Boston Common, bounded by Beacon, Charles, Boylston, Tremont and Park streets, is the oldest public park in the country, created in 1634 as a “cow pasture and training field” for common use. Cattle grazed here for 200 years, and could look up every now and then to see the occasional public hanging that took place in the Common.
The park is about 50 acres in size and is the anchor for the Emerald Necklace, a
system of connected parks that visit many of Boston’s neighborhoods. Dogs are
welcome on Boston Common and can even run off-leash from 5-7 a.m. and 5-7
Nearby, 15 minutes to the south of Boston, is the dog-friendly Blue Hills
Reservation. The first settlers came to this area 10,000 years ago and called
themselves “Massachusett,” meaning “people of the hills.” When European
explorers set sight on the forested slopes while sailing along the coastline they
named the region the Blue Hills.
They logged the hillsides to build hoses and barns and cleared the lowlands for
crops and livestock. In 1893, the Metropolitan Parks Commission made the Blue
Hills one of their first purchases for land set aside for recreation. Today, Blue Hills
Reservation maintains 7,000 acres of land where you can hike with your dog in the
shadow of Boston.
Some 125 miles of trails visit a variety of terrain from hills and meadows to forests
and wetlands, including a unique Atlantic white cedar bog. Some of the canine
hiking can be quite challenging and many of the trails are strewn with rocks. Great
Blue Hill, rising 635 feet above the Neponsett Valley, is the highest of the 22 hills
in the Blue Hills chain.
Keep your head up for sweeping views of the metropolitan area. Also keep an eye
out for the diverse wildlife in the Blue Hills Reservation that is not often associated
with Boston – timber rattlesnakes, coyote and otters. Most of the trails are marked
but a trail map is a wise purchase for day hikes – one is on sale at park
headquarters (695 Hillside Street) or the Blue Hills Trailside Museum (1904 Canton
The National Register of Historic Places lists 16 structures from Blue Hills
Reservation. The most celebrated sits at the summit of Great Blue Hill – the Blue Hill
Weather Observatory. Still used as a weather station, the observatory is in Eliot
Tower, a stone observation post built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the
The Blue Hills Reservation is headquartered in Milton, 8 miles south of Boston. 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.