New England becomes wreathed in flame once autumn quietly peaks, a portrait that captures the death of summer in vivid hues, the brilliance of fall in the flames that fade to the cold tranquility of winter where snow falls in nature’s secret places, ashes cast to the fickle wind. The opportunity to engage as witness to this is a part of New England.
It can be easy to forget the connection to nature as living near or in the city can be overwhelming. The joy and awe of life is easily crushed in the lifeless jaws of the city; work and school, bills and rent, girlfriends, boyfriends, old friends, new friends—a parade of need, demanding you, owning you, wanting more of you. The token trees scattered through the soulless towers of monolithic grey stone and gray paved paths worn down by the hopeless footsteps of a thousand others only serve as a reminder that today is much the same as any other day. Escape beckons. Nature calls.
Experience the 22 gently rolling hills that make up the 7,000 acre reservation of the Blue Hills. Gentle paths and difficult grinding climbs are part of the promise waiting there, strewn about over 125 miles of trails. Breathe in the clean air. Experience the silence of the forest, pure and true. Escape from the shrine of material excess and noise, and reawaken that sense of the sublime, of the immortal—the awe of powers greater than man. This comes from a brief 20 minute ride from Boston.
The Blue Hills offer select trails for mountain biking, allowing those who crave the physical challenge to pit themselves against nature, traversing through the rocks and roots at steep gradients and flying down inclines that require quick reactions, dodging trees and hikers alike, a test against themselves where only the brilliant foliage stands witness. Or train up and join in, every year there’s a Mountain Bike Day where avid mountain bikers can ride together and share their joy of the experience. More information on that can be found here: http://www.nemba.org/nembaevents/events.html
Also within the reservation is Houghton’s Pond. BBQ pits and grills dot the benches and tables where people can gather and feast. Nearby lay softball fields, as well as 36 holes of golf. Boating and fishing are available, though permits and hunting license are required. Camping in the area is also available, but be wary of both beast and man alike. As long as the proper safety precautions are taken, this can be a safe and enjoyable experience.
In case you get tired wandering the park, or get interested in the history there are a few other options available to you. You could check out the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory: established in 1885 to study changes in the atmosphere. Now it is a National Historical Landmark, easily accessible and still performing its atmospheric inquiries. Alternatively, you could peek in at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Inside you’d find exhibits that feature and detail the local wildlife. Admission to the museum costs $3.00 per adult, $2.00 per senior citizen, and $1.50 per child. For more information regarding the Observatory or the Museum, consult the following:
Meteorological Observatory: (617) 696-1014
Trailside Museum: 617-333-0690 http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Blue_Hills/index.php
As time moves on without the command of any master, the fragile beauty of the fall foliage will swiftly succumb to the cold solemnity and quiet of winter. For those seeking a gentle outdoor adventure, the Blue Hills Reservation will not disappoint. To witness the autumnal passing in the Blue Hills offers, for a brief moment, a glimpse of the sublime and a whisper of peace.
Blue Hills Reservation can be reached by taking Route 93 to exit 3 (Houghton's Pond). For more information on the reservation, go to: http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/metroboston/blue.htm