Looking to escape the hectic pace of Boston? No worries, you don’t have to travel too far to enjoy some truly beautiful walks near Boston.
Some are famous destinations, others barely known. All bring about, however, a feeling of tranquility and the chance to feel like you’re a million miles from what they call civilization.
The Boston area offers a surprisingly high number of quiet, scenic places. Here are my personal favorites…
Walden Pond State Reservation, Concord
This famous kettle hole formed by glaciers 10,000 to 12,000 years ago is best known as the home of Henry David Thoreau. The 45-minute walk around the pond offers some of the most scenic views in eastern Massachusetts. The wooded paths along the pond are perfect for walking, year-round, depending on weather conditions. The warmer weather season brings swimming and boating (no gasoline engines, please) opportunities. Fall makes for a wonderful visit with a chill in the air and often spectacular foliage in late October. The 61-acre Walden Pond also offers picnic tables, trails through the tranquil Walden Woods and a comprehensive visitor’s center with helpful employees. Also check out the replica of Thoreau’s single-room cabin located about halfway around the pond. Truly one of the most beautiful walks near Boston! Located at 915 Walden St. in Concord, right off Route 2. There is a nominal fee for parking. For more information, log onto the State of Massachusetts’ Walden Pond Reservation web page
Halibut Point State Park, Rockport
The wooded park trail leading to tide pools and rocky ledges make for an easy yet stunningly scenic walk. Try to go on a clear day where the opportunity exists to see Mount Agamenticus, located 81 miles away in York, Maine. What a nice place for a picnic, or just to take solace in the healing properties of the sea. Located at Gott St. in Rockport. For more information, you can check out its state web page just for the Halibut. Sorry, bad pun.
World’s End, Hingham
The perfect place to escape the drama of a shallow world yet the ideal location to see dramatic scenery, it’s hard to top World’s End. This 251-acre park and conservation area features beautiful coastal views of the Boston skyline, carriage paths, rocky hills, woodlands and open fields. Renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the scenic carriage trails. What a fabulous, year-round destination to enjoy walking, picnicking, horseback riding and cross country skiing. Or, you could just do nothing and soak in the glory of Mother Nature. Located at Martin’s Lane in Hingham. There is a nominal fee for parking. For more information, visit The Trustees of Reservations World’s End page.
Bird Park, Walpole
There’s no doubt that Bird Park is one of the most beautiful spots to walk near Boston. So why hasn’t anyone heard of this place outside the Walpole area? Just keep it out little secret! This 89-acre pastoral wonderland — just 18 miles from Boston — features scenic ponds, bubbling brooks, stone bridges, three miles of walking paths, dense rows of trees, meadows and open fields. There’s also a huge stone stage, featuring wonderful summer plays and movies, an October Pumpkins in the Park event and a tree lighting ceremony in December. Additionally, Bird Park also features a kids playground, basketball nets, a bike rack and tennis courts.
Industrialist Charles Sumner Bird, Sr., and his wife, Anna, created the park in 1925 — with the help of John Nolen, an understudy of Olmsted — in memory of their eldest son, Francis William Bird (1881-1918). To this very day, visiting Bird Park makes for one of the most beautiful walks near Boston, although winter is quite popular here, too, with cross country skiers.
Free for everyone to visit! Bird Park is located on Polley Lane is East Walpole. For more information, log onto The Trustees of Reservations Bird Park web page.
Borderland State Park, Easton
I definitely had to include Borderland State Parks as one of the most beautiful walks near Boston. The 20 miles of walking trails provide scenic hikes ranging from easy to difficult. It all depends on your preference but no matter what level, the opportunity is here to connect with nature. Add fishing, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, non-motorized boating, horseback riding, cross country skiing, disc golf and tennis opportunities and you have the perfect place for outdoor recreation. Borderland also features a historic mansion open for tours. The fall is especially beautiful with its many colors during late October. There is a nominal fee for parking. Borderland State Park is located at 259 Massapoag Ave., North Easton. For more information, check out the Borderland State Park web page.
Lake Quannapowitt, Wakefield
Hard to pronounce but easy to love, Lake Quannapowitt features a 3.6 mile paved loop around the scenic lake. It’s not quite as peaceful as the other destinations mentioned in this article, as traffic exists alongside walkers. The huge advantage, however, is that a section of Lake Quannapowitt resides in a thriving downtown district with cute mom and pop shops and restaurants. It’s really the best of both worlds — that is, enjoying a lake walk and the presence of a very nice central district.
Also, be sure to check out the historic bandstand at the Lower Common by the lake(see photo below). This wood and granite structure is a unique treasure built in 1885 as a means to help beautify the park-like surroundings. The bandstand is part of the Wakefield Common Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For the record, I wrote about the bandstand in my book, Massachusetts Town Greens (publisher, Globe Pequot). Check out the chapter on Wakefield and all the other town greens I visited in Massachusetts!
The Lake Quannapowitt area is home to the largest Fourth of July Parade in the state, a Farmers Market, and a lively June Summer Festival, as well as for those who love sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and pedal boats. Free to visit! Lake Quannapowitt is located between Lowell and Main Sts. in Wakefield. For more information on Lake Quannapowitt, visit The Town of Wakefield web site.
What are some of your favorite walks near Boston? Please comment in the box below. Thanks!