I would call this an amazing season full of weekly hikes. After deciding to go hiking every weekend, me and wifey covered almost 10+ destinations around Boston this summer. Some were one-day getaways and a few were overnight stays. It was not only a great refresher for the lungs, but also very effective way to spend one day every week with nature not thinking about the everyday business
So here is a snapshot of some places we have been to in the summer of 2017.
Blue Hills [Easy]:
A group of small hills near Quincy, around 40 min drive from Boston (south) provides a great place for a day outing. The reservation has lots of trails. The skyline ridge trail is the longest and cuts Blue Hills horizontally. This trail has some great views of downtown Boston. This trail is also the most elevated trail and all other trails reach and/or cross this trail at some point. Other trails vary in length and elevation and you can do any of these depending on how much time you want to spend in Blue hills.
Middlesex Fells [Easy]:
Middlesex Fells reservation is around the same distance from Boston as Blue Hills, but towards north. This is a relatively flat terrain. A good destination for a nature walk. We walked closed to 10 miles in this reservation. This was a half day affair as our friends Sammera and Akshay had some evening plans! As most of the walking is on a flat land, you can walk much more in a day. The reservation has a great dog park at its entrance and very dog friendly.
Wachusett Mountain [Medium]:
Situated around 2 hrs west from Boston, Wachusett is known for its ski slopes. Wachusett is a prefered destination for skiers in winter, but features lots of trails for hikers in the summers. There is also a paved road that goes till the summit. This road is mostly occupied by bikers (cyclists) who get their weekly exercise by climbing up the 2000 footer. We encountered more cyclists than hikers at the summit. The views from the summit are gorgeous on a clear day. Climbing Wachusett means giving your body the correct amount of exercise needed for the day so that you do sweat but are not super exhausted.
Lonesome Lake [Medium]:
Situated in the white mountains around 2.5 hrs north of Boston, Lonesome lake is one of the very well known lakes in the franconia notch. The AMC hut at the lonesome lake is open all year and features camping and dining facilities. I have a detailed log here of our hike at the lonesome lake.
Mt Hight-> Carter Dome -> Carter Notch Hut [Hard]:
This was an unforgettable experience and wifey’s first 4000 footer. Carter notch hut is situated in a notch created by the Carter dome and the Wildcat mountain. The nearest parking lot is across Mt. Washington and is close to 3 hrs drive from Boston. Instead of directly going to the hut (where we were supposed to camp for the night) we took a longer route and climbed Mt Hight (4800′) first. My friend Andrew was kind enough to match our pace was a great company in this rather strenuous hike. Mt Hight has some breathtaking views from the top. Relatively isolated summit, there was only one other person apart from us. This guy was hiking barefoot. Upon asking the reason, he said that hiking barefoot forces him to focus on his feet to avoid stepping on sharp stones, and forget about everything else from his daily life… a great way to meditate/ concentrate and get refreshed.
After climbing Mt. Hight, we climbed Carter Dome (4900′). This summit, although 100′ taller than Mt Hight, does not have the views that the latter has. We then descended to the hut after 8 hrs of hiking. The descend is very steep (at this point we were glad that we did not do the loop in reverse fashion). The hut is literally in the middle of nowhere, does not have electricity in the bunks and featured a crystal clear sky with millions of stars and the milky way as a treat to our eyes.
Mt Kearsarge [Easy]
Mt Kearsarge is around 1 hr drive from Boston (north west). The summit is close to 3000 ft in elevation. The trail is short but super steep and is great to make you huff and puff. We underestimated the effort and were drenched by the time we reached the summit.
Franconia Ridge – Mt Little Haystack -> Mt Lincoln -> Mt Lafayette [Hard]
The season concluded with a 5000 footer across the franconia ridge trail – and in sub zero temperatures with near zero visibility. Franconia ridge trail crosses three summits – Little haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette and then descends to the Greenleaf hut. The Lafayette place parking lot is situated in the white mountains close to 2.5 hrs from Boston. We started hiking up Mt Little haystack first. Near the summit, we saw that people coming down had their winter gear on which made me realize that hiking on the ridge was going to be brutal. It was, but was as well an unforgettable experience. Completely covered in clouds, with sub zero temperatures and windchill, we started hiking on the ridge from Little haystack summit through Lincoln and finally reaching Mt Lafayette. This was a 10+ hour hike. What kept us going was the thought of a hot beverage after reaching the greenleaf hut. Although the toughest, this was the icing on the hiking-cake for this season
(P.S We carried all homemade meals with us which saved a lot of time and money in eating at restaurants. We started early and made use of a full day with sunlight. We also carried nutri bars, protein shakes, orange juice and a lot of water with us on most of the hikes. Yes, we were over prepared, but I guess that is better than taking chances)