By Jayne Glennon
The Arnold Arboretum is a 281-acre public park crisscrossed by several miles of trails and roads (no cars allowed), cutting through a collection of native and foreign trees, bushes, plants and vines maintained through a cooperative effort between Harvard University and the City of Boston. This museum of trees is a large segment of Boston's Emerald Necklace designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
I parked roadside, entered the Arboretum through the Bussey Street Gate and proceeded through the park towards the visitor center along Hemlock Hill Road, surrounded by evergreens and Mountain Laurels. Before long, at a large intersection I picked up Beech Path where the trees were just beginning to show spring growth. Cherry and Dogwoods were in bloom and snowing petals around three small ponds at the end of Beech Path. Along Meadow Road to the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center I couldn't resist touching the deep ridged bark of Japanese and Chinese Cork trees. In the visitor center, a scale model of the park was helpful for navigation and a library of botanical information available. Check the website for guided tours and self-guided tours of the arboretum and to see what is currently highlighted. Hundreds of trees are labeled throughout the arboretum.
Back on Meadow Road, I cut through the Horesechestnuts to lilac-lined Bussey Hill Road. A detour into the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden also led to the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection. From there a long gradual climb to the top of Bussey Hill ended at an overlook of the park and surrounding city. I retraced my steps downhill through Oaks, Walnuts and Hickories to Valley Road then picked up Conifer Path through Spruces, Firs and Pines.
Across Bussey Street is Peter's Hill Gate and Peter's Hill Road loop. At the peak, people sat in the sun reading and lazily tossing balls for dogs with a grand panorama of Boston before them. Twisty crabapple trees covered one side of Peter's Hill and appeared to be a week or two from flowering. The Arboretum is a popular place for walking with an unusually diverse and educational landscape that surely offers significant change with each season. It is accessible by the MBTA -- Orange line.
Arnold Arboretum walk
- Date: May 2, 2014
- Distance: Map my run says 7 miles, but there is no way I walked that far. My phone/gps was swinging back and forth in my jacket pocket tied around my waist so I think it recorded more than double!! There appears to be a total of about 3- 4 miles of trails in the park.
- Weather: partly cloudy, 60 degrees
- Fee: None
- Pets: I saw some dogs on Peter's Hill but nowhere else, check website.
- What I liked about this walk: trees of all kinds, flowers, visitor center, views, some hills for extra exercise, no traffic -- only maintenance vehicles allowed.
- What I didn't like about this walk: