blue Hills’ Skyline Trail is its most challenging and, at the same time, the most rewarding, he said.
“The Skyline Trail is the most rugged, taking you over all the hills,” said Miller. “There are a lot of ups and downs. I highly recommend wearing heavy hiking boots because it’s easy to turn your ankle. But you get some wonderful views of Boston Harbor and, on a clear day, Mount Monadnock to the west.”
There are a number of other options in the area as well.
Located in the southern portions of Plymouth and Carver, Myles Standish State Forest has 13 miles of trails, which, the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation says, “take visitors deep into the forest.”
“There are some longer trails there,” said Miller.
Looking for a family affair? Located on the Easton-Sharon border, Borderland State Park presents an attractive alternative.
“Hiking alongside water makes an outing special, and Borderland State Park has no fewer than six ponds to explore,” according to Michael Tougias of Appalachian Club Books in the guidebook, “Nature Walks in Eastern Massachusetts.”
“Add to that the combination of flat hayfields or the option to test your legs on hilly, rocky terrain, and Borderland has something for everyone.”
“There’s some very nice family hiking, very gentle hills and a nice lake,” said Miller.
Not all that far away, the Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon offers some stunning views to hikers.
“The stunted cedar trees and the sheer rock walls give the illusion that this is a hilltop in Maine, New Hampshire or Vermont,” Tougias writes. “And for a view this good, the trail to the top is surprisingly gentle.”
With “more than a dozen trails traversing its nearly 2,000 acres of forest, grassland, swamp and bogs,” according to Tougias, Moose Hill also presents an option for the youth movement.
“There’s some good family hiking, but you can also put together a longer hike,” said Miller. “There are a lot of different habitats.”
Offering a far different habitat than the football stadium in town, F. Gilbert Hills State Forest in Foxboro (and Wrentham) covers 1,027 acres and is described by the Department of Conservation and Recreation as a “passive use” pine and oak forest which offers 23 miles of trails for various uses.
“There’s some wonderful hiking in the Foxboro state forest, nice fire roads which take you through the forest and are very pretty,” said Miller. “You always see people in there with their kids, walking their dogs.”
Billed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation as “just a 35-minute drive from downtown Boston,” Wompatuck State Park in Hingham offers trails capable of taking hikers miles away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.