Hike: Noanet Peak
Location: Noanet Woodlands
Nearby Town: Dover, MA
Elevation (Max): 387'
Elevation Gained: 220'
Trailhead: Take Exit 16B off I-95, Head W on High St (Rte 109), R on Summer St, Slight L on Westfield St, Slight L on Dedham St, Park in Caryl Park on the L, Trailhead is at the back of the open field on the left.
The Noanet Woodlands is one of the many natural areas in Massachusetts maintained and protected by The Trustees of Reservations, a large private group of citizens dedicated to a worthy cause. Noanet is a 595 acre park with 17 miles of trails. This hike is a pretty quick out and back to Noanet Peak, which, at 387', would not be very notable if not for its impressive views of the Boston skyline 13 miles away. E and I did this hike in winter with a significant snow cover on the ground which made the hike much more difficult than it would be in warmer weather. If cross-country skiing is your thing, though, we saw several ski tracks in the snow so it appears many people take advantage of Noanet's trails for some winter recreation. The presence of cross-country skiers should provide some indication of how flat most of the trails are in the park. It's not until the final approach to Noanet Peak that the trail steepens (and becomes extremely difficult in a two steps forward one step backward kind of way when hiking in snow).
Our route for this hike was quite simple. We took the Caryl Trail, which brings you most of the way to Noanet Peak. Noanet Woodlands uses a numbered trail junction system so to get to the Peak you want to follow Caryl Trail (yellow blazed) until you get to junction 6 at which point the Caryl Trail turns right. To reach the peak, continue straight ahead. The peak provides nice views to the east including Boston in the distance to the northeast. E and I tried to squeeze this hike in after classes on a winter day which meant we began to run out of daylight so the Boston skyline was difficult to distinguish, but the hike was certainly still worth it. I am very fond of hiking through the snow despite how difficult it was to gain traction near the peak. It is much more scenic to hike and a nice thick snow cover eliminates the need to worry about rocks and roots tripping you up. When you've had your fill of the view, return the way you came. Below are some photos from our hike. Please forgive the poor quality; the light was low, we had a Gorillapod mishap involving my camera plunging lens first into the snow, and my hands were cold. Excuses, excuses.
Boston just barely visible
E fashioned her scarf into a lovely headdress to keep her ears warm
A couple shot featuring a smudge from the camera's snow encounter