One marvelous thing about Boston is that it’s remarkably easy to get to green space — woods even — quickly. And though you won’t be able to scale the dramatic elevation that you’d find if you drove further north to, say, the White Mountains, there’s still plenty of natural beauty to be had in close proximity to the city (a bonus, given how much it costs to fill the tank these days).
If you’ve got kids, bring them along to enjoy exercise and nature exploration, or up the intensity of your own hike by toting your little one in a backpack carrier. Here’s a roundup of top hiking spots (ordered by acreage) around Boston – all are within the 93/95 loop around the city. – By Christine Koh
Blue Hills Reservation
Just 15 minutes south of Boston, the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton is expansive – over 7,000 acres, with a peak elevation of 635 feet. Coded maps allow both casual and experienced hikers many options across 125 miles of trails.
Middlesex Fells Reservation
In the opposite direction, the Middlesex Fells Reservation is a remarkably large green space (2,500 acres) preserved within a densely packed urban area 15 minutes north of Boston (the Fells crosses into Malden, Medford, Stoneham, Melrose, and Winchester). The Friends of the Fells regularly post free hikes and events, including a Babes in the Woods programs that encourages parents to come hike with their kids.
Lynn Woods Reservation
About 25 minutes north of Boston, Lynn Woods Reservation in Lynn is the second largest municipal park in the United States. The reservation spans 2,200 acres with a couple of hills close to 300 feet in elevation. The Friends of Lynn Woods offer programming through the year, including a Kids Day upcoming in July.
Cutler Park Reservation
Cutler Park Reservation in Needham and Dedham is a 700-acre wetland preserve that draws over 100 species of birds, making it a great spot for hikers who also like to bird watch.
Just west of Lynn Woods Reservation is Breakheart Reservation in Saugus and Wakefield, a 640-acre hardwood forest. This reservation includes seven rocky hills over 200 feet high, offering views both urban and bucolic.
Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned freelance writer, editor, and designer. She is the founder and editor of Boston Mamas, the designer behind Posh Peacock, and writes a personal blog at Pop Discourse.