Travel

South Sugarloaf Trail- A Quick Hike in Western Massachusetts

South Sugarloaf Trail located near South Deerfield, Massachusetts boasts views of the Connecticut River, the Pioneer Valley and the Pelham and the Berkshire views. Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes drive from Boston, this hike can definitely be covered in less than a day. Infact it is a terrific hike offering tremendous rewards for modest efforts.

Recently, we began this hike on a rainy day however we got lucky that it stopped raining just in about 10 minutes. Parking at the trailhead is free. Here is a link for the start of trailhead. It is a great short but not too intense hike making it a great place to start for beginners, hiking with kids, family or anyone looking for a quick workout. It does get a little steep in patches but nothing too over the top making it relatively an easy one. We took approximately 30 minutes to get to the top.

The trail is marked with blue markers making it a well guided trail to reach the top. It is a dog friendly trail for all those looking to hike with your dogs as well as biking friendly. Once you are closer to the summit there is a part which leads you to the road but don’t think you are on the wrong path as if you take the road and follow through the blue markings it will take you to the summit.

The best part about this trail is you do not need to hike to reach it. You can simply drive from the base of Mount Sugarloaf all the way to the top if you are not in the mood to hike, or with small kids, or just looking to have a picnic with friends and family but still want to enjoy the sweeping views. If you decide to drive to the top there is an entry fee of $5 for Massachusetts Residents and of $20 for Non-Massachusetts Residents.

At the summit there are various picnic tables to enjoy a picnic with your family or friends and also grills available. A great place to spend a summer or start of Fall day to soak in breathtaking views and fresh air.

There is a 3 level observation deck at the summit offering 360 degree views by climbing up the spirally steps. The observation deck offers miles of natural beauty spread out below you. However, if you do not wish to climb the tower there are various look out points at the edge too to enjoy the beautiful views.

All in all a great short trail to explore with spectacular views. Highly Recommend it!

Travel

Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience at Franklin Park Zoo

This weekend we decided to visit the Franklin Zoo which unveiled its doors to the Lantern Experience and what a delight it was. As we entered the Zoo we were greeted by an illuminated welcome sign which gave us a little sneak peak into what to expect and let me tell you we were not disappointed. At the entrance they scanned our tickets and let us in. To ensure social distancing at the Zoo and maintaining limited capacities so as to avoid overcrowding it is essential to make online reservations here. They have ticket options available starting at 6.00 pm everyday until 9.30 pm everyday until November 1, 2020.

We made reservations at 9.00 pm allowing us enough time to enjoy the displays as the Zoo shuts its doors at 10.30 pm. We spent a good 1.5 hours enjoying the displays which we found was enough without it being rushed. If you are planning to go with kids I highly recommend going in earlier just so it doesn’t feel rushed and you have enough time just in case the kids decide to spend more time at the interactive displays.

Spanning 72 acres of the Franklin Park Zoo, there were over 50 majestic displays for everyone to enjoy. As we entered we saw interactive displays like the conservation wheel which allows you to spin the wheel to learn about different ways to conserve nature and wildlife, and step on lit tiles that bloom the petals of flowers on the wall display.

As we walked further, we saw the beautiful Asian lantern displays and a 197 foot long dragon breathing fire details bordered with Chinese Zodiac signs as per the birth year. Just at the tail of the dragon there were interactive musical step stars which were quite popular with the kids. We saw so many kids jumping around on the musical step stars and dancing their way out. I am not going to lie I did too. After all doesn’t everyone have a kid inside of them ?

Walking ahead there were various displays of lights as we reached the section displaying Pandas – A huge tall giant Panda, 2 pandas kissing each other. Another Panda display which caught my eye was the gleaming lit colorful tree with Pandas on it.

As we walked ahead we saw displays of giraffe, zebras, elephants, alligators, hippos and a few more displays. But the one which struck my eye the most was the display of twinkling color changing butterflies. It was bright, colorful and so full of life.

Walking ahead under the tunnel of white lanterns that hung above we we saw another display I really enjoyed was the Peacock fanning its spectacular feathers. Everyone stood there peacefully waiting to watch the peacock fans its feathers and the beautiful changing colors. It was a delight watching the Peacock, The National Bird of India in all its glory.

As we walked ahead through the various dazzling lantern displays and luminous flower displays we watched the beautiful color transforming tree. My husband said this tree reminded him of the tree in the Avatar movie (The Tree of Souls).

Passing through the blue Jellyfish display we walked into yet another display which I completely loved. A walk through an illuminated 66 foot long shark tunnel completely caught my eye. It was as though you are walking directly into the mouth of the shark. It was so creative and beautiful.

As we walked ahead we were nearing the end and walked through the Cinderella Carriage, and an interactive giant piano where you could dance your way on the keys making it lit up and play tunes. Definitely brings out the kid inside of you.

These were just a few of the key highlights for me but there is so much more and literally something for everyone. It is a fun one of a kind experience. If you enjoy watching the lights, the wildlife, nature, and cultural traditions this is definitely for you. As a part of the Zoo’s commitment to conservation and preservation they have used energy saving LED lights to create this whole experience.

The whole experience is magical and in parts interactive as well making it absolutely captivating. Highly recommend it to everyone.

