Greater Boston and Cambridge have parks and waterfront places to walk
Plan a romantic getaway
or a dog-enhanced vacation
then see Boston on foot. Harborwalk’s self-guided tour traces the Boston waterfront. The Rose Kennedy Greenway has water features and fountains for cooling off on hot summer days. You’ll find foot paths and trails for hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, plus nature preserves and historic sites. Walk shoreline and tidal pools, woodland back roads, meadows and marshland. The Emerald Necklace urban parks and the Back Bay Fens offer gardens and more. The Minuteman Bikeway is set on a former railroad and includes refreshment stops and restrooms.
The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a mile-and-a-half string of parks in the heart of Boston. The Greenway links six parks: North End Park, Armenian Heritage Park, Wharf District Park, Fort Point Channel Park, Dewey Square Park and Chinatown Park. Seven water features and fountains are popular on hot summer days. The Greenway Carousel, open from mid-April through December, is a new Boston landmark. Fourteen fanciful characters on the carousel are native to Massachusetts.
The Greenway hosts art exhibits, festivals, a farmers market, and a concert series. The Greenway is easily accessible by several MBTA trains: the Red Line, Silver Line and Commuter Rail at South Station; the Blue Line at the Aquarium; and the Orange and Green Lines at Haymarket. The Greenway is wheelchair accessible.
Off Mystic Valley Parkway
Medford, Somerville, Everett, MA
Series of parks and green spaces along Mystic River; accessible by MBTA trains; walking, biking, picnicking, swimming
The Mystic River Reservation is a string of parks and green spaces along the Mystic River. There is plenty of space for walking and jogging along the river front. These green spaces also are accessible from Boston and Cambridge by MBTA commuter trains. See full description
of Mystic River Reservation.
Islands in Boston Harbor, and easy ferry ride from downtown. Swimming, hiking, picnicking. A fun day trip
There are many walking trails on many of the Harbor Islands. Lovells Island has a rocky coastline and tidepools for wading. Explore the remains of historic Fort Standish. On Georges Island, take a relaxing stroll around Civil War-era Fort Warren. There are also plenty of walking and hiking paths on Spectacle Island, Bumpkin Island, Peddocks Island, Thompson Island, Worlds End Island, and Webb Memorial Island.
In addition to historic forts, you'll walk through historic sites like old Native American buildings and a children's hospital. Grape Island is full of colorful wildlife and flora. On Deer Island, hike or walk a 2.6-mile shoreline path and 2 miles of scenic hill trails.
See Boston Harbor Islands
for full description of this park.
Back Bay Fens Park of the Emerald Necklace
The Emerald Necklace is a series of six historic urban parks from the Back Bay of Boston to Dorchester. It was designed a century ago by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The necklace includes places as varied as a shaded bench, basketball courts, an arboretum, and a zoo. One of the parks, Back Bay Fens
, is an eclectic mix of formal and community gardens, ball fields, memorials and historic structures.
To Get There: Avoid driving; parking is difficult. To get to the park, use any of these trains of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority ( MBTA or "the T"
): Green B, C Lines: Hynes/Mass Ave, Kenmore; Green D Line: Hynes/Mass Ave, Kenmore, Fenway; Green E Line: Museum of Fine Arts, Northeastern University; Orange Line: Ruggles.
250 Martin’s Lane
World's End is one of the 30 islands of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreational Area, and comprises over four miles of walking paths that offer dramatic views of the Weir River, Hingham Harbor, and the Boston skyline. In 1889, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to design a residential subdivision here, and his plan included 163 house plots connected by tree-lined roads. The cart paths were cut and the trees planted, but the development never occurred. These wide paths now line broad grassy fields that attract butterflies and are managed to provide habitat for grassland-nesting birds.
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary
280 Eliot Street
At this sanctuary, visitors can enjoy nine miles of hiking trails, in addition to lectures and other programs in a renovated horse barn.
Medfield, MA, 02052
Home to important and rare stand of Rhododendron maximum, the great laurel or rosebay rhododendron, one of only three species of evergreen rhododendrons native to eastern North America. Though listed today as a "threatened" species, rosebay rhododendrons were once more common in Massachusetts; approximately half of the historical populations in Massachusetts have been lost. Currently, there are seven known populations, and the Medfield Rhododendrons colony represents the largest and easternmost population in Massachusetts.
