By Jayne Glennon

Two hundred miles have been covered by my Walking Jane shoes over the last twelve months of weekly blogging. All together I could have walked to Portland, Maine, or Hartford, Conn., and back! Not all of it was walking though. For 28 miles I wore snowshoes, 13 miles cross country skis and three were on a bike. Snowshoeing was new to me this year and I loved it -- the perfect winter changeover for walkers. I walk more than I write about. After work, three to four nights a week at the high school track or around nearby neighborhoods with good sidewalks, I clear my head and move my body. Winter is, of course, the toughest season to walk and I did a lot of snowshoeing on local trails just to stretch my legs.

Lake Quannapowitt, a three-mile loop walk, is a favorite go-to just 15 minutes away. About a half mile of the sidewalk straddles busy North Avenue but the rest of the loop hugs the shoreline offering nice views of the busy lake.

Another easily accessible nearby walk is The Minuteman Battle Road Trail, through Concord, Lincoln and Lexington. Eight miles of easy, stone dust trails through farms, fields, woods and American Revolutionary War history make this one of my often-walked trails.

Mine Falls Park in Nashua is a new, not far away, favorite that I didn't know of until this last year. Miles of stone dust and paved paths follow along a shovel/man dug canal that once connected the millpond, Nashua River and downtown Nashua industries. I've been to Mine Falls Park five times already to walk, bike ride and snowshoe.


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It is the most fun, interesting and new walks where I bring my camera and write of my experience. My favorite walk always seems to be the most recent and I'm not sure why. Probably the thrill of exploring new places, seeing something I haven't seen before or a different perspective. Communities surrounding Lowell and stretching throughout New England are rich with outdoor adventure opportunity. Some towns have extensive woodland trail networks such as Carlisle and Andover. Others offer neighborhood trail maps like Reading and Belmont.

Forests, shorelines, mountains and four seasons of New England are awesome but the art, architecture and history are amazing too. Self guided tours have become a favorite of mine. In Providence, I followed the green line of the Independence Trail into the Statehouse where I stumbled into a private tour of the historic building. In Boston, I listened to the story of the Portland Gale, a November storm that took the lives of 192 people traveling on a ferry from Boston to Maine. The Menotomy Minuteman Trail in Arlington introduced me to great works by an important American sculptor, Cyrus Dallin.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge has the most beautiful landscaping and I look forward to returning during a different season, probably for leaf-peeping and on a clear day to take in the awesome views from the Washington Tower. The Arnold Arboretum is another place that I want to see this fall. I can only imagine that the amazing collection of trees put on a brilliant show along the miles of trails in this public park.

World's End is well worth the drive, although probably better to visit on a weekday because of limited parking. I loved this spit land in Hingham Harbor with its miles of leisurely, tree-lined paths designed by Olmstead winding through open fields, all surrounded by water. Back to the North Shore and another Trustees of Reservations -- amazing property-- is the Crane Estate in Ipswich. Walk the Grand Allee, explore the castle, garden ruins, Crane's Beach and visit the wildlife refuge. Several visits will be necessary to walk this beautiful place.

Those are some favorites, although not all, from this last year of walks. Headed to the Berkshires soon. I'll let you know what I find! Happy summer solstice.

From blogs.lowellsun.com/walkingjane/.