Roundup: Day Hikes
We all have moments when we need to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. Luckily, Boston is surrounded by beautiful areas with hiking trails for when you’re craving the silence of nature. A couple hours of driving outside the city will take you to some of the most beautiful day hiking and biking trails in New England. These day hikes range from easy to fairly difficult, so you’ll likely find at least one that fits your current mood.
Franconia Ridge, Franconia, NH
Miles from Boston: 139
This classic New Hampshire hike, which is approximately a two hour drive from Boston and in the White Mountain National Forest, will give you spectacular views (as long as the weather cooperates). The trail is a loop that can be done in either direction— the entire loop is about 8.9 miles, and the last two miles of the loop are above the tree line. If you take Falling Waters Trail, which is 3.25 miles of the Franconia Ridge loop, you’ll come upon several waterfalls— Swiftwater Falls, Stairs Falls, and Cloudline Falls. Feel free to take a swim in one of them to cool off from the summer heat.
Lonesome Lake, Lincoln, NH
Miles from Boston: 142
Also located in the White Mountains, this 3-mile hike takes you to Lonesome Lake, a mountain lake with great views of Franconia Ridge in the distance. You can park at the Lafayette Campground (or camp there overnight) while you hike. After a mile, you’ll hit a steep incline, but you’ll be rewarded by the cold water of the lake at the end of the loop.
Mount Washington, Sargents, NH
Miles from Boston: 163
This hike is a great option for more experienced hikers. Mount Washington is a three hour drive from Boston and it’s the highest peak in the Northeast with challenging trails, beautiful views during the summer months, and rugged terrain. But if you don’t love hiking, this is not the hike for you. Much more than a nature walk, you’ll climb almost 4,000 feet if you make it to the top. The mountain’s website encourages hikers to “gain at least some basic experience in hiking on rough terrain” before attempting Mount Washington, and regular physical fitness before the hike is also encouraged.
Mount Greylock, Adams, Mass.
Miles from Boston: 152
While Mount Washington has Mount Greylock beat in height, Mount Greylock offers a more relaxed hiking vibe. Still the highest peak in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock has incredible views and both easy and difficult trails, and you can even drive up to the summit if you’re feeling lazy. Three hours from Boston, the mountain is known to be quiet, and while you may see other hikers along the way, it’s not nearly as crowded as many of the White Mountain trails. Thunderbolt Trail is a challenging way to summit the mountain, but the guides at the visitors desk can also recommend easier routes for beginning hikers.
Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, Mass.
Miles from Boston: 16
Located about 20 minutes outside of the city, the hiking trails of the Blue Hills Reservation are ideal for days when you want to get outside of the city but not too far out. The reservation covers 7,000 acres, and while it may not present the most challenging hikes, you’ll definitely get to experience moments of quiet while you observe the wildlife around you. Pick up a trail map on your way in to choose a hiking route.
Wahconah Falls State Park, Dalton, Mass.
Miles from Boston: 137
Located about two hours from Boston in the Berkshires, this state park is named for the 40-foot waterfall at its center. The trail to the waterfall is only a half mile long and is rated “moderate” on the difficulty scale, so if you don’t want a strenuous hike, this is a great pick. You can take a picnic, or you can fish in the shade of the forest while you dip your toes in the ice-cold mountain run-off of the waterfall.