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The Blue Hills Reservation

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General Information

Description -
*Information Provided By Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation*
Rising above the horizon, Great Blue Hill reaches a height of 635 feet, the highest of the 22 hills in the Blue Hills chain. From the rocky summit visitors can see over the entire metropolitan area.

The Blue Hills were so named by early European explorers who, while sailing along the coastline, noticed the bluish hue on the slopes when viewed from a distance. More than ten thousand years before those Europeans arrived, Native Americans made their home in the hills. The Natives referred to themselves as Massachusett, or "people of the great hills". Eventually the Europeans began settling in this region. The colonists built houses and barns, cleared fields for crops and livestock and logged the hillsides for lumber.

In 1893, the Metropolitan Parks Commission purchased the lands of Blue Hills Reservation as one of the first areas set aside for public recreation. Today, the reservation is rich in both archaeological and historic resources. Sixteen historic structures listed on the National Register tell the fascinating tales of Native Americans, explorers, farmers, quarry workers and inventors. Additionally the Blue Hills Weather Observatory, a National Historic Landmark, sits atop Great Blue Hill, as a crowning feature.

Attractions - The living treasures of the Blue Hills include flora, fauna and natural phenomena – from coyotes to copperheads, dogwoods to lady's slippers, and turkey vultures to dragonflies. Trails traverse upland and bottomland forests, marsh, swamp and pond edges, meadows and an Atlantic white cedar bog. A great variety of plant and animal life thrive in the diverse habitats, including several rare and endangered species in Massachusetts, such as the timber rattlesnake.

Recreation - The reservation is open dawn to dusk. Swimming only at Houghton's Pond in designated areas. Permits required for groups of 25 or more.
Blue Hills Reservation Headquarters Is located at 695 Hillside St. in Milton, 1/4 mile north of Houghton's Pond, beside the State Police Station. Please stop by or call (617) 698-1802 for park information.
Blue Hills Trailside Museum, Managed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, features cultural and natural history exhibits including a display of live animals of the Blue Hills. For more information, call (617) 333-0690.
Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center Offers weather related educational programs for school groups and weather enthusiasts. The Observatory is located at the summit of Great Blue Hill. Call 617-696-0389 for access information.
Boat on Ponkapoag Pond and on the Neponset River. Non-motorized boats only.
Camp at the Appalachian Mountain Club cabins on Ponkapoag Pond. Call (781) 961-7007 for reservations.
Educational Programs are offered by DCR Rangers on weekends throughout the year. Look for program schedules posted on park bulletin boards or call (617) 698-1802 for program details.
Fish in the reservation's ponds. A state fishing license is required. Houghton's Pond and Pine Tree Brook are stocked with trout.
Golf at the 36-hole DCR Ponkapoag Golf Course located in Canton on Route 138, 1/2 mile south of Route 93. Call (781) 828-4242.
Hike on 125 miles of scenic trails. Purchase a trail map at the Reservation Headquarters or the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Horseback Ride from a number of privately owned stables. For more information, call the Reservation Headquarters at (617) 698-1802.
Ice Skate at an DCR skating rink in the Blue Hills. For the William Shea Rink in Quincy, call (617) 472-9325. For the Max Ulin Rink in Milton, call (617) 696-9869.
Mountain Bike in designated areas of the reservation. Stop by park headquarters to pick up a mountain bike map. Please respect "No Mountain Bicycling" signs in restricted areas.
Picnic tables and charcoal grills are available at Houghton's Pond. Call (617) 698-1802 to reserve a site. Groups of 25 or more must have a permit.
Rock Climb at the Quincy Quarries Historic Site in Quincy and in the Rattlesnake Hill area in the eastern section of the Reservation.
Ski, cross-country on trails throughout the reservation with sufficient snow cover. A free Cross-Country Ski Routes brochure is available at the Reservation Headquarters.
Ski, downhill at the William F. Rogers Ski Slopes on Great Blue Hill. Call (781) 828-5070 for information.
Softball fields are available at Houghton's Pond. Reservations are required, call (617) 698-1802.
Swim at Houghton's Pond beach with DCR lifeguard supervision. Seasonal restrooms provided.

Climate - Boston experiences a continental climate that is very common in New England, but with distinct maritime influences due to its position on the Atlantic Ocean. Summers are typically hot and humid, while winters are cold, windy and snowy.

Location - Located only minutes from the bustle of downtown Boston. By Car: Take Route 93 to Exit 3, Houghton's Pond. Turn right at the stop sign onto Hillside Street. Houghton's Pond is located approximately 1/4 miles on the right; Continue 1/4 miles to the reservation headquarters on the left.

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