A trip to Boston doesn’t necessarily mean spending the duration of your trip strolling down city streets or occupying a park bench for a bit of fresh air. After all, this city is fringed by more than a thousand miles of attractive New England coastline, and it’s just a two-hour drive from the Berkshires.
Travelers looking for a day trip (and a quick way to get back in touch with nature) will find a bounty of day hikes from either downtown Boston or Cambridge. Whether you’ve got a car or are making use of Boston’s network of local and regional trains, there are countless routes to take for a day hike this spring.
West Rattlesnake Mountain
Believe it or not, you can be in New Hampshire in under two hours. In Holderness, there’s an easy hike up West Rattlesnake Mountain that offers views of Squam Lake. It’s two-miles round-trip, though visitors can easily tack on a moderate East Rattlesnake trail for a longer, more challenging outing.
Take the family to the Walden Pond State Reservation—home to writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau—for a relaxing loop just shy of two miles long. After circling the glacial kettle-hole pond, consider a picnic on the fringe of the Walden Woods or an afternoon and check out the replica of Thoreau’s one-room cabin.
Just outside of the city in Jamaica Plain is the Arnold Arboretum. Travelers can spend hours exploring the manicured grounds—all 281 acres—which are home to more than 15,000 trees and a number of gardens (the Lilac Collection, with over 165 specimens, is a highlight for spring visits). Head to the top of Peters Hill for views of the Boston skyline over the park’s tree canopy. Best of all, the arboretum can be reached by taking the Orange Line train to Forest Hills.
Pick a section of the 63-mile-long Mohawk Trail route if you want to experience the historic Native American trade route in a single day. Expect a two-hour commute to some of the trail’s highlights in Western Massachusetts, including the Bridge of Flowers. Come early spring, hikers can cross the defunct trolley bridge, now covered in blooming plants. There are also state parks and forests scattered across the 50,000-acre stretch.
The highest peak in Massachusetts might look imposing, but there are plenty of easy and moderate trails accessible to day hikers at Mount Greylock. Just be sure to get an early start, as the mountain is nearly three hours from Boston. Consider the easy Rounds Rock & Jones Nose Loop, approximately 3-miles-long, or the Views and Falls trail, which covers 5.5 miles and follows a 19th-century carriage road to ledges, cascade-style waterfalls, and old-growth forests.
Great Blue Hill is the tallest point on the Atlantic seaboard south of Maine’s Acadia National Park. For something challenging, attempt the 9 mile round-trip Skyline Trail, which leads travelers through the Blue Hills Reservation. Plan on spending at least six hours tackling the route, only a 22 minute drive from West Cambridge. Linger at the top of Great Blue Hill for sweeping views of the city and the island-dotted coastline.