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10 of the Best Hikes in and Around Boston

Enjoy the beauty of rural New England with this selection of the best hikes near Boston, Massachusetts.

Autumn at World's End in Boston
Hi, I'm Liam!

Liam Greenwell is a writer and teacher based in Mexico City. He is originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can read more of his work at liamgreenwell.com and find him on Twitter @liam_greenwell.

Home to the Emerald Necklace, Boston is a prime base for year-round outdoor adventures—from winter snowshoeing to summer jogs along the Charles River. Add to that, the city’s surrounding area is especially perfect for hiking enthusiasts as it’s close to many densely wooded forests, challenging mountain climbs, and scenic vistas. From walks through surprisingly remote nature reserves just a short distance from Boston to monumental miles of trail a few hours away, here are 10 of the best hikes near Boston.

1. Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge

The Mount Auburn Cemetery at the beginning of autumn.
The cemetery tops the list of great hikes near Boston, especially at the beginning of fall.Photo credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

4 miles (7 kilometers) from Boston

It might seem strange to go for an urban hike in a cemetery, but there’s nothing morbid about this green space that sits along the border of Cambridge and Watertown. Take a stroll down paths that bring you past a sphinx, along hidden ponds, and up the central hill where Washington Tower overlooks downtown Boston.

Keep in mind that running and dogs aren’t allowed at Mount Auburn Cemetery out of respect for the generations of New Englanders buried here (which include the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, and the abolitionist Charles Sumner). Afterward, explore Harvard Square (just a few minutes away by public transit) while indulging your sweet tooth on a chocolate tour.

2. Skyline Trail, Middlesex Fells

The Skyline Trail outside Boston is worth it.
The Skyline Trail is a favorite hike for outdoor enthusiasts close to Boston.Photo credit: Micha Weber / Shutterstock

6 miles (10 kilometers) from Boston

The Skyline Trail is a 7-mile (11-kilometer) hiking trail that encircles the entire western half of the Middlesex Fells Reservation just north of Boston. Walk through open fields, cross wooded glens, and scramble up rocky hills to enjoy excellent views of downtown Boston. The reservation, also a popular spot for trail running, is open to dogs. Plus, the evocatively named Panther Cave is a short detour, as is Bellevue Pond, where you can spot local kids playing ice hockey in the winter.

3. World’s End, Hingham

World's End outside Boston is wild and beautiful.
World's End is a wild and beautiful Boston hike.Photo credit: Michael Sean OLeary / Shutterstock

12 miles (19 kilometers) from Boston

This aptly-named reservation on the tip of land jutting into Boston Harbor, called World’s End, has narrowly avoided being transformed into a housing development, a nuclear energy plant, and even the headquarters of the United Nations.

Thankfully, this means that you can still happily ramble along 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) of hiking trails, all with magnificent views of the Boston skyline and the Harbor Islands, and get to know the area’s serene, wild beaches. Get more of Massachusetts’s iconic ocean—it’s the Bay State, after all—on a whale-watching catamaran tour.

4. Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield and Wenham

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary outside Boston.
For birdwatching, this is one of the best hikes near Boston.Photo credit: KFVI / Shutterstock

20 miles (32 kilometers) from Boston

Channel your inner Henry David Thoreau at Mass Audubon’s nature reserve nature reserve north of Boston. With 12 miles of trails (19 kilometers) and a marsh landscape filled with countless bird species and other animals, the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is ideal for campers and canoeists. Launch your boat in the Ipswich River and paddle over to Perkins Island, where, on Saturdays, you can rent a campsite that feels decidedly remote. Afterward, don’t miss a trip to nearby Salem to learn the history of the witch trials before returning to Boston on a high-speed ferry.