Hope you enjoyed reading my post! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will be happy to answer them. For all other travel guides and to receive my blog posts subscribe to the blog follow me on Instagram

Travel

Worlds End, Hingham – An Easy and Scenic Trail

World’s End, a 251 acre park and conservation area overlooks the Hingham Bay and Boston Harbor offers several miles of trails with great views to the water and Boston Skyline. Recently, we decided to explore the trails while maintaining Social Distancing. Worlds End is owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservation and they have done a great job at not only preserving the area but also ensuring that there is no overcrowding during the pandemic.

To restrict overcrowding and ensuring safe access for everyone you are required to reserve your spot by booking in advance your day of visit and time of visit. To comply with the rules we reserved our timed entry passes a day in advance. To be honest, I really appreciated this to ensure safe access during these times. It is open from 8.00 am to sunset every day. Entry for members is free but non-members can buy there tickets here.

World End trail is an easy trail suitable for everyone kids and adults alike. Dogs are also allowed on this trail and must be kept on a leash. The trail is accessible all year round and is great for a stroll with great views, running, picnics, cyclists, bird watching, horseback riding, cross country skiing adventures and photography. The park is cut with carriage style roads which add an old world feel to it. It is a great place for engagement, wedding, new born photo shoot, or even maternity photo shoots. The best part about it is it offers views of the forest, ocean and Boston Skyline all at the same time. Isn’t that a perfect package? I think around Sunset would be a great time to capture these moments.

The trails are clearly marked and there are maps placed occasionally around the trail. There are several spots to relax around in the shade with the sound of nature and may be even a book or your favorite music. It is a perfect spot for boaters, paddlers, kayakers to enjoy the good summer days.

While you can explore it yourself occasionally there are also various activities and events organized by The Trustees of Reservation. Here is a link for the upcoming events at Worlds End you can explore.

All in all a great way to spend a summer day and soak in the great views of the Boston Skyline. Happy Exploring!

Travel

Mount Watatic and Nutting Hill – A Scenic Trail in Massachusetts

Mount Watatic, a 1832 foot tall monadnock is located on the Massachusetts – New Hampshire border and is definitely one of the most popular hikes in Massachusetts. Mount Watatic is a worthy destination for all hikers as it offers easy, moderate as well as hard trail options to explore. Formerly a ski area, Mount Watatic is now a protected land used for hiking and bird watching with clearly marked trails and offers rewarding views.

Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Boston, this hike can definitely be covered in a day. We explored this trail last Saturday and took the moderate trail going to the summit and the easy trail on our way back. I recommend taking the moderate trail going up and the easy trail on the way back as even though the trail is longer than the easy trail it gains elevation steadily not making it very steep while climbing upwards. However if you prefer taking the easy trail it is great as well.

Here is a link to the start of the trailhead. There is free parking available at the trailhead and if the parking is full there is additional parking available on the opposite side in the lane or along the road which is a short walk from the trail head. This trail gets busy during the summer weekends but nothing so busy that you cannot maintain social distance and explore.

Remember there is a small deviation for the easy trail if you plan to take that otherwise you will be headed in the moderate trail direction. The moderate trail is 2.8 miles gaining elevation of 711 feet and the easy trail is 2.2 miles gaining elevation of 643 feet. If you are looking for a hard trail explore the Wapack Trail.

It is a shaded trail almost throughout leaving aside some open spots making it easy to explore at any time. We ourselves started hiking around noon on a sunny day but found it extremely comfortable. Once we reached the top it was breezy even on a hot summer day making it easy to sit and soak in the beautiful views.

This trail is great for new hikers, or even experienced hikers just starting out for the season or to get a good workout while enjoying the scenic panoramic views. Dogs are also allowed on this trail and must be kept on leash.

On a clear day you can see the Boston skyline from the top of the summit. You can enjoy views of Northern Massachussets and Southern New Hampshire from the summit. It is also a great place to catch the sunrise from the summit with beautiful views. Along the trail we saw many different kinds of wild mushrooms.

All in all a great hike with breathtaking views but not breath taking!

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Travel

Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail – Mount Greylock State Reservation

Mount Greylock, the highest peak in the state of Massachusetts has an elevation of 3491 feet and is one of the most scenic mountains in the United States. Last Saturday we decided to explore one of the trails Mount Greylock has to offer. We decided to pick a short trail with stunning views of Mount Greylock – Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail located near Adams, Massachusetts. It takes approximately 3 hours to reach the trail from Boston but is so worth it.

On our way my husband and I stopped for breakfast at On a Roll Cafe which is on the way to the hike to Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail from Boston. I cannot recommend this place enough. The food is amazing and the outdoor seating is absolutely amazing to soak in the summer with the lush greenery and a small manmade pond around it. We got the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Breakfast Burrito, a side of home cut fries and some juice and they were delicious. At the corner there is an Antique store called Route 7 Trading Post which we explored until we got a table as there was a wait time of approximately 20 minutes and they have some great pieces for anyone interested to get antiques.

After some breakfast we continued on our drive until we reached the 2 mile trail. The trailhead starts at CCC Dynamite Trail and there is parking available right at the beginning of the trail. We parked the car and headed on to the gravel road leading us to the