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Urban Safari: Socially Distanced Hikes near Boston

Getting out separately, together!

It has been ten months since mask-wearing became the norm, “social distancing” became a thing, and the search for ways to quarantine without staying inside 24/7 took on epic OMG-I-have-to-get-out-of-this-house proportions.

We posted some ideas over the course of 2020 (outings, food, etc.) and want to begin 2021 with a few more suggestions for those looking to get outside once they are done with their Zoom calls 🙂

Downtown Boston

The actual City of Boston is pretty much a ghost town on the weekends, especially now that Winter has arrived. We were down on the Greenway on New Year’s Day and had the place largely to ourselves. 

Waving to ourselves, because there is practically no one else here

The City was serenely quiet on New Year’s Day. It felt a lot like that scene from Inception where Cobb and his wife stroll around a city of their own making.

A lovely wander, and I made a (n)ice friend

We strolled about for over an hour and saw just a handful of folks. The people who were out were FBM (friendly-but-masked) and kept their distance. It seems like everyone has finally gotten the message that Nature doesn’t care what people “believe.”

Empty, or as we would say in Boson, wicked eerie…

Rocky Narrows Reservations, Sherborn

In 1897, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (the son of the other Frederick Law Olmstead) deeded to The Trustees of the Reservation 21 acres on the Charles River known as Rocky Narrows, aka “Gates of the Charles.” It became The Trustees’ first reservation, and is populated with a mixed forest of hardwoods and evergreens and 50-foot rock walls that date back 650 million years.

We may have ended up wand’ring about on every path shown on the map

Sherborn is about 30 minutes from Boston. The day started out drizzly and overcast, but by the time our hike ended, it was beautiful.

And who says this time of year there’s nothing to see? 

All photos on this outing were taken with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. It is starting to be our camera of choice for hikes!!!

Ice and water. Rocks and trees. Sun and clouds. All for thee.

Moose Hill Farm, Canton

This Sunday morning’s outing—conducted prior to an afternoon of football watching—was at Moose Hill Farm in Canton. Moose Hill Farm is a working farm, but nobody was working there this morning except the chicken man…

At 466 feet high, Moose Hill is the second-highest ascent between Boston and Providence. Only Great Blue Hill, at 635 feet, is taller. Yes, that doesn’t matter to anyone who isn’t from here, and most people who are from here…

Moose? What moose? There are no moose on this map…

Just like our other hikes, this one had no crowds, but offered lots of interesting time-of-year things to see, like these strange-to-us ice formations on the ground.

“Needle Ice…takes the form of strands of ice rising vertical from the surface or near surface of the soil.”

Between the field and the woods we kept seeing ice formations “sprouting” from the ground. We weren’t even sure what was going on until we got back to the office and Googled it (it was too cold a day to do it in situ). Apparently, this ice formation is called “Needle Ice.” It occurs when water flows on the ground, gets wicked up, and freezes in the air.

Hello, us! Nice to see yous/us!

Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, Canton

If you have ever taken exit 2A off Route 128/Route 93 to go, say, south to Stoughton, you will have passed the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate and not even known it. A beautiful, elegant, large home and expansive ground are hidden by the trees and a long(ish) driveway. Seriously, not an iota of an idea that this is there. Right off the exit, literally.

In 1902, Dr. Arthur Tracy Cabot (a well-respected turberculosis expert) had Charles Platt design both his Summer home and its grounds, “a majestic destination with elegant gardens, carriage rides, and all the amenities of turn-of-the-20th-century living in the Neponset River Valley.”

I have to WALK around the estate? There are no horse and carriages? The Cabot-Bradleys are slipping…

The estate was taken over by Cabot’s niece Eleanor Cabot Bradley and her husband after the good doctor’s death, and she kept it more or less intact while adding ponds, a sunken camellia garden, and an art studio alongside the formal gardens.

“It is said that the forest has a certain limit if you look straight ahead, but the sides are boundless.” — Riccardo Bozzi (no, I don’t know who he is either)

I could live here. Easily. Happily. Elegantly.

Ours was the only car in the lot when we were there and we saw no one else during our time there. However, we are pretty sure there will be a line once the Sun goes down for the Reindeer Hunt!

Maybe Rudolph, maybe just Prancer and Comet.

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