Thursday, November 29, 2012

In My Footsteps: Great Blue Hill - Milton, Mass.

            More than a hill, less than a mountain.  Great Blue Hill is part of the larger Blue Hills Reservation in Milton and Canton, Massachusetts.  It is a perfect hike for those who enjoy hiking but it is also small enough, 635 feet to the top, that anybody can enjoy it.  The name Blue Hills came from the first European explorers who noticed a bluish hue on the slopes of the hills when seen from a distance.
However, if hiking does not appeal there is also a Trailside Museum at ground level as well.  This features some cultural and natural history exhibits and also live animals outside.  When I was there I got to see deer, snow owls, hawks, and a playful otter that seemed to do tricks for me while I watched it in its tank.
            The hike up to the top of Great Blue Hill is the main attraction.  The hike begins on trails.  It’s a gradual climb which leads you across a paved road at one point.  That road is not for the average driver, it is for those who are authorized to visit the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center at the summit.  Those are usually school groups or weather professionals. 
            In the summer the hike is much easier.  Add in some snow and it might get a little trickier.  The climb is never too steep but believe me when you’re trudging through six inches of snow it makes it a little slow going.  If there is a choice definitely choose warmer months for a hike.  There is skiing on Great Blue Hill also if that tickles your fancy.
            If you cannot visit Great Blue Hill when it’s warm there are some advantages.  One thing I noticed was the fact that there were hardly any other people along the way.  I was truly alone with my thoughts surrounded by the beauty of nature.  As you ascend to the summit of Great Blue Hill the scenery is not any different from any other forest walk.  That changes as you approach the top.  Suddenly it gets brighter and through the trees you begin to catch glimpses of the tremendous views awaiting you.
             At the top you can see all around you for miles.  There is a picnic area for use in warmer months.  In winter you can hear the sounds of skiers not too far away.  Though the views from the summit are spectacular there is a way to top that.  Eliot Tower is part of a stone building at the summit that can be climbed to the observation deck.  Built over seventy years ago the view from Eliot Tower is spectacular.  The Boston skyline was my favorite site to see from the tower; it’s difficult to miss.  I braved the snow and an icy floor in the tower for that view and it didn’t disappoint.  I made sure to shoot a video of my time there to whet the appetite of any potential travelers.
            Great Blue Hill has so much to offer.  The Trailside Museum has exhibits and animals, there is skiing in winter, a weather station for potential school trips, and of course the beautiful views from the summit at Eliot Tower.  Summer or winter it really does not matter, anytime is a great time to pay this spot a visit.  Have fun and happy traveling!

Great Blue Hill:  Trailside Museum, 1904 Canton Ave (Route 138), Milton.  Take Rt I-93 to exit 2B (Milton, Rt 138 North). Follow the exit ramp to the first set of traffic lights. Go straight through the lights and the parking lot is 0.5 miles ahead on the right. The museum is at the end of the parking lot.

The summit trail in winter.

A deer at the Trailside Museum.
Coming up on Eliot Tower at the summit.
View of the Boston skyline from Eliot Tower.

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