5. Dune Shacks Trail, Provincetown

Dune Shacks Trail in Provincetown.
Sandy shores worth the explore.Photo credit: jarrodpimentals / Shutterstock

48 miles (78 kilometers) from Boston

The people who have occupied the remote Dune Shacks for decades (built out of the wreckage of ships that crashed near Cape Cod) know the meaning of living off the grid. Though it’s located in Provincetown, home to countless summer revelers and known as an international gay mecca, this far-flung hidden gem of a hiking trail and accompanying beaches feel far away from the rest of the world.

Park on the side of Route 6 and hike just over a mile toward the ocean before weaving your way in between the shacks. Poets, hermits, and travelers have all lived in these shacks; some still do. The farther you get from the trailhead, the fewer people you’ll encounter on this unique journey.

6. Cliff Walk, Newport

Newport on the ocean.
Newport, located on the ocean, is one of the best day hikes near Boston.Photo credit: KYPhua / Shutterstock

62 miles (100 kilometers) from Boston

Newport, home to some of the wealthiest families of the Gilded Age, remains a summer playground of the rich and famous. Although most people will never live in huge, historic mansions like The Breakers, anyone can enjoy the peaceful Cliff Walk that brings vacationers along 3.5 miles (5.5 kilometers) of paved hiking trail right on the ocean’s edge. The walk is free and open to the public, offering stunning ocean views of Newport's eastern shore and beyond.

Related: Historic Mansions of Newport

7. Mt. Greylock, the Berkshires

Green Mt. Greylock.
Green Mt. Greylock is one of the most popular hiking trail destinations near Boston.Photo credit: Paul Sparks / Shutterstock

110 miles (176 kilometers) from Boston

The tallest summit in Massachusetts, Mt. Greylock is located on the Appalachian Trail and has commanding views of the rest of the Berkshires. No wonder it often tops the list of the best mountain hikes near Boston. You can see five states from the summit (Vermont, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and of course, Massachusetts). Plus, during the summer, you can even stay on the very top of the peak at the rustic Bascom Lodge. After your hike, spend some time in the bohemian town of North Adams, where Mass MOCA, a former paper factory turned museum, features pioneering works of contemporary art.

8. The Long Trail, Vermont

The Long Trail outside Boston on a sunny day.
The Long Trail on a sunny day.Photo credit: Jonathan D. Wahl / Shutterstock

111 miles (178 kilometers) from Boston

One of the best hikes close to Boston is the 272-mile (438-kilometer)Long Trail hike in Vermont that served as the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail. Hikers can choose to traverse any of its awe-inspiring sections without committing to doing the multi-week hike in one go. From Boston, take in highlights from the southern section, including Glastonbury and Stratton Mountains, before making your way back to civilization for a craft beer at the Long Trail Brewing Company in Bridgewater.

9. Pemigewasset Loop, White Mountain National Forest

The Loop outside Boston is dreamy in summer.
The Loop is dreamy in summer.Photo credit: JHuangLabs / Shutterstock

121 miles (195 kilometers) from Boston

Known as one of the most challenging hiking destinations in the United States, Pemigewasset Loop features 31 miles (50 kilometers) of punishing terrain. The good news is that it’s easy to break up the hike into two or three days, covering nine different peaks in a reasonable time frame—as long as you bring a tent and sleeping bag. Whichever option you choose, those who complete the loop will enjoy some of the best views in New England, all in an extremely remote landscape. For those who want the views without the hike? They can drive the route instead.

Bish Bash Falls, Taconic Mountains

10. Bish Bash Falls in winter in MA.
The roaring cascade of Bish Bash Falls in winter.Photo credit: Structured Vision / Shutterstock

125 miles (202 kilometers) from Boston

The farthest corner of Massachusetts is home to the state’s highest waterfall, Bish Bash Falls, framed by a dramatic boulder that hovers 80 feet (24 meters) above an inviting swimming pool, making it one of the most refreshing hikes near Boston.

Go for a swim after the short hike, which starts near the parking lot. Or, if you prefer to stay dry, hike up Monument Mountain instead, a favorite walk of writers such as Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Either way, end your visit to the Berkshires with a drive into the cozy town of Great Barrington to pop into art galleries and have lunch.

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