Clean Getaways

by Sarah Tuff

HIKING THE BLUE HILLS

Leave from: Boston

The jaunt: Bagging New England's taller mountains like Washington, Mansfield, or Katahdin might impress your polar-fleece-clad pals—but those peaks share a pesky habit of being located out in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, you can hike the Blue Hills Reservation by barely leaving the Boston metro area. Just minutes from Beantown, in Milton, Massachusetts, the 8,500-acre park has 125 miles of trails, including the blue-blazed, nine-mile Skyline Trail that traces the softly rolling ridgeline. The highest point is the top of Great Blue Hill—just 635 feet (don't worry about bringing oxygen). The peak is home to the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center, where meteorologists have been recording the climate since 1885. There are scads of other lookouts throughout the park where—on a clear day—you can drink in 360-degree views of the 'burbs and spot the buildings of both Boston and Providence. Thankfully, the reservation's creeks, hardwood forests, and pine trees create just enough distance from civilization for you to channel your inner Thoreau. The Houghton Pond beach is also the perfect spot for an après-hike splash.

Your chariots: The MBTA—which drops you in Milton after a 15-minute ride from South Station—and a pair of hiking boots

Check into: Reserve one of 20 rustic cabins at Ponkapoag Camp, a pondside retreat run by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Appalachian Mountain Club
Tel: 781 961 7007
Weekend cabin rentals from $30

Blue Hills Reservation
Tel: 617 698 1802

Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center
Tel: 617 696 0389

NEXT: Horse around >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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