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Great Blue Hill
July 7, 2004

Route: Skyline Trail
Map: bluehill map.jpg (129333 bytes)


635 ft

Vertical Climb:

420 ft


1.8 miles

Who Went:

Paul (solo)

I usually go to Great Blue Hill four or five times a year. It's about a half-hour drive from where I work, so if I can manage to take a long lunch and I'm not stuck running other errands, I drive down there.

There's a whole network of trails in the Blue Hills Reservation, but I usually go up the Skyline Trail from Rt 138 to the summit of Great Blue Hill. Then, if I have time, I continue on the Skyline Trail to to Wolcott and Hemenway Hills, and occasionally to Hancock Hill. It's not a bad climb; for example, a round trip from Rt 138 to Hemenway Hill is over 1100 ft elevation gain. On this trip, partially because of the extra time required to take pictures, I chose to just go up to Great Blue Hill and back again.

There's a parking lot almost directly across the street from the Skyline Trailhead which serves both as trail parking and a commuter rideshare lot. However, there's usually also a few cars parked there with guys just sitting in them, even in the middle of the day, and I get the feeling that something illegal may take place there. I just park and then quickly cross the street to the trail. I've never seen non-hikers cross over to that side of the street, and I've never been bothered. However, down the street a short distance, the Blue Hills Nature Center also has parking, which is frequented by families and picnickers. The more heavily-used Red Dot Trail climbs up Great Blue Hill from this lot.

The Skyline Trail which begins to ascend the southwest side of Great Blue Hill at a moderate incline up a rock-strewn, and often wet cut in the hillside. A short distance up, it crosses the level Accord Path, after which it gets steeper and rockier. The terrain alternates between woods and open granite ledges. At each successive ledge, the views to the southwest of the rolling eastern Massachusetts hills (and the busy freeway known as Rt 128 which forms a large semi-circle around greater Boston) get better and better. Of course, it's nothing like the White Mountains, but you can see for quite a distance on a clear day.

In the spring and summer, the mixed pine and hardwood forest along the trail is filled with wildflowers such as Spring Beauties, Lady Slippers, Ox-Eye Daisies, and Wild Indigo.

Just before the trail reaches the large summit plateau, it crosses one last area of potholed ledges, where I've often seen people enjoying the views while picnicking on the rocks. It then descends slightly to join the Eliot Circle Trail near the Blue Hills Observatory.

Trailhead. The trail begins across the street from the parking lot and begins to ascend the southwest side of Great Blue Hill at a moderate incline.

skyline 1.jpg (113075 bytes)

Skyline Trail. After crossing the relatively level Accord Path, the Skyline Trail grows steeper and rockier.

skyline 2.jpg (113877 bytes)

Wild Indigo. These flowers were growing among the rocks along the lower portion of the Skyline Trail.

butter and eggs.jpg (106509 bytes)

Ledge along the Skyline Trail. There are several spots along this portion of the trail where it breaks into the open onto smooth granite ledges.

skyline 3.jpg (113150 bytes)

Getting higher. Between the sets of open ledges, the trail enters the woods as a narrow rocky path. 

skyline 4.jpg (97286 bytes)

Looking southwest. Rt 128 and the rolling hills of eastern Massachusetts dominate the views in this direction.

skyline view 1.jpg (91844 bytes)

Upper ledges. Just before the Skyline Trail reaches the summit plateau, it crosses these potholed ledges.

skyline view 2.jpg (90201 bytes)

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