Want to hike but don’t have a car? The Walking City Trail connects 25 miles of green space throughout Boston

While New England boasts great mountain ranges, freelance journalist Miles Howard insists Boston residents do not need to leave the city (or own a car) for a day of hiking. This week he launched the Walking City Trail, a map which links green spaces throughout Boston to create a 25-mile trail.

The trail is split into four sections, ranging from around 5 to 7 miles. The first section goes from the Harvest River Bridge through to Stony Brook Reservation. The second section goes from the Arnold Arboretum to Jamaica Pond. Section three is from Olmsted Park to the Fens. The final section starts at Esplanade Park and ends at Bunker Hill.

“You’ve got several points of access, all of which are public transit–accessible, and that really was one of the key ideas behind creating this trail was breaking down barriers of access to hiking,” Howard said on Boston Public Radio, “To go to Yosemite or even Western Mass., you often need access to a vehicle, and many of us don’t have that.”

Howard pointed to growing trends in both the popularity of hiking, and in the desire for multi-use green spaces and pedestrian-friendly routes in cities. His inspiration for the Walking City Trail came from San Francisco’s Crosstown Trail, a 17-mile route through the city.

“I like [city hiking] because there’s an improbability to the entire thing,” Howard said. “I love the diversity of what a green space looks like in Boston, I love the ease of getting from one to the next, and I love how easily you can just stitch them together.”

With the range of green spaces in Boston, Howard organized the Walking City Trail along routes that make hikers feel like they are no longer in a city.

“There is this immersive quality that just makes you kind of incredulous that you’re still within the boundaries of a major city … the green spaces here that really take you out of your element well, without ever taking you out of Boston proper,” he said.

The Walking City Trail does not have its own blazes yet, but Howard created maps hikers can download or print. In the future, he hopes to expand the project with multi-language directions and more detailed maps.

A river between trees.
The Walking City Trail, at bostontrails.org, connects 25 miles of green space in Boston.

Miles Howard

Other recommendations for places to get outside, from our listeners:

Boston Public Radio opened text lines to hear from listeners their favorite routes. Here are some recommendations:

Mary in Wareham: “The very best place to hike in this area is the Blue Hills Reservation just south of Boston, comprising parts of Milton, Canton, Quincy, Randolph and Hyde Park.”

Sophia in Cambridge: “My favorite spot is Mt Auburn Cemetery. Visitors need to be mindful of the rules: no picnics, running or bicycles. Then walk two blocks to a great walk around Fresh Pond!”

Seth in Stoneham: “Re: great hiking spots, how has no one mentioned the Middlesex Fells north of Boston!?!”

Cecilia in Indiana: “I quite like the trail along the Merrimack in Haverhill … there’s the boardwalk on the downtown side, and the trail on the Bradford side.”

Jimmy in Marshfield: “Best parks ever: Lars Anderson in Brookline or the Arnold Arboretum.”

John in Ashland: “My favorite hikes near Boston are the Middlesex Fells and Blue Hills [reservations], There are a lot in Metro West where we live now too.”

Helen in Arlington: “I love to walk around Horn Pond. Lots of wildlife and great for kids to explore.”

Mike in Quincy: “You can walk from Squantum in Quincy to Thompson Island across a sand bar when the tide is low.”

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