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Massachusetts Hiking Trails
This site is designed to provide quick, organized access to informative Massachusetts hiking websites. Private hiking enthusiasts like you have created excellent web pages on Massachusetts hiking trails -- then posted those pages on free web servers -- only to be ignored by search engines. The purpose of this site is to provide a way to find these personal hiking pages, and make your research easier.
- Appalachian Trail Trail overview for Massachusetts on the Appalachian Trail Conference site. Good place to start if you are planning dayhikes or a trip on this section.
- Appalachian Trail comprehensive personal site by "kathy" with trail narratives, descriptions; access the home page -- it is an excellent AT info resource.
- Appalachian Trail personal narrative on the Massachusetts section from "ma & pa." (that would be their trailnames) includes notes on Ice Gulch, all the usual sights, etc. Entertaining and informative reading, so give it a click.
- Battle Road Trail located in Minute Man National Historic Park, this 5 mile hike retraces the skirmishes between Lexington and Concord, 19 April 1775. Beautiful natural settings, plenty of birds and wildflowers, great place to retrace history and for personal reflection. Brief description with some photos on the Natural Born Hikers website. When you land on this page, you might be at the top, and you'll think you got to the wrong place, looking at a bunch of Indian ruins and that sort of thing. Just scroll down, Battle Road Trail is kind of near the bottom of the page under "Minute Man National Park."
- Berkshires this is a link to berkshirehiking.com, which delivers what the name implies. Good info, easy to use site, friendly tone.
- Boston Area Hiking areas near Boston Massachusetts with distance (if any) from T-stops and bus stations. Quite comprehensive; if you're headed to Beantown you'll definitely want to check out this site by Mike Stadelmaier.
- Boston Harbor islands This is a unit of the National Park Service encompassing a few dozen islands, most of which have some pretty neat hiking trails. When you click on this website, it's mostly about ferry service, trip planning, reservations, that sort of thing. Those things are certainly important, particularly when the destination in question is an island. In any event, there is some information here that is useful to the hiker -- lots of info -- you just have to dig for it. Dig around. Dig dig dig. Did you find the map page? It's excellent. If you live in the greater Boston area, the Boston Harbor Islands are a must-visit.
- Cape Cod "The Cape Cod Trails Conference is an informal network of serious hikers, interested in enhancing the hiking experience on Cape Cod." -- OK, that's their official statement. In our opinion, this is an informal website that does a seriously good job of covering the hiking opportunities on Cape Cod. If you are looking for a blueprint for a hiking website on a specific area, here's one to check out. This site has individual links to specific localities on Cape Cod, which in turn provide individual pages with trail info, parking info, and "insider tips" on where to park and find alternate trailheads during the crowded summer season. All of the individual pages we checked out have a link to a hand-drawn "sketch map" of the hiking trails...and these couldn't be better even if Myles Standish himself drew them. Hiking on the Cape? Take this website with you; you won't need anything else. As of late 2004, this site featured detailed info on Marconi Area, Great Island, Coast Guard Beach, Nickerson State Park, Punkhorn Parklands, Brewster Ponds, Wellfleet Ponds, Herring River, Harwich, Dennis Pond, Griffin and Bound Brook Islands, Paradise Hollow, Truro Ponds, Truro Hills, Head of the Meadow, Nauset Beach and Pochet Island, South Beach and Morris Island, Brewster Beaches (I stumbled through this area once and wish I had this map), Little Sandy Pond and Horse Pond, Sandy Neck, Barnstable Hills, Pleasant Bay, Province Lands, Race Point, South Orleans, Mashpee River, Freemans Way, Hawks Nest State Park, Walk The Length of Cape Cod, Falmouth Long Pond, and Eastham Beaches. All-encompassing, and one of the best hiking websites we've found. Editor's Note: "C.C. Trails" is the individual behind this site, and at age 76 hopes this site will be a legacy for the hiking community and for the Cape. Trust me, it is.
- Carlisle Area About 25% of Carlisle is protected conservation land, which makes for excellent recreational opportunities. Site lists trails and is a good intro to the area. This link goes to the general municipal page, which is about as exciting as watching paint dry. What you gotta do when you click on this link is look for the link titled "CONSERVATION" on the left hand side of the page. Then click on that -- you'll be good to go.
- Mt. Everett all the details, specs, where-to-how-to and a nice brief narrative on the berkshirehiking.com website.
General/Orienteering An orienteering course is a series of checkpoints set up around the woods. Each has a red and white marker -- that's what you're looking for. There's suspense and excitement similar to that of a treasure hunt. Site includes orienteering reports in Mass., descriptions of areas, good info for orienteering enthusiasts. Site by Tony Maniscalco, Agawam, MA.
- Mt. Greylock GORP page for hiking on the AT and other trails at the Bay State's highest mountain.
- Lost Airfields This isn't a trail link at all; it's a website of abandoned airfields in NE Massachusetts, dating from the heyday of aviation. Maps, directions, photos...it's all here. You could hike to some of the locations, I suppose, but the real reason for listing this site is that it's just plain fascinating. If you're the type who likes hiking, you probably like exploring...and trust me, your kids will roll their eyes when you drive by a strip mall and tell them there used to be a big airport there. The old topo maps are way cool. If this sounds interesting, and you've never heard the term "industrial archaeology" before, be warned that it can be an addictive hobby...
