With the Appalachian Trail just two hours’ drive from Downtown and thousands of acres of parkland and trails encircling the city, hikers will not have a lack of options in and around Boston.
Blue Hills Reservation. A 20-minute drive south of Boston, the Blue Hills Reservation encompasses 7,000 acres of woodland with about 125 miles of trails, some ideal for cross-country skiing in winter, some designated for mountain biking the rest of the year. Although only 635 feet high, Great Blue Hill, the tallest hill in the reservation, has a spectacular view of the entire Boston metro area. It's open daily, and maps are available for purchase at the reservation headquarters or the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. To get there, take Route 93 South to Exit 3, Houghton's Pond. 695 Hillside St., Milton, MA, 02186. 617/698–1802. www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-south/blue-hills-reservation.html.
Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area. Easily accessible from downtown Boston, the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area is seldom crowded. The park maintains walking trails through diverse terrain and ecosystems. MA. www.bostonharborislands.org.
Middlesex Fells Reservation. Just a few miles north of Boston, the 2,575-acre Middlesex Fells Reservation has well-maintained hiking trails that pass over rocky hills, across meadows, and through wetland areas. Trails range from the quarter-mile Bear Hill Trail to the 6.9-mile Skyline Trail. Mountain bikers can ride along the reservation's fire roads and on a designated loop trail. This sprawling reservation covers area in Malden, Medford, Stoneham, Melrose, and Winchester. To get to the western side of the reservation from Boston, take Route 93 North to Exit 33, and then take South Border Road off the rotary. MA. 617/727–5380. www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/fells.htm.
Stony Brook Reservation. Excellent hiking footpaths crisscross the 475-acre Stony Brook Reservation, which spans Hyde Park and West Roxbury. Turtle Pond Pkwy., Boston, MA, 02132. 617/333–7404. www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/stony.htm.
Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Blue Hills Trailside Museum organizes hikes and nature walks. Open Thursday through Sunday and Monday holidays from 10 to 5, the museum has natural-history exhibits and live animals. Admission is $3. The trails are open daily dawn to dusk and are free to explore. Take Route 93 South to Exit 2B and Route 138 North. 1904 Canton Ave., Milton, MA, 02186. 617/333–0690. www.massaudubon.org.
Boston Parks & Recreation Department. Rangers with the Boston Parks & Recreation Department lead walks through the Emerald Necklace parks. 1010 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA, 02118. 617/635–4505. www.cityofboston.gov/parks/parkrangers.