Stony Brook Reservation
Turtle Pond Parkway
Hyde Park, MA
Sunfish and Perch await anglers in Turtle Pond at this 475-acre park and wildlife refuge, featuring fishing areas, biking and hiking trails, public swimming, and picnic areas. Programs are scheduled throughout the year.
307 Main Street
Sheep Pasture is delightfully close to the Boston area, offering a place for a walk, picnic, or simply a getaway on foot into the outdoors, nearly on the threshold of the city. The public welcome to enjoy the land and its walking trails every day of the year, from dawn to dusk. Dogs may come on the property if they are leashed. The Sheep Pasture has trails to walk and farm to visit. The property is fun for walking, bird watching, picnicking, and nature photography. This model farm is operated by the Natural Resources Trust of Easton. Trail map.
William J. Day Blvd.
South Boston, MA
Bayside string of parks and beaches easily accessible to Boston; walking, swimming, fishing
Fort Independence has two main hiking trails; 1.8-mile Pleasure Bay Loop, overlooking scenic Pleasure and Dorchester Bays, and .79-mile-long Castle Island Loop, which leads you in a ring around the Fort. You'll find a telephone located halfway 'round the Bay trail at Sugarbowl Shelter.
See Castle Island, Pleasure Bay, M Street Beach and Carson Beach for full description of this park.
Noon Hill Road
Medfield, MA, 02052
The midday sun passes over the ridge of Noon Hill, giving the Reservation its name. Follow the trail leading to the 370-foot peak, and enjoy sweeping views south across the rolling hills of Walpole and Norfolk. Noon Hill’s 4 ½ miles of trails along forested ridges and slopes feature pine, beech, birch, and hemlock, offer glimpses of turn of the century low stone walls, and in spring, the forest floor is scattered with wildflowers. Picturesque Holt Pond was created around 1764, when Sawmill Brook was dammed to create a mill pond.
Beaver Brook Reservation
Small nature preserve offers biking paths, fishing and swimming areas, interpretive programs, and small historic sites. Full toilet facilities are available.
Milton, MA, 02186
Named for Governor Thomas Hutchinson, the last Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, this hilltop meadow offers views of the Neponset River, its tidal salt marshes, the Boston skyline, and the Boston Harbor Islands. Hutchison’s over royalist leanings made him the object of public ridicule in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, and in 1743 he built for his family a modest country estate on Milton Hill to escape the city. All that remains of the estate today is the field and a "ha-ha" which formed the western boundary of the formal garden.
Turkey Hill Lane
Originally part of a picturesque, early-twentieth-century country estate, Weir River Farm encompasses 75 acres of fields and pastures, woodlands, and a complex of farm and estate buildings, including barns and a carriage house. On a clear day, visitors can view Boston Harbor and the North Shore from the top of Turkey Hill. The farm is being managed to preserve its historic pastoral character, and offers public programs throughout the year, as well as opportunities for hiking, bird watching and picnicking.
Medfield, MA, 02052
Fork Factory Brook’s easy network of trails track the edges of lovely hay fields and meander through wooded upland offering views of surrounding forested wetlands and the remains of a 19th-century pitchfork mill. For a brief time after the Civil War, owners used the mill for a paper cutting enterprise, but it fell into disuse with the advent of coal-power. When Main Street was widened in 1927, the mill was dismantled and the granite reused to construct a house on Foundry Street. Much of the mill site now sits under Route 109, and all that remains is its broad earthen dam and stone raceway.
Medfield, MA, 02052
Across the street from Noon Hill, Shattuck Reservation comprises a forested upland neck of oak and pine overlooking a wet meadow and red maple swamp. Visitors can enjoy hiking, horseback riding and bird watching. A 1.5 mile loop trail leads from the neck across wetlands to two islands that offer views of the Charles River, and the reservation's old stone walls indicate that it was once nineteenth-century pasture.
Carlisle, MA, 01741
The Malcolm Preserve provides a northern gateway to some 1,300 acres of conservation land. A short hiking trail connects the Malcolm Preserve with Two Rod Road, which leads through historic Estabrook Woods. The land comprising the Malcolm Preserve and the adjacent Malcolm Meadows development was once part of a 38-acre farm which raised fruit crops, including raspberries, strawberries, apples, peaches, and pears, as well as vegetables and cut flowers for local markets.
