The 6 Best Hiking and Walking Trails Near Boston, Massachusetts

The trail along the Charles Rivers offers sweeping city views
The trail along the Charles Rivers offers sweeping city views | © Jon Bilous / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Caroline Teel
16 July 2020

You don’t have to drive all the way to the White Mountains to find good walking and hiking trails – there are plenty of scenic routes in and around Boston. The city itself is home to many off-street trails, from historic paths past locations such as the Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall and Paul Revere’s House; to steep slopes through Blue Hills Reservation that feel miles away from the urban bustle.

The Freedom Trail

Historical Landmark
Map View
The Freedom Trail, Boston.
© Peter Conner / Alamy Stock Photo
Get a side of history with your exercise on Boston’s famous Freedom Trail. This 2.5mi (4km) trail is a must-do for any tourist and is marked by a red line (either paint or brick) that runs through 16 historic sites. The path will take you past the Old South Meeting House (where the Boston Tea Party began), Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s House and more. The trail starts at the Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument.

Skyline Trail Loop, Middlesex Fells

Hiking Trail
Map View

The Skyline Trail Loop is one of the Middlesex Fells’ (or just the Fells as Bostonians call it) most popular paths, and for good reason. This 7.6mi (12.2km) route offers a decent amount of elevation gain (935ft/285m), accompanied by views of the trail’s namesake – the Boston skyline. If you’re just here for the panoramas, you don’t have to walk the entire loop trail as there are plenty of shorter sections leading to the summit.

Arnold Arboretum Trail

Botanical Garden
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Sights around the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University
© Marcus Baker / Alamy Stock Photo

The Arnold Arboretum is a peaceful oasis within Boston. Managed by Harvard University, this 281-acre (114ha) park is free and open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day. See everything that the arboretum has to offer on this easy, level trail that loops around the entire park – but make sure you leave time to read the signs along the way that identify the different types of plant life.

Charles River Greenway

Hiking Trail
Map View
The Charles River at North Point Park in Boston, Massachusetts.
© Jon Bilous / Alamy Stock Photo

If you want solitude along the Charles River Greenway, come for a sunrise walk or jog. At all other times of day, this shared-use path is bustling with walkers, runners, cyclists and rollerbladers. With more than 20mi (32km), this trail is the longest off-street path in the city (which explains its popularity) and runs along the Charles River, offering sweeping Boston views around every bend.

Minuteman Commuter Bikeway

Map View

As its name indicates, the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway is a popular cyclist commuting path from Bedford to Cambridge. However, the trail is shared use, and its paved, level surface is great for walkers and joggers as well. The 10mi (16km) route can be made even longer by connecting to the Somerville Community Path at the end by Alewife T-station. Hungry or thirsty? There are a few towns along the way to break up your walk for some refreshments.

Skyline Trail, Blue Hills

Map View
View of the Boston skyline, Boston Harbor, and Quincy as seen from atop the Great Blue Hill south of  Boston, Massachusetts, USA
© Marcus Baker / Alamy Stock Photo

Located 10.5mi (16.9km) outside Boston, the Blue Hills Reservation encompasses over 7,000 acres (2,833ha) of green, rolling hills. For a real challenge, opt to summit Great Blue Hill (the highest of the 22 hills in the park). You’ll climb 635ft (194m) and be rewarded with incredible views of the Boston skyline. If that’s not enough of a workout for you, there are 125mi (201km) of other trails to explore here, with a wide range of difficulty.

These recommendations were updated on July 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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