Fresh air fanatics welcome winter in a variety of ways and at a multitude of places. Here are a few destinations worth visiting during the snowBy Janice Randall Rohlf
Since moving to the South Shore, outdoors enthusiasts Kristy Albano and Matt Pickering have been pleasantly surprised by the abundance of places nearby that satisfy their yearning for fresh-air activities.
“We really could not believe how many state parks and outdoor reservations are right outside the city,” the couple says on their popular website, TravelTheEast.com. “For us, getting outdoors is always a priority on the weekends—even if it’s just for a few hours—especially after working 40-hour weeks cooped up in an office.” And this means in every season, including winter.
While many people think that another winter like last year’s would be the end of the world, there are those, like Albano and Pickering, who opt to get bundled up and head to an outdoor destination like World’s End in Hingham at the first sign of snow. There are numerous idyllic places to hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski and go sledding on the South Shore. Here are a few of our favorite spots to experience how wonderful winter can be.
Covering 251 acres in Hingham, World’s End is one of more than a hundred special places owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations, a non-profit land conservation and historic preservation organization dedicated to preserving natural and historical places in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. World’s End is a beautiful spot to visit in any season, with winter bringing a special charm to the setting.
“Without the foliage, you can see original views that were crafted by Olmsted,” says Ross Moran, The Trustees engagement manager for the Southeast Region. Famous landscape architect Frederick
Law Olmsted, known for having worked on projects for Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace, among others, created a well-defined landscape to showcase panoramic views of Boston’s harbor and skyline. Trustees South Shore Superintendent Ed Pitcavage and his team are working to bring back these views in all their glory, consulting Olmsted’s original plans and starting with the highest of World’s End’s four hills (the best for sledding), iconic Planter’s Hill. Olmsted-designed carriage paths throughout the property offer opportunities for all ages to enjoy moderate hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Myles Standish State Forest
With 26 square miles sprawling across the southern sections of Plymouth and Carver, Myles Standish State Forest is the largest publicly owned recreation area in southeastern Massachusetts. The state Department of Conservation and Recreation manages the site, which includes 13 miles of hiking trails and 16 ponds. On their website, you can print a map of trails specifically for winter use. For people with disabilities wishing to join friends in cross-country skiing, the DCR’s Universal Access Program offers instruction, a diverse selection of equipment and support as needed.
Whitney Thayer Woods
The 10 miles of carriage roads throughout this Trustees property that stretches between Cohasset and Hingham are suited for all kinds of winter fun. Amble through resurgent hardwood forests to open fields and spectacular vistas of the South Shore and Boston skyline. Walk, sled or cross-country ski down the hill to Weir River Farm and its big red barn, also owned by The Trustees, where families can get up-close to horses, sheep and chickens year round and participate in the annual wreath-raising festivities (see sidebar for event details).
Governor Oliver Ames Estate
Thirty miles outside of Boston in the town of Easton, this historic 36-acre estate—one of The Trustees’ newest properties—features rolling hills, meadows, ponds and a host of lovely, mature trees, all within walking distance of the North Easton National Historic District. The gentle hills are ideal for sledding, while a driveway that bisects the property and leads all the way down to a bridge at the river offers easy opportunities for strolling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. “The driveway is closed to car traffic and is very long and wide and wooded,” says Katie Marshall, public relations specialist for The Trustees.
With two miles of trails on 129 acres, the varied natural environment at this Norwell property features a millpond, stands of white pine and oak, salt marsh and the meandering North River, which was once the center of Colonial-era shipbuilding in New England. For a pleasant winter walk, you can follow one of several loop or out-and-back routes along carriage roads. Reaching the lovely curve in the North River is a reward in itself; currents can be especially dynamic at this stretch of the tidal stream. Ross Moran of The Trustees says Norris Reservation is great for snowshoeing and a good choice for novices of the sport.
Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate
Visitors come to admire this majestic country home’s formal gardens in summer and also for winter walks along three miles of woodland cart paths and trails. Nestled in the town of Canton, it’s a perfect place for snowshoeing and easy cross-country skiing. For an extra special day at this Trustees property, come for a holiday party December 8 and a display of ice sculptures in January (see sidebar for event details). Right down the street Alpine skiers will find pay dirt at Blue Hills Ski Area, which has eight downhill trails served by a double chairlift.
Don’t Miss These Trustee of Reservations Events:
Wreath Raising at Weir River Farm in Hingham
December 6, 4-6 p.m.
Members: Free. Nonmembers: $5. Call 781-740-7233 for more information.
Tired of spending the holiday season in the mall? Bring your family down to Weir River Farm for the perfect way to celebrate the season. Join Trustees staff to make the giant wreath that hangs from our big red barn during the holidays. The kids will love sharing a cup of cocoa, making a festive holiday craft, and watching the finished wreath being hoisted up and illuminated. If there is snow, bring your sled for some extra fun!
Holiday Party at Bradley! at the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton
December 8, 4-6 p.m.
Members: $15. Nonmembers: $25. Call 508-636-4693 x 5011 or email email@example.com for more information
This December, visit the Bradley’s beautifully decorated estate and gardens, tour the grounds and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and holiday cheer with family and friends.
Winter Sunset Walk…
Approaching the Solstice at Norris Reservation in Norwell
Members: $10. Nonmembers: $15. Call 508-636-4693 x5011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Walk, watch the sunset and sip on cocoa at the boat house with winter on its doorstep. Then stroll along the trails that evening with a lantern in hand.
at Governor Hutchinson’s Field in Milton
December 20, 5:30-8 p.m.
Members: $5. Nonmembers: $10, Free for children; Call 617-543-7696 x2121 or email email@example.com for more information.
Come celebrate the winter solstice by lighting up the dark sky. Enjoy a campfire and some treats, and we’ll light the trees at Hutchinson’s Field to be enjoyed throughout the darkest days of the year.
Garden Dreams Winter Sculptures at the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton
January 9, 2016, 1-3 p.m.
Members: $25/family. Nonmembers: $40/family. Call 508-636-4693 x 5011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The gardens will be turned into a winter wonderland of snow and ice sculptures! Local artists will take to the gardens to display their skills around the common theme of Garden Dreams. Refreshments will be served in the house and the sculptures will remain an installation for weeks to come until the spring warmth arrives.
Come Home to Bradley! at the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton
January 14, 21 and 28,
11 a.m. -3 p.m.
Members: Free. Nonmembers: $15. Call 508-636-4693 x5011 or email email@example.com for more information
Stop by the Bradley Estate to read, relax, watch old movies and sip hot cocoa. Bring your sled or skis for outdoor fun in the snow or go on a scavenger hunt (weather permitting). Ages 5 and up.