Blue Hills Reservation: 5 Summits via the Skyline Loop Trail
View of Great Blue Hill from Wolcott
By guest bloggers the Rice family
Back again at the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Massachusetts this past weekend for another October Fall Foliage Hike! From traverses to loops the Blue Hills contain 150 miles of trails to explore that gave us views of Boston’s Harbor & skyline. Great if you want to just walk with your dog or condition yourself for hiking in the mountains. It’s the closest option to Rhode Island if your looking for some good rugged terrain.
We first started out at the Trailside Museum (here they’ve got plenty of maps for $3) we looked through the gift shop and viewed some of the free outdoor animal exhibits that feature native wildlife such as white-tailed deer, a river otter, turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, and snowy owls.
The ski area lift was running today offering visitors foliage rides for $2 up to the Blue Hills Meteorological Observatory so we took the lift up. Again we decided to hike the 4.0 mile Blue Blazed Skyline loop trail. Starting from atop of 635 ft Great Blue Hill this trail loop reaches 5 summits, Houghton, Hancock, Hemenway & Wolcott Hills before returning to Great Blue Hill.
Leaving the rocky summit behind the trail descended quickly over mostly big rocks, some loose with a few large enough to be considered slabs before reaching an old carriage road below. This road is wide and flat for a short distance before it switch’s back and once again becomes a trail. Passing over a couple of log bridges (dry) we began climbing up to the top of Houghton Hill. From this 1st summit there are no real views so we once again hiked downhill steeply over more loose stone and large rock onto Hillside Street. This is a busy street and here we had a very short road walk (left) to the State Park Headquarters which is at 1.9 miles, just about the halfway point for this loop. Stopping here we had a snack and a bathroom break. A public restroom is located in the rear of the headquarters building and water is available.
Rested & re-fueled we began to steadily climb to the 2nd summit just behind the headquarters, Hancock Hill. The trail up here is bare rock in spots similar to Monadnocks summit, but not for any real distance. Here we had gotten our first epic views of the fall foliage & Houghton’s Pond. A couple of side trail’s on this peak lead around displaying a view of Boston’s Harbor Islands & skyline. Scotty Jr. broke out the binoculars to see if he could locate the island we had camped on this past June, Bumpkin Island.
Scotty looking for Bumpkin Island
Boston skyline from a second view point
You should remain alert while hiking in the Blue Hill reservation and be extra careful when checking out some of the less traveled side paths. There are known small populations of Timber Rattlers & Copperheads, both poisonous vipers. I’ve been told these areas remain a secret to protect the few that remain and that visitors most likely will not encounter one. We didn’t.
Leaving Hancock Hill and the great views behind we jumped back onto the Skyline trail then up and over #3 & #4, Hemenway and Wolcott Hills. There are some nice views of Great Blue as we rounded the top of Wolcott. Before we knew it we were again at the base of Great Blue Hill heading back up to the summit. Reaching the top we sat perched for a bit watching the sun set before hiking down the ski slope. The evening sky was so clear we could see Mt. Wachusett (44 miles) and Mt. Monadnock (77 miles) on the Western horizon.
Out and back / 4.0 miles , 3.5 hours.
Chairlift at sunset