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Doggin’ Boston: Where To Hike With Your Dog In Beantown

Boston Common, bounded by Beacon, Charles, Boylston, Tremont and Park streets, is the oldest public park in the country, created in 1634 as a “cow pasture and training field” for common use. Cattle grazed here for 200 years, and could look up every now and then to see the occasional public hanging that took place in the Common.

The park is about 50 acres in size and is the anchor for the Emerald Necklace, a

system of connected parks that visit many of Boston’s neighborhoods. Dogs are

welcome on Boston Common and can even run off-leash from 5-7 a.m. and 5-7


Nearby, 15 minutes to the south of Boston, is the dog-friendly Blue Hills

Reservation. The first settlers came to this area 10,000 years ago and called

themselves “Massachusett,” meaning “people of the hills.” When European

explorers set sight on the forested slopes while sailing along the coastline they

named the region the Blue Hills.

They logged the hillsides to build hoses and barns and cleared the lowlands for

crops and livestock. In 1893, the Metropolitan Parks Commission made the Blue

Hills one of their first purchases for land set aside for recreation. Today, Blue Hills

Reservation maintains 7,000 acres of land where you can hike with your dog in the

shadow of Boston.

Some 125 miles of trails visit a variety of terrain from hills and meadows to forests

and wetlands, including a unique Atlantic white cedar bog. Some of the canine

hiking can be quite challenging and many of the trails are strewn with rocks. Great

Blue Hill, rising 635 feet above the Neponsett Valley, is the highest of the 22 hills

in the Blue Hills chain.

Keep your head up for sweeping views of the metropolitan area. Also keep an eye

out for the diverse wildlife in the Blue Hills Reservation that is not often associated

with Boston – timber rattlesnakes, coyote and otters. Most of the trails are marked

but a trail map is a wise purchase for day hikes – one is on sale at park

headquarters (695 Hillside Street) or the Blue Hills Trailside Museum (1904 Canton


The National Register of Historic Places lists 16 structures from Blue Hills

Reservation. The most celebrated sits at the summit of Great Blue Hill – the Blue Hill

Weather Observatory. Still used as a weather station, the observatory is in Eliot

Tower, a stone observation post built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the


The Blue Hills Reservation is headquartered in Milton, 8 miles south of Boston. Take

Route 93 to Exit 3, Houghton’s Pond. Turn right at the stop sign onto Hillside Street.

Houghton’s Pond is located approximately 1/4 miles on the right; continue 1/4

miles to the reservation headquarters on the left.

copyright 2006

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