Blue Hills Trailside Museum
1904 Canton Avenue
Museum offers hiking trails, live animals and regularly scheduled programs. There is an admission charge.
The Minuteman Bikeway passes through the area where the American Revolution began in April 1775. Built on an inactive railroad, the trail is used by local residents as a convenient, eco-friendly way to reach train stations. The path is 12 feet wide, plowed in the winter, and includes lots of stops for refreshments and restrooms at Depot Park in Bedford, the Lexington Visitor’s Center, Alewife Station, and business districts along the bikeway. Trail access in Bedford is available at the intersection of South Road and Loomis Street (exit 31B from I-95); at Lexington Center and Arlington Center, and at the Alewife T-Station.
Hammond Pond Reservation
Hammond Pond Parkway
Visitors to this small nature preserve can enjoy fishing, hiking and biking trails, and picnic areas.
Stony Brook Nature Center
This nature center includes a self-guided hiking trail. An extensive boardwalk system helps visitors explore Teal Marsh and its wildlife.
Literary Trail of Greater Boston
Omni Parker House
A tour for everyone who loves history, good books, and beautiful settings.
Discover the homes, gathering places, and landscapes of America's most
beloved authors on a guided tour, or on your own with the Self-Guided Tour
Package. Travel from Boston to Cambridge and Concord and visit sites such
as Walden Pond, Longfellow House, Concord Museum, and Orchard House. Tours
depart from the Omni Parker House the second Saturday of the month,
Walk starts at Old State House, 206 Washington Street
A self-guided walk that traces the history of the Boston waterfront. The tour begins at the Old State House, brochures are available at the National Park Service Visitor's Center on State Street.
Dover, MA, 02492
Chase Woodlands’ 2-½ mile network of gently sloping paths wind through peaceful groves of white pine, beech, hemlock, and yellow birch. As in most of Massachusetts, this woodland consists of second- and third-growth trees, the original virgin forests having been felled to clear land for agriculture in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Picturesque stone walls traverse the woods, marking former farm fields from the property’s agricultural past.
162 West Union Street
Ashland, MA, 01721
Phone: 508 881-4092
This large park on a reservoir offers all manner of water sports along with extensive walking trails. Trail map
Medfield, MA, 02052
Just 30 minutes from downtown Boston
Rocky Woods features over six miles of former woods roads and footpaths rambling through rolling hills of white pine and red oak. Explorers of the four ponds on the reservation may find bullfrogs and painted turtles, and visitors can enjoy catch-and-release fishing from these shores. Recent landscape renovations have created a scenic meadow, grassy common areas, sandy shorelines, and plantings of ornamental shrubs. Restrooms, picnic tables and a pavilion are onsite, and future plans include creating a visitor center and improved children's play area.
Dover, MA, 02030
Named after a chief of the Natick Indians, Noanet Woodlands features 17 miles of shady trails and wooded roads ideal for walking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and horseback riding, and a hike up Noanet Peak rewards visitors with a view of Boston's skyline above the forest canopy. In the early nineteenth century, Noanet Brook was home to a large rolling and slitting mill that made barrel hoops, wheel rims, nail plates, and nail rods from forged iron. Today the mill's twenty-four-foot-high dam and twenty-foot-deep wheel pit are preserved, but visitors will have to imagine the towering thirty-six-foot wheel that powered the mill.
Cohasset & Hingham, MA
The ten miles of trails at Whitney & Thayer Woods include a memorial walk through a lovely stand of flowering shrubs, Ode's Den, (named after Theodore "Ode" Pritchard, who lived under one of the boulders after losing his home in 1830), and the 187-foot summit of Turkey Hill, affording spectacular views of Cohasset Harbor. Visitors can also view a cinderblock NIKE building, once part of an anti-missile radar control station sited here during the Cold War to thwart potential nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.
Quincy Shore Drive
Quincy, MA, 02169
People enjoy walking the trails of this property, which stretch from Wollaston Beach to Caddy Memorial Park to Moswetuset Hummock. The site which has a short loop trail, offers views of Quincy Bay and 144-acre Squantum Marsh. Accessible by the Boston MBTA light rail system. Open year round, dawn to dusk.