Pleasant places to walk in Cambridge/Somerville and points west
August 9, 2014 8:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm a recent Camberville transplant from a place that was more in the "trees that happen to have nearby houses" department rather than the "houses that happen to have nearby trees" department. I'm looking for pleasant places for, say, 3-10 mile rambles where I can forget for a bit that I am not cut out for city life. A few additional constraints within.

For the purposes of this question, you can assume I live at the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library. I'm ok with a certain amount of repetitiveness (completely happy to orbit a 1 mile loop a bunch of times, for instance).

I am willing to walk (heh) or bus to nice walking places. I am also potentially cool with driving somewhere, but don't currently have a parking permit (I could get a Somerville one). I cannot ride the T.
posted by dorque to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
There are several nice parks in Arlington and Belmont where you can go for quite nice walks.

Fresh Pond

Arlington Reservoir

Menotomy Rocks Park

Menotomy Rocks is particularly fun because it's second-growth. That area used to be farm land, and when you're walking around in it, occasionally you come upon an old stone wall.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:44 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Mount Auburn cemetery.
posted by brujita at 8:47 PM on August 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't know if you're willing to use the commuter rail, or if that is even an option for you (given that you have ruled out the T), but the walk from the Ipswich commuter rail station out to Crane Beach and back is a tiny bit over 10 miles total (10.2, I believe). Similarly, from the Newburyport commuter rail station it is possible to walk out to Plum Island, for an ~10 mile round trip walk. Both of these are exceptionally beautiful routes.
posted by amelioration at 8:47 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

The path along the Charles River that is parallel to Memorial Drive might still have too much of a "city" vibe, but it continues into Waltham/Watertown where it becomes a lot quieter. I really enjoy walking/riding my bike along the path starting at Watertown Square and then heading towards Cambridge. You can do a 3 mile loop if you cut across the river on the bridge at North Beacon Street, or you can do a 5 mile or so loop if you cross over along Arsenal Street.

I haven't been there myself, but I've heard really good things about the Arnold Arboretum in JP. I'll also second the recommendations for Mt. Auburn and Fresh Pond.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:18 PM on August 9, 2014

Seconding Mount Auburn Cemetery. It was my go-to ramble when I lived near where you live.
posted by jaguar at 9:46 PM on August 9, 2014

Middlesex Fells in Medford and Breakheart Reservation in Wakefield.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:01 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Middlesex Fells also seems to be second-growth. There's an overpass covered with vegetation in the middle of it.

The bike path is not anywhere close to a true forest, but it's woody and very nearby. You can potentially follow it past Alewife Station all the way to Bedford.
posted by ignignokt at 5:26 AM on August 10, 2014

Picking up on ignignokt's comment, from the Minuteman bike path in Lexington, it's less than a mile to the beginning of the Minuteman National Park, a beautiful linear park that extends out from Lexington through Lincoln and into Concord. All very bike friendly.
posted by Crankatator at 5:45 AM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lynn Woods, in Lynn. Also nearby Nahant (Long Beach). 2nding Breakheart Reservation in Saugus, , and Middlesex Fells Reservation, Medford.
posted by Gungho at 6:01 AM on August 10, 2014

Best answer: I trained for a 60-mile benefit walk some years ago and ramped up to 10-mile walks from JP. I now live in Cambridge and would recommend something like this route from CPL via Mem Drive, the Emerald Necklace, the J-Way (Jamaica Way), skirting into Brookline via some lovely neighborhoods and terrain to the Allandale Woods (86 acres), then into the Arboretum (265 acres), then to Forest Hills Cemetery (260 acres). The Allandale Woods, Arboretum, and Forest Hills Cemetery each offer paths to explore for even more time in the woods.

Heading north, I’d also recommend Middlesex Fells. Here’s my version of a pleasant 6mi walk to the Fells and lots of woods to explore once there.

As someone who has walked and lived in the area for a loooooong time, I would encourage you—already a walker and ambivalent about city life—to walk to the woodsier places. It really helps you orient and begin to feel like the city is not something foreign, or to be escaped from. It brings it right down to size. It will pull together in your mind the very disparate neighborhoods and give you a sense of place that you really cannot get any other way (well, ‘cept maybe by bicycle). Enjoy the walks. Propose a meetup!
posted by cocoagirl at 6:12 AM on August 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Mystic River Reservation.
posted by redlines at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2014

These might be too far away for what you are looking for, as all of them require driving out of the city, but when I want to get my nature fix I'll go to a property of the Trustees of Reservations or Mass Audubon. Plenty of trees, fresh air, and limited traffic sounds! You will probably see a deer or two.
posted by stripesandplaid at 7:42 PM on August 10, 2014

From Belmont Center (end of the #74/75 bus from Harvard), you can walk up Belmont Hill to the Western Greenway. Lots of trees, and miles to ramble, while still pretty close to Cambridge.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 12:50 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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