Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blue Hills (Chickatawbut and Buck Hill)

Hike: Chickatawbut Hill and Buck Hill
Location: Blue Hills Reservation
Nearby Town: Milton, MA
Elevation (Max): 496'
Elevation Gained: 340'
Mileage: 1.5
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (steep ascent of Buck Hill)
Trailhead: Take Exit 6 off I-93, Head N on Granite St, After 1000' Take L on Chickatawbut Rd, Park at the Chickatawbut Overlook, Trailhead heads up hill opposite the view

This is the final unique hike I did in the Blue Hills, so future posts will have significantly more variety. This post features two quick hikes that can be done easily in succession, or you can choose to just do one for a quick jaunt. I drove between the two hikes because it was getting late, but if you have the time and energy, a nice way to enjoy both of these hikes is to follow the Skyline Trail (I outlined the Western Loop here), which connects them.

After enjoying the lovely view of downtown Boston from the overlook, cross the road and head up the trail. You will quickly come upon a firetower, which was closed when E and I did this hike, but there are better views ahead so we didn't lament the lack of firetower views for too long. The trail splits at the tower, keep left (you can go either way actually since it's a loop, but we kept left). Within no time the views of Boston behind you will start opening up. If it's just the views you're after you can turn back here, but we continued along the trail heading into the woods. At intersection 3090, keep right and soon enough you will be back to the firetower and your car.

To get to Buck Hill, which just might be my favorite hill in the Blue Hills, continue driving in the same direction as before (west) and take a left onto Randolph Ave (Rte 28). After about half a mile, you will see the parking area on the right. If my memory is correct, it's just a wide shoulder, but I believe it is marked. If you get to the Interstate, you've gone too far.

Buck Hill is a quick and straight, up and down trail, but the joy of the hike is in the summit. Unlike the other summits in the Blue Hills I've hiked, Buck Hill's summit is almost completely void of trees, and if you exclude saplings, then it is completely void. I'm not aware of an explanation for this characteristic (fire, perhaps?), but it sure makes for fantastic 360 degree views. Furthermore, despite the fact that Buck Hill is 139' shorter than Great Blue Hill (and more than that when you factor in GBH's firetower), the view of Boston seems more impressive. This is probably partly a consequence of the lack of trees, but I think the greater contributor might be the fact that Buck Hill is a bit closer to downtown Boston than GBH. After taking in the views and placing rocks on the cairn on the summit, we began the steep descent back to our car for a trip to, you guessed it, Minerva Indian Cuisine--I got the chicken vindaloo and E got the chicken tikka masala. Below are some photos from the trip.

The view from Chickatawbut Hill

Placing our rocks on Buck Hill's cairn as the sun sets

E and I taking a breather on Buck Hill

The view of Boston from the relatively naked summit of Buck Hill

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