Blue Hills Reservation is my favorite place to wike. It's beautiful year-round, full of trails of varying lengths and difficulties, and super convenient to the city of Boston. With 125 miles of trails to wike, you will notice many posts about Blue Hills Reservation in the future! You can take a look at the trail map here and also a list of suggested hikes with some information about them here. Wherever you hike in the Blue Hills, I highly recommend downloading the trail map to your use in your "ibooks" section of your iphone. It's nice to be able to refer to the trail markers without pulling out the entire trail map (which you can purchase, if you'd like, at the Trailside Museum-- a highly recommended place to visit, especially with children).
This week, wike baby and I met up with another new mom friend and her daughter for a wike near Chickatawbut Tower and Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation. As you approach the hill on Chickatawbut Road, you'll notice the amazing view of the city from the parking lot overlook. Stop to enjoy it. There is even a telescope, so you can get a close up view of your favorite buildings-- super fun with kids! Do your own photo shoot, like we did:
After you enjoy the overlook, head up the stone steps towards the picnic pavilion. You can’t miss it. You’ll also notice Chickatawbut Tower directly behind it. My understanding is that this tower used to be open to the public, much like Great Blue Hill Observation Tower, however was shut down by the police. (If you know more about this, please share with me!) You might notice the graffiti, which would be a good conversation to be prepared to have with your little one. This aside, it is quite a peaceful place! It is amazing to see the city at a distance and know its hustle and bustle while being surrounded by such a quiet, peaceful natural setting.
While you are looking at the tower and pavilion, turn on your imagination and give your child their imagination hat to turn on, too. These facilities were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work relief program part of the New Deal from 1933-1942. You can envision the young men hard at work building these facilities.
When you’re ready, I recommend starting with the yellow dot trail, which is quite short and very easy. The path is wide--but not stroller friendly. It’s fun for kids to look for the yellow dot trail markers on the trees and rocks, but do stop to enjoy the flora and fauna, too! That’s why you’re there, of course!
Then, you can use your trail map and veer off to explore. We followed the blue Skyline Trail eastward. It was a slightly harrowing to climb the rocks and hills with babies in front carriers. We made-do, but I’m not sure I would recommend it for anyone less than super adventurous. However, the whole area would be really fun with children 4 and up, who might enjoy getting on hands and knees to scramble around! (Just to be clear: if you’re an adult, there is absolutely no scrambling necessary.)
This time of year, the whole ecosystem is showing those fun signs of spring. Take in the sounds of the different types of birds chirping, look for those beautiful wildflowers, notice the greening of the trees. And take in a big whiff of the scents of spring-- so sweet and crisp! I like trying to figure out which birds are making which sounds and the origin of those aromatic scents.
Near when you get to marker 3103, you’ll see an even more spectacular view of the city than you did from the parking lot and you’ll also see the water off the coast. I have a photo of the city from here (totally doesn’t do it justice, you MUST see it for yourself). I don’t have a photo of the water, so you’ll have to use your imagination and then go see it for yourself!
From here, we got a bit “lost”, which just means I wasn’t sure where the trail was supposed to be. It is difficult to get too lost in Blue Hills Reservation. You’re bound to return to civilization soon and certain to find a trail marker to help you out within minutes. That being said, when you have babies in tow, timing is everything. We stumbled upon an adorable little pond, which we couldn’t find on the map, and then decided to head back to our yellow dot trail. It was feeding time for the little ones anyway.
Another sign of spring joined me for the ride home… a small spider fell on my lap while I was driving! She was probably enjoying the ride on my shoulder or head and decided to introduce herself mid-drive. Not the greatest timing! It was a good reminder for us to check for ticks when we got home, too. Phew, all clear!
Chickatawbut Tower is a great starting point for a Blue Hills wike and exploration. Bring your lunch, stay a while! There are tons of other hikes, which I’ll be sure to highlight soon. What is your favorite Blue Hills Reservation wike?