Blue Hills Reservation

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Blue Hills Reservation
Massachusetts State Park
Ponkapoag Pond, with Great Blue Hill visible in the background
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Norfolk
Location 695 Hillside St, Milton HQ
 - coordinates 42°12′32.6″N 71°6′8.3″W / 42.209056°N 71.102306°W / 42.209056; -71.102306Coordinates: 42°12′32.6″N 71°6′8.3″W / 42.209056°N 71.102306°W / 42.209056; -71.102306
Highest point
 - elevation 635 ft (194 m)
 - coordinates 42°12′43″N 71°6′51″W / 42.21194°N 71.11417°W / 42.21194; -71.11417
Area 6,195 acres (2,507 ha) [1]
Established 1893
Management Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Nearest city Milton, Massachusetts
Public transit MBTA bus 238, 240
Location in Massachusetts
Website: Blue Hills Reservation

Blue Hills Reservation is a 6,000-acre (2,400 ha) state park in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, south of Boston. Managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, it covers parts of Milton, Quincy, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham.

The park's varied terrain and scenic views, in combination with its proximity to Boston, make it a popular destination for hikers from the metropolitan area. Located approximately ten miles from downtown, the reservation is one of the largest parcels of undeveloped conservation land within the Boston metropolitan area.[2]


Blueish rocks in the Blue Hills.

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.[2] The blueish color comes from the presence of riebeckite in the stone.[3]

The name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts derives from the Native Americans who resided in the hills and who referred to themselves as Massachusett, or "people of the great hills."[2] In 1893, the Metropolitan Parks Commission purchased the lands of Blue Hills Reservation as one of the state's first areas dedicated to public recreation.

Flora and fauna[edit]

The ecology of the Blue Hills is diverse and includes marshes, swamps, upland and bottomland forests, meadows, and an Atlantic white cedar bog. A number of endangered species in Massachusetts, such as the timber rattlesnake, reside in the reservation. Other flora and fauna include dogwood, lady's slipper, white-tailed deer, coyotes, wild turkey, red fox, turkey vultures, and copperheads.[2]

Points of interest[edit]

The highest point within the reservation, Great Blue Hill in Milton, is the site of the historic Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory. The observatory was founded in 1885 and is the oldest continuous weather recording station in the United States.[4] Its tower offers views of Boston and the surrounding area. Both tower and observatory are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

National Register of Historic Places listings[edit]

Nature museum[edit]

The Blue Hills Trailside Museum, which is affiliated with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, offers indoor and outdoor animal exhibits.[5]

Activities and amenities[edit]

Blue Hills Reservation is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking. It is also used for snowshoeing, downhill skiing, and cross country skiing during winter, and rock climbing (in certain areas) and horseback riding during permissible months.

Between approximately December and March, Great Blue Hill offers a ski area. Houghton's Pond and nearby Ponkapoag Pond are popular swimming and recreation areas during the summer.

Ponkapoag Bog Boardwalk

Other recreational opportunities include non-motorized boating, camping, fishing, picnicking, playing fields, ice skating, and interpretive programs.


  1. ^ "2012 Acreage Listing" (PDF). Department of Conservation and Recreation. April 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Blue Hills Reservation". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  3. ^ Les Tyrala. "The Hard Truth: The Geology of the Blue Hills" (PDF). Friends of the Blue Hills. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  4. ^ "History". Blue Hill Observatory. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Blue Hills Trailside Museum". MassAudubon. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 

External links[edit]