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City Slicker Retreats: Boston

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:37pm

I admit it: I’m caught in a vicious cycle.
For 6 months out of the year I constantly complain about the cold New England weather infiltrating my Texas grown bones. Every spring, giddiness rises as I look forward to Boston thawing. I contemplate exploring all the glorious life New England has to offer: surfing on the Cape, mountain biking in New Hampshire, hiking in the Adirondacks. “What a kick-ass summer this will be!”, my adventurous voice sings. But what my adventurous voice knows is that it will soon be squashed by my distaste for traffic and long drives.
But this summer, I’ve broken the cycle. I found not one, but two activities within 30 minutes of Boston to help me live my dream summer: Frolicking in the forest by day with plenty of time to enjoy my beloved Boston restaurants by night.
North Bridge

North Bridge

Biking the Minute Man Trail
Just west of Boston, the Minute Man Bikeway lies on an inactive railroad path leading from Cambridge to Bedford where the American Revolution began in 1775. The beginning of the trail is accessible by public transportation at the Alewife T stop. Being City Slickers, my fiance and I drove to the Minute Man Visitor’s Center with our bikes in tow.

The peaceful, 5 mile Battle Road Trail led us by the historic homes of Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne. After a quick break and photo session at the North Bridge, we head back to Concord’s town center for a bite to eat at Helen’s Restaurant. Bellies happy, we kept on keepin’ on and made our way to Lexington. Our leisurely ride totaled 3 hours, including grub time and a bonus brush-up on our American history. Don’t have a bike? No problem, the trails are perfect for walkers, or you can take a bike tour which includes rental from $25-$55 from Concord Bike Tours.

Dog Tired

Dog Tired

Blue Hills Reservation
After hearing at least 10 of my friends and clients say that I have to go to the Blue Hills Reservation for a quick retreat from the city, I finally listened. Driving less than 25 minutes from Boston, I find myself turning off route I-93 at an exit I’ve passed by many, many times before. And wow, wouldn’t you know it, there is a range of large hills towering the land just off the highway.

Why haven’t I ever noticed?, I ask myself. Oh yeah, because this is the stretch of highway where I typically sing aloud in my car to tune out the surrounding traffic jam.

As it turns out, the Reservation is huge! The 7,000 acres of land was one of the first areas set aside by the Metropolitan Parks Commission for public recreation in 1893. The gorgeous 125 miles of trails can be enjoyed by all fitness levels. Walks around Houghton Pond are perfect for the casual walker and moderate trails to the top of the hills get you panting like a tired dog.

Starting at the Trailside Museum, my lab/hound dog leads the way up the Great Blue Hill trail. After a short 20 minutes, we reach the summit. I take pride in our quick ascent to the top. But pride quickly fades after I see a family with a 4 and 6 year old join us at the top shortly after we arrive. Guess I’m not as bad-ass as I thought. No matter. The beautiful views offered from the observatory atop Great Blue Hill paint a smile across my faces.

To plan your Blue Hill hike, download a trail map from the Department of Conservation’s website, or buy a map for $2 at the Reservation Headquarters or Trailside Museum.

Do you have a favorite retreat from your Boston city life? Let me know. Leave a comment.

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