Weekend Backpacker: Boston

Beat the Beantown Blahs
Boston's Charles River
Boston's Charles River

New England hiking options are countless, from serious mountaineering above treeline in the White Mountains to oceanside beachcombing. Ancient collisions of continents folded the earth's crust to make New England's mountains. Glaciers carved valleys and cirques. The most interesting climbing is west or north of the city by about three hours. Some fine hikes are in two areas with little elevation gain but with other charms: the Connecticut River Valley (mid-state, Massachusetts) and Cape Cod's Atlantic beaches.

The weather in New England is mostly benign though fickle, with a good deal of sunshine and rarely a full week of rain. Hiking season extends from April through November (mountain peaks open later, close earlier). Above about 2500 feet, especially up north, storms and wind chills can occasionally be deadly.

You can see plenty of wildlife on New England trails, but you won't encounter life-threatening beasts. Bears and rattlesnakes are easy to avoid; skunks and mice may pose greater problems. Adventuring out of Boston is guaranteed to be fun and challenging, all possible in a weekend.

Trip Planning

The Appalachian Mountain Club's Boston bookstore offers almost everything hikers or paddlers in the northeast might want (5 Joy St., on Beacon Hill; 617-523-0636). The AMC sponsors scads of outdoor activities—the friendliest connection to make for New England hiking. Join to support trails work and get discounts. The best source in Boston for guidebooks and maps is Globe Corner Bookstore, Cambridge, in Harvard Square, Church and Palmer Streets (617-497-6277). Check here first for USGS topos. Eastern Mountain Sports, in the Boston University neighborhood (1041 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-254-4250), offers outdoor recreation workshops and sponsored trips. Other Boston-area EMS stores: Burlington, Dedham, Hingham, and Natick.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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