Middlesex Fells Reservation
Location: Medford, MA (15 miles north of Boston)
Difficulty: trails range from easy walking trails to moderate/hard hiking.
Pets: Yes, most people had dogs
Middlesex Fells Reservation is located right off of Interstate 93, exit 33, just a stones throw from Boston. The main entrance is the best to use as it has the most parking and a trail map with other useful information about particular plant and insect life in the reservation. There are plenty of trails to make this more a great spot for frequent visits as well as several bike paths that include a wide array of biking abilities.
When we started out, we chose to go on the Reserve Trail (Orange), but shortly decided that we were looking for something a little harder and shortly switched to the Skyline Trail. One thing to note is that the Reserve Trail is about 5.5 miles around all three lakes, but the Skyline Trail, if you follow the entire thing, is about 7 miles and takes a detour, after going around the lakes, to the far southeast corner of the reservation that has a great look out over Boston (perfect for sunsets).
When we first pulled up we noticed that is was very busy and parking can be a bit dodgy, but it seemed ok to just pull up on the middle barrier if there wasn’t any spots. We also noticed that a lot of people had dogs, so this would be a great place for a little dog-meet-up with other owners.
The Skyline trail starts with a quick ascent up about a 500 ft bit of rock to get the the “skyline” part of the trail. As you follow the trail it winds up and down the hills of the reservation with the occasional break in the trees providing spectacular views of the whole park. eventually after about 2 miles you reach a spot where you can go sit on one of the lakes that is part of the town water supply. It’s really peaceful place to sit as very few people take the skyline trail. Great for a small snack or just a quick rest to enjoy the weather.
As the trail winds around the back side of the reservation it crosses the bike path several times, so be sure to watch out for speeding mountain bikers. You’ll find that the trail seems to go up and down over the hills and on each down it crosses the Reserve Trail sever times, so its easy to switch to an easier path if you over estimated your fitness, or just are tired of climbing rocks. One thing to note is that, as with most trails in the northeast, there are lots of snakes, especially this time of year, but they are just regular garter snakes so there is no need to worry (my girlfriend freaked out when the first one crossed our path).
When you get to the point in the picture to the right, it is important to note that this is the best(and last) place to switch to the Reserve Trail before you head up the moderate-hard hike to the southeast cliff that overlooks Boston. There are beautiful view of Boston if you are up for the additional 2+ miles, but if you are running out of time, or just tired, it’s the best place to head back to the car (which will still be about half a mile away).
If your up for the addtional 2 miles of the hardest part of the trail, then your up for some oustanding views of boston, as well as a great spot to have lunch, sit and relax, or even take a nap. The top has a very old lookout tower that is closed to the public, but it adds a bit a scenic beauty to the whole skyline.
Finally that last part of the trail is the final descent back to the parking lot. This part is a series of ups and downs and each time you feel your making the final descent, it goes right back up. Its about 2 miles of this before you are dumped right back to the main entrance that you entered the reservation and the parking lot is just up the hill. If you make it this far, then congraduations you just made it about 7.5 miles of moderate-hard hiking and at about 370 calories/hour for about 3.5-4.5 hours i’d say its time for a nice hearty dinner!