Blue Hills Reservation

Quick Facts

Blue Hills Reservation

Massachusetts

(617) 698-1802

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Located only minutes from the bustle of downtown Boston, the DCR Blue Hills Reservation stretches over 7,000 acres from Quincy to Dedham, Milton to Randolph, providing a green oasis in an urban environment. Rising above the horizon, Great Blue Hill reaches a height of 635 feet, the highest of the 22 hills in the Blue Hills chain. From the rocky summit visitors can see over the entire metropolitan area. With its scenic views, varied terrain and 125 miles of trails, the Blue Hills Reservation offers year-round enjoyment for the outdoor enthusiast.

The Blue Hills were so named by early European explorers who, while sailing along the coastline, noticed the bluish hue on the slopes when viewed from a distance. More than ten thousand years before those Europeans arrived, Native Americans made their home in the hills. The Natives referred to themselves as Massachusett, or "people of the great hills". Eventually the Europeans began settling in this region. The colonists built houses and barns, cleared fields for crops and livestock and logged the hillsides for lumber.

In 1893, the Metropolitan Parks Commission purchased the lands of Blue Hills Reservation as one of the first areas set aside for public recreation. Today, the reservation is rich in both archaeological and historic resources. Sixteen historic structures listed on the National Register tell the fascinating tales of Native Americans, explorers, farmers, quarry workers and inventors. Additionally the Blue Hills Weather Observatory, a National Historic Landmark, sits atop Great Blue Hill, as a crowning feature.

The living treasures of the Blue Hills include flora, fauna and natural phenomena - from coyotes to copperheads, dogwoods to lady's slippers, and turkey vultures to dragonflies. Trails traverse upland and bottomland forests, marsh, swamp and pond edges, meadows and an Atlantic white cedar bog. A great variety of plant and animal life thrive in the diverse habitats, including several rare and endangered species in Massachusetts, such as the timber rattlesnake

Map of Blue Hills Reservation (MA)

Latitude, Longitude: 42.213119, -71.094186

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Activities

  • Boating

    Boat on Ponkapoag Pond and on the Neponset River. Non-motorized boats only.

  • Bicycling

    Mountain Bike in designated areas of the reservation. Stop by park headquarters to pick up a mountain bike map. Please respect "No Mountain Bicycling" signs in restricted areas.

  • Camping

    Camp at the Appalachian Mountain Club cabins on Ponkapoag Pond.

  • Climbing

    Rock climb at the Quincy Quarries Historic Site in Quincy and in the Rattlesnake Hill area in the eastern section of the Reservation.

  • Fishing

    Fish in the reservation's ponds. A state fishing license is required. Houghton's Pond and Pine Tree Brook are stocked with trout.

  • Golfing

    Golf at the 36-hole DCR Ponkapoag Golf Course located in Canton on Route 138, 1/2 mile south of Route 93.

  • Hiking

    Hike on 125 miles of scenic trails. Purchase a trail map at the Reservation Headquarters or the Blue Hills Trailside Museum

  • Historic Sites

    Blue Hills Trailside Museum, managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, features cultural and natural history exhibits including a display of live animals of the Blue Hills. Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center offers weather related educational programs for school groups and weather enthusiasts. The Observatory is located at the summit of Great Blue Hill. Educational Programs are offered by DCR Rangers on weekends throughout the year.

  • Horseback Riding

    Please contact park services for more information.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic tables and charcoal grills are available at Houghton's Pond. Groups of 25 or more must have a permit.

  • Water Sports

    Swim at Houghton's Pond beach with DCR lifeguard supervision. Seasonal restrooms provided.

  • Winter Sports

    Ice Skate at an DCR skating rink in the Blue Hills. Cross-country ski on trails throughout the reservation with sufficient snow cover. A free Cross-Country Ski Routes brochure is available at the Reservation Headquarters. Downhill ski at the William F. Rogers Ski Slopes on Great Blue Hill.

Directions

Driving

Take Route 93 to Exit 3, Houghton's Pond. Turn right at the stop sign onto Hillside Street. Houghton's Pond is located approximately 1/4 miles on the right; Continue 1/4 miles to the reservation headquarters on the left.

Public Transportation

MBTA: The Great Blue Hill and Houghton's Pond sections are accessible from the Red Line to Ashmont Station. From Ashmont, take the high speed line to Mattapan. The Canton and Blue Hills bus services the Trailside Museum and Great Blue Hill on Route 138. For the Houghton's Pond area, exit the bus at Blue Hill River Road. Cross the road and walk one mile east on Hillside Street.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(617) 698-1802

Links