Blue Hills Reservation
The Blue Hills reservation is another large preserve that is part of the Massachusetts department of conservation and recreation network. The Blue Hills is located in Milton, Mass. just off of RT 93 exit 3 for Houghton’s Pond, another great hike which I will review another day. There is a bountiful amount of trails to hike as well as plenty of other outdoor activities in the area such as: fishing, mountain biking, non-motorized boating, camping, horseback riding, and more. The trails range from easy strolls through well packed paths, to moderate-hard climbs that involve an assortment of ascents and descents. We choose, this particular time, to take the southern part of the Skyline Trail.
The Skyline Trail is split into two sections, north and south, which meet on Hillside Road and the entire trail is about 9 miles long. If you want to do the whole thing you need to devote about 5.5-7 hours of time given the difficulty of the ascents. We choose to do the southern part of the trail which is only 2.6 miles and can easily be done in under 2 hours, including stoping to eat lunch for a few minutes. The best place to park is on Hillside road across from the state police barracks. From here you head towards the preserve facilities building and start your ascent onto the Blue trail from behind this series of buildings.
The initial ascent up to the “Skyline” is a pretty steep and you have to be careful if the rocks are wet because there isn’t much dirt. Your basically climbing up large boulders to the top of the hills. Once you get to the top there is a great southern view of the Milton/Randolph/Braintree valley – a perfect place to snap off a few shots or even a cool panoramic. As you continue along the trail it weaves through the trees and every few hundred yards or so gives you a great view in one direction of the surrounding valley area.
The rest of the trail is an array of ups and downs that offer a moderate challange for most types of hikers, but a my be a bit hard for someone not accustomed to rigorous exersize. People use the trail for all sorts of activities from hiking to running to frisbee golf. The latter was particularly interesting seeing how steep some of the ledges are.
At the top of the next hill is where Elliot Tower is and where you have an amazing veiw of Boston. This is a great place to stop and eat lunch and relax in the sun (weather permitting). The inside of the tower is filled with an array of interesting grafitti that can provide a bit of amusement or a sense of nostalgia (if you name is there). A short hike from Elliot Tower is the weather observatory facing south. This also provides a great chance for a landscape panoramic.
The second half of the trail is a bit harder, at first, then the first half, but as long as you use caution when descending down the moss covered rocks you will be ok. The trail dumps you out back onto Hillside Road, and your car is just a 1/4 mile up the road. If you’ve completed this and are still feeling ambitious, then you can continue on the skyline trail north. The entrance is directly infront of where you parked your car.
For more pictures of the Skyline Trail’s southern part, you can check out my Flickr photostream.
You can also grab my GPS tract.