Cutler Park Reservation (Needham, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 2, 2019

Location: 84 Kendrick St., Needham, MA

Hours: open daily dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for about 50 cars in the main lot and parking may be available at nearby lots.

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Park size/trail difficulty: 600 acres, easy to slightly moderate

Highlights: wildlife, hiking, pond, kayaking, cycling and running trails

Summary: This 600-acre park protects the largest freshwater marsh on the middle Charles River. This park is a great spot for birdwatchers, and it also features eskers, or riverbeds formed inside a glacier; drumlins, long hills formed by glaciers; and Kendrick pond.

Website: Cutler Park Reservation

Hiking Trails Map: Cutler Park Reservation Trail Map

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Named for the State legislator, Leslie B. Cutler, who helped the Department of Conservation and Recreation of Massachusetts acquire the land, Cutler Park has some hidden historical significance many visitors may not be aware of.

Soil was removed from what is now known as Kendrick Pond to fill in the area now known as the Back Bay of Boston.  And, if you look closely near the Kendrick St entrance of the park you can still see some of the old tracks of the railroad that was used to transport the soil to Boston.

Although I’m not sure, this tunnel may have been used to transport some of the soil, rocks or logs from the park.  But, now it is used to support the railroad that runs adjacent to the park.

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Mist was settling upon Kenrick Pond as I arrived at the park.  It created the perfect backdrop for photos of the landscape and swans at Kendrick Pond (aka Cutler Pond).

Cutler Park has a diverse assortment of wildlife and birds.  Although I did not see them during my visit, deer and fox are said to be present there. I did see a few other critters, though.

It was spring during my visit so there were a lot of babies at the park.  I got to see some goslings and cygnets with their parents.

You’ll hear a variety of birds tweeting (offline).

 

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or getting a quick bite

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or just chilling in the abundant trees at Cutler Park.

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The trails at Cutler Park are mainly easy with a few slight inclines.  The signature part of the trails is the boardwalk along the marshy area.

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But, there’s something about the tree lined dirt paths that gives the park a “country” feel despite the fact it is located deep within the suburbs.

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Cutler Park is popular with kayakers, runners, cyclists and people in some unusual water vessels.

What truly makes the park a hidden jewel are the beautiful views.

The wide paths and pond make Cutler Park a dog friendly park.

The way Casey, a 10 year old Yellow Lab, fetched could give any of  the Sox outfielders a run for their money.

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Say goodbye to Teddy, a one and a half year old Golden Doodle mix, from Cutler Park!

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Hidden History – Moswetuset Hummock (Quincy, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 39, 2019

Location: Moswetuset Hummock, 440 East Squantum St, Quincy, MA

Hours: open daily, dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: Free parking is available for about a dozen vehicles:

Universally Accessible: Because of the dirt and rocky surface and a few slight inclines it is not universally accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: views of Quincy and the surrounding area, short trail, historic importance

Summary: A small, often overlooked park in Quincy, MA, has a special historical significance to Massachusetts

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Sometimes hidden history is in the wide open.  Such is the case with the small park located along the Wollaston Beach and Quincy Bay area.

The .4 mile loop (yes it is a very short trail) is easy.  Along the short trail you’ll see pretty views of the neighboring Wollaston Beach and Squantum (another name with a historical connection to the area).

While the trail at Moswetuset is short and easy, if you walk down the somewhat steep side of the trail, you can get some pretty views of Boston and the Quincy area.  These photos were taken from the rocky area off the main trail during twilight in March.

Moswetuset, which means “shaped like an arrowhead”, is often overlooked for the more popular Wollaston Beach which is located around the corner from Moswetuset.  Yet, the fact that it is overlooked gives it a special charm.   It also has an interesting historical background.

Moswetuset is said to have been the seat of the ruling Massachusetts Chief Chickatawbut.  It is also the place where Plymouth colony commander Myles Standish and his guide Tisquantum (Squanto) met with Chief Chicktawbut in 1621.

Named after the native tribe of Moswetuset, the name of this area would later become known as Massachusetts.

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As the sign below states, Chief Chickawawbut agreed to a treaty with then Governor Winthrop which neither side broke.  And, of course, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street which you may see in the background.  It is Massachusetts after all.

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From Wollaston Beach the area looks simply like a wooded area without much to see.

Yet, hidden within that cluster of trees lies a true hidden treasure with a hidden history.

 

Bare Cove Park (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Drive, Hingham, MA

Cost: Free

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are 2 parking lots.  The larger parking lot located at Bare Cove Drive has room for about 100 cars.  There is also a smaller parking lot off Beal St

Trail Size/Difficulty: 484 acres, easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, there are paved trails but the side trails may not be accessible to all

Dog Friendly: Yes (see website for rules for taking dogs to the park)

Highlights: wildlife, birds, nature, lake, easy trails, cycling, running, scenic, museum

Website: Bare Cove Park

Map of Park: Bare Cove Park Map

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Once the site of a ammunition depot, Bare Cove Park is now a 484 acre park full of wildlife, scenic views and trails for running, cycling or just walking.

There is a variety of birds and other wildlife at the park.  Foxes, coyotes and even deer have been reportedly seen at the park.  So, do keep this in mind if you do bring your dog.  I didn’t see any aforementioned animals at the park.  But, I did see a diverse group of birds there.