- Marconi Area -- Cape Cod National Seashore This is on the Cape Cod Trails Conference website (see above) and we only call this link out specifically because the Marconi area is just a really neat place...has that whole "Outermost House" feeling about it. This website tells you everything you need to know.
- Minuteman National Historic Park OK, so this isn't a hiking guide. It's the National Park Service site, which has all sorts of information, as long as you're willing to pursue dead end links, and patiently sort through the patently frustrating site design. Yeah, there's information in here somewhere.
- New England - General Hiking Forum Here's an online message forum called HikingNewEngland.com. Moderated by Andrew Watson, this is an all-New England forum, Most of the community members are residents of Massachusetts, but as you can imagine most of the threads are about the White Mountains. But hey, that's really a big part of the Mass. hiking scene, so it's worth a look.
- Northampton Area trail guides, general information, photos. Pretty decent little page on NorthamptonGuide.com.
- The Pirate Trail The Pirate Legend Trek and Trail are one of the most popular Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Girl Scout hiking areas in all of New England. These trails are located in the Lynn Woods Reservation in Lynn, Massachusetts. You can choose from a 4 mile (Trek) or a 10 mile (Trail) for your adventure. From the Scouts New England web site.
- Purgatory Chasm This is one of the coolest little geological sites in New England. Short hike, lots of neat features. Great web page by Liz Stewart. Wicked!
- Purgatory Chasm map .pdf file by Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management. This link is provided just in case you want it; the site listed immediately above is much better. You know, if you live in the Eastern Mass/RI/Western CT area and you haven't visited Purgatory Chasm, you really ought to have your head examined. I believe the term for Purgatory Chasm is "wicked awesome."
- Wellesley Area this is an official town of Wellesley webpage with nice descriptions and directions to about a dozen public hiking trails. Excellent local resource here.
- Westborough Charm Bracelet Trail Work continues to create a network of walking trails that will come to highlight and protect the natural beauty of the area in and around Westborough, Massachusetts which lies about 30 miles due west of Boston. This trail is envisioned to form a continuous bracelet around the town, connecting communities, parks, and open spaces with smaller charm trails within them. It also earns kudos for having a wicked cool name.
I will remember Massachusetts...
It's no secret that the citizenry of the Commonwealth lean a bit toward the left, so they go to great pains to ensure that plenty of public recreation lands are set aside every time a new Filene's or Legal Seafood is built. These open spaces naturally are riddled with trails -- some dating to pre-Colonial times. This, combined with a number of outstanding areas such as the Berkshires, Cape Cod, etc. has resulted in an incredible amount of great hiking opportunities. Sure, taxes are high, you need a permit to install a mailbox, and the Red Sox...but hey -- you really can't beat the number of hiking opportunities Massachusetts provides. Unfortunately, a lot of the local rambles have no publicity, and certainly no published guide. As we find information online, we post it here.
Q: How do you get to Noo Hampsha? A: Drive nawth til you get to a likka staw.
An outstanding resource for residents is 50 Hikes in Massachusetts by Brian White and John Brady. Now, the "50 Hikes " Series isn't coffee table material (well, maybe for my coffee table, and perhaps yours too I guess) but they always include hikes that even the locals aren't always aware of, and I find they usually introduce me to hiking areas that present other trail opportunities...so many trails, so little time...
Hiking with Children
Too many of us underestimate our kids' ability to tackle a decent hike. From the time my daughters were six, they've crushed me on virtually every hike we've made. The most glaring was when I stumbled down from Mt. Washington, to find them waiting by the car...skipping around. Skipping! We had been gone eight hours, and they were prancing about, ready for more. A book that puts this all in perspective for you, and will set you up with some semi-challenging trails you didn't realize your kids could tackle is Best Hikes With Children in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, by Cynthia and Thomas Lewis. This is a link on amazon, and it will enable you to save a few dollars off the bookstore price. I periodically see used copies available on amazon, (kids do grow up, I suppose) which tend to be just fine and are usually sold at a fraction of the cost.
The only other book I've read that I can recommend on this Massachusetts page is 3000 Degrees, which is the complete story of the Worcester Cold Storage fire, a four-alarm nightmare that took the lives of six dedicated firemen in Worcester on December 3, 1999. Now I realize it has nothing to do with hiking, but it sure is one incredible book about some rather special people. If you've read The Perfect Storm or Into Thin Air or any of those sorts of books, 3000 Degrees is right in there. That link also goes to Amazon, and last time I checked there were some dirt cheap used copies. You can't beat that with a stick.
If you recognized the headline "I will remember Massachusetts" as the tagline from the Bee Gees' Massachusetts, give yourself five slackpacker trivia points.
-- Rick Bolger
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Got kids? Got kids? Recently caught this guy, Brady Rymer, at a show in the northeast. Infectious to say the least, a fun, energetic sing-along type thing had the audience singing and grinning from ear to ear. Now don't ask why, but I bought the CD (my own kids are teenagers) and now I can't get these tunes out of my head. If you've got kids between the ages of 2 and 7 or thereabouts, you'll just love this music. So much better musically and lyrically than the usual drivel recorded for kids, that mind-numbing stuff that drives you nuts. If you don't have kids, you'll have to think up some other excuse for buying it. And when you do, let me know, because my daughters think I'm crazy. Not sure where'd you find it in stores, so here's a direct link to Amazon.com for I Found It! and again, the singer's name is Brady Rymer. Just great stuff, excellent gift for pre-K kids.
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