When a friend invited me to explore Walden Pond one day, my first question was "Can my dog come?" As it turns out, dogs aren't allowed there, but there are plenty of other fabulous dog-friendly daytrip destinations to choose from in our area.
Recently, as I browsed through the collection of new and used books at The Book Rack on Medford Street in Arlington, I stumbled upon "The Dog Lover's Companion to Boston: the Inside Scoop on Where to Take Your Dog."
This book is a treasure trove of information for local dog lovers. For each of the towns or areas it lists, it lays out suggestions for parks, beaches and recreation areas as well as restaurants and places to stay, and it gives each of these a rating. A fire hydrant symbol indicates a destination might only be worth a canine potty break. Just a step above that is a one paw rating. However, a locale with a four paw rating is definitely worth the time and effort for a doggy day trip.
A footprint symbol indicates that the destination "offers something extra special" for the humans in the pack, too. A running dog symbol means that dogs are allowed to exercise off leash. I'd advise double checking that last point prior to your visit, though, since off-leash rules may have been modified since the guide's publication.
Here are a few of the listings that I plan to check out with my own dog.
- World's End Reservation covers 250 acres over two islands connected by a sandbar, and overlooks Hingham Harbor as well as the Boston Harbor Islands. You and your dog can roam across grass covered hills, shaded carriage roads and miles of trails. Rated four paws and a footprint. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer. (781) 749-8956. See page 114 of the The Dog Lover's Companion to Boston.
- Blue Hills Reservation (accessible from Milton, Canton and Quincy) consists of nearly 6000 acres of wilderness and is the largest conservation area in the Boston area. Plan time to climb the Great Blue Hill (one of the highest points on the Atlantic coasts.) The Dog Lover's Companion says you should be able to see your home from its observation tower. Afterward, your dog may enjoy cooling off in Houghton's Pond Rated four paws and a footprint. Open dawn to dusk. (617) 698-1802. See page 117 of the The Dog Lover's Companion to Boston.
- The Powwow River Conservation Area is comprised of 200 acres around Lake Gardner and borders Southhampton, New Hampshire. Dogs can explore the area off leash (under voice control) with their humans and enjoy a refreshing swim in the lake. However, dogs are not allowed in the Camp Kent Environment Center, so keep an eye out for boundary signs. Rated four paws and a running dog. Open dawn to dusk. (978) 388-8100. See page 129 of the The Dog Lover's Companion to Boston.
- Dogtown Commons, according to Wikipedia, "is an abandoned inland settlement on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Once known as the Common Settlement and populated by respectable citizens, the area later known as Dogtown is divided between the city of Gloucester and the town of Rockport." "The Dog Lover's Companion," explains that after the American revolution, many local men didn't return, leaving behind "widows, the poor and abandoned dogs."Eventually, the settlement was completely abandoned. You can enjoy wandering off the Dogtown road with your unleashed dog to search out carvings in boulders and stones commissioned by Roger Babson in the 1930s, some with numbers marking important sites and others with inspirational sayings. With 3000 acres of forests, marshes and reservoirs, there are plenty of exploration opportunities to entertain and exhaust you and your canine friend. Rated four paws, a footprint and a running dog. Open dawn to dusk. (978) 281-9720. See page 137 of the "The Dog Lover's Companion to Boston."
My copy of this guide is already dog-eared and stained from use. I'm putting this book on my list of must-haves for all local dog lovers.