Granted, I did have to go off the beaten paths to view some of these birds, particularly the hawks and kestrel.  But, you should see lots of cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and other smaller birds in your travels, even on the main trails.

The main trails are paved and wise in most parts.  So there is lots of room for cyclists, runners and people walking with their dogs.

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One of the many great things about Bare Cove is that it is beautiful all year.  You might think that it wouldn’t be very pretty during the early spring time.  You’d be wrong!  But, seriously, the natural colors and the trees are majestic.  Even the multi colored ones. Alt If you are looking to see plants and flowers and other colorful views I do recommend visiting in the mid to late spring, summer or, of course, fall.

One of the hidden historical aspects of the park is its military past.  The area was used to produce and distribute munitions and other military devices. Until 1971, military goods were produced here.

In an effort to commemorate the service of the people who worked at these depots, there is a small museum with exhibits, photos, military tools and other gadgets that were made at the depot.

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There is also a viewing area to watch videos and DVDs about the history of the depot and how Weymouth and Hingham, MA contributed to the war effort.

There are two monuments outside of the museum.

One of the monuments is dedicated to all of the workers who helped the war efforts.

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The next memorial is dedicated to the workers who lost their lives when a ship they were unloading, the USS FY 415, exploded and sank on May 11, 1944, when signal rockets caught fire.

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Another interesting part of the area near the museum is that the posts which the bots tied onto when they originally unloaded their munitions at the depot are located in front of the museum.

There is also a fire museum nearby.  During my visit, a fire truck from the museum was on display at the park.

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But, the hidden history doesn’t end there.  A sign posted on Bare Cove Path indicates that an Almshouse (called “Town Farm”) used to be there.

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In short, almshouses were a place for the indigent or those who could not care for themselves.  To find out more about Almshouse, you can refer to my previous blog post about Almshouses.

With its winding trails and access to water, Bare Cove Park is a great place to take your dog.

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Kevin, a 2 year old Boston Terrier, posed for me during his walk around the park.

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Cooper, a 9 year old Golden Retriever, played fetch in the water during his visit.

 

Winter Island (Salem, MA)

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Date Of Visit: February 2, 2019

Location: 50 Winter Island Rd, Salem, MA

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a parking area for about 20 to 30 cars at the park as well as street parking for about 2 dozen cars on Derby St before you arrive at Winter Island Rd

Handicapped Accessible: Yes.  However, some trails may be too steep

Dog Friendly: Yes

Size: 45 acres

Highlights: lighthouse, scenic views, military historical attraction, beach, easy trails, boat storage and launch areas, camping sites

Summary: Once the site of a fish drying and ship building location by the early settlers, Winter Island is now a haven for beach goers and boating enthusiasts.  Winter Island has easy trails with scenic views.  The most popular highlight of the park is Pickering Light which is located along the rocky shore.

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Ask anyone about Salem, MA, and you’re sure to hear about the House Of The Seven Gables, the Salem Witch Museum or one of the other historical museums, homes and shops that dot the city.  But, the best part of Salem may be miles (or more precisely a mile and a half) away from the historic downtown area.

Winter Island has a rich history as a shipbuilding area (a facility is still located there for this purpose) and as a defensive point for colonial and American forces during Queen Anne’s War and the American Revolutionary War.  It would continue to act in this capacity throughout the 19th century.  The area is also used to dry dock boats in the off season.  The area is used for people to camp in the RVs in the warmer seasons.  So the land is used year round.

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The lighthouse at Winter Island, Fort Pickering Light (aka Winter Island Light), was built to warn and protect sailors from the rocky coast.  Built in 1871, Pickering Light stands 28 feet above sea level,  It is built of iron lined with brick.  There used to be a bridge that connected the lighthouse to land.  I wish they had that there now!  Instead I had to walk down some rocks to get some photos up close.  The rocks can be slippery, especially this time of the year as it can be icy on the colder days.

There are also some military fortifications on display at the park.

From left to top left to bottom, Winter Island is a bunker installation and some markers in memory of those who were lost during war or other conflicts.

There is also a short trail that loops around park and offers some pretty views of the harbor.  Like most places, the best times to visit are during sunrise or sunset (or just before each time of day).  But, it is especially true here.  The orange, gold and blues help to accentuate the beauty of the park.  I spent quite a while at the park to ensure I could capture a few shots just before sunrise.  You gotta love those “golden hours.”

Don’t let the warm colors of the sunset fool you.  What looks like chunks of ice in these photos is actually ice on top of the lobster traps in the water.

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There are lots of ducks, seagulls and other birds at Winter Island.

There also seems to be a lot of reconstruction at the park.  This building looked like it was being gutted and perhaps renovated for future use.

A hidden gen within this hidden gem is Waikiki Beach.  The first sign you’ll see after you arrive at the entrance to the park is probably going to be the sign to Waikiki Beach.  While it may not compare to the beach in Hawaii that shares its name, it is a second close.

In the colder seasons you may find people skating or practicing hockey on the pond.

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The beach is usually packed with sun seekers and beach lovers during the warmer months, it is also a popular place for people to go and play with your dogs during the winter months.

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Rigby is a 5 year old mixed breed dog. His mom told me he had fun playing with Oliver at Waikiki Beach.  I have photographed Oliver in the past.  As his Instagram profile states he is a “good boy.”  You can find him here on Instagram or at oliverbestdog.

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Similar places I have visited:
(Hidden) Things to do in the area: