Are you considering driving all the way to Vermont or New Hampshire this fall to take in the foliage? Don’t bother! There’s a place right here in Boston where you can stroll through the woods, play in the leaves, and escape the rat race. So, what is this place you ask? It’s Boston’s Emerald Necklace.
Stretching from the Back Bay Fens all the way to Roslindale, the Emerald Necklace is (if you’ll excuse the pun) a real gem. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, creator of Manhattan’s Central Park, the Emerald Necklace is a chain of 6 parks designed to appear in their natural state. Throughout the parks, trees line ponds, old stone bridges cross brooks, and walking paths meander through the woods. Whether to see the nation’s oldest wartime “Victory Garden” in The Fen’s, jogging along the muddy river at Riverway Park, fishing at the majestic Jamaica Pond, or taking a peaceful walk through the forest in Olmstead Park, around 1 million people visit the Emerald Necklace each year.
The necklace’s crown jewel is the Arnold Arboretum. Considered to be one of the world’s leading locations for the study of plants, the Arnold Arboretum is the oldest public Arboretum in North America. Founded in 1872, it has been the goal of Harvard University and the Arboretum to build a collection of plants from across the globe. Currently, that collection consists of 15,234 woody plants in total. That’s not a typo folks. 15,234 plants from around the world, right here in Boston, in one beautiful location. If you’re looking to see fall, there’s no place around offering a more diverse and breathtaking experience.
Upon your arrival, you’ll find maps placed at all of the entrances and along all of the trails. For your convenience, the 256 acre park is divided into 31 different regions, all labeled on the maps, to help you find the trees you’re most interested in. Maybe you feel like walking through the maples, watching their red and orange leaves fall into the ponds. Maybe you’d rather stroll past the dove trees and the beeches, playfully kicking at the leaves that cover the path like a mosaic. No matter what you decide to do, don’t miss the impressive walk up Peter’s Hill. After ascending through the fiery red Hawthorne trees, and past the glowing yellow of the ginkgo’s, you will find a sight beyond words from the summit. The Arboretum lays before you in its entirety; a patchwork of reds, yellows and oranges resembles a quilt. Standing in the distance, ever so close, is the Boston skyline, where inside the Pru, people are swarming to the windows for a view that pales in comparison to where you are standing right now.
The Emerald Necklace is accessible by public transportation via the Green Line and bus. Parking is also available, but limited, in most locations. www.emeraldnecklace.org
The Arboretum can be accesed via the Orange Line at Forest Hills, or via bus. There is also parking street parking available, if you feel the need to drive. For more information and directions, visit http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/