Blue Hills Reservation

Covering an area of 28 sq. km, the Blue Hills Reservation is a state park that is situated in Norfolk County in the US State of Massachusetts. The state park is located about 16km to the south of the state capital city of Boston and covers parts of the towns of Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Milton, Randolph, and the city of Quincy. The Blue Hills Reservation is considered as one of the largest patches of underdeveloped conservation land that is located within the Greater Boston area. The Blue Hills Reservation is under the management of the State’s Department of Conservation and Recreation and is one of Massachusetts’ most visited outdoor destinations.

About The Blue Hills Reservation

View of Boston skyline from Blue Hills Reservation.
View of Boston skyline from Blue Hills Reservation. 

Situated within the Blue Hills Reservation is the Great Blue Hill, which rises to an elevation of 194m and is considered as the highest point in the Greater Boston area as well as the Norfolk County. The Great Blue Hill is also considered as the highest among the 22 hills in the Blue Hills chain and the high Blue Hill summit offers hikers with spectacular views of the entire Boston metropolitan area. Placed on the top of the Great Blue Hill is the historic Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory that was established in 1885 and is considered as one of the United States’ oldest continuous weather recording stations. In addition to this, there are several historical colonial and Native American structures that are situated throughout the hills and most of them have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Houghton's Pond in Blue Hills Reservation.
Houghton's Pond in Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, Massachusetts. 

Located in the town of Milton is the Blue Hills Trailside Museum that functions as an interpretive center and hosts a natural history museum and outdoor exhibits of indigenous wildlife. The museum is managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Massachusetts. The Blue Hills Reservation contains 201km of trails and provides its visitors with a variety of recreational activities like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, etc. During the winter months mostly from mid-December to mid-March, cross country skiing and downhill skiing are permissible in the Blue Hills Ski area. The nearby Houghton’s Pond and the Ponkapoag pond are well known for swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, etc.

Climate

The frozen Ponkapoag pond in Blue Hills Reservation.
The Blue Hills Reservation's Ponkapoag pond frozen in winter. 

According to the Köppen climate classification, the Blue Hills Reservation experiences a humid continental climate with short and warm summers and short, but very snowy and cloudy winters. The Blue Hills Reservation receives heavy precipitation throughout the year.

Ecology Of The Blue Hills Reservation

The Blue Hills Reservation features varied terrain which traverses diverse habitats including Atlantic white cedar bog, upland, and bottomland forest, marshes, meadows, swamp and pond edges, etc. These diverse habitats are home to numerous flora and fauna that are classified as endangered in Massachusetts. Some of the plants and animals that are found in the Blue Hills Reservation include dogwood, lady’s slipper, timber rattlesnake, coyotes, copperhead snake, white-tailed deer, turkey vultures, red fox, etc.

Brief History

Wampatuck Road in Blue Hills Reservation.
Wampatuck Road - named after a leader of the Native American Massachusett tribe in the Blue Hills Reservation. 

It is believed that the bluish hue of the mountains was first noticed by the European colonizers who were sailing along the coastline. This bluish hue of the mountains is mainly due to the presence of the mineral riebeckite and therefore the hills and the surrounding area were named “Blue Hills”. The Blue Hills were home to the Native American Massachusett tribe, who named the hill “Massa-adchu-es-et.” The area includes many historic structures that represent the history of quarry workers, farmers, inventors, and Native American explorers who resided and worked in the Great Blue Hill area. The Blue Hills Reservation land area was purchased by the Metropolitan Parks Commission in 1893 as one of the foremost areas in Massachusetts that were dedicated for public recreation. In 1992, the practice of First Day Hikes to celebrate New Year’s Day started with an outdoor activity in the Blue Hills Reservation. By 2012, the program began to be organized throughout the nation under the patronage of America’s State Parks Alliance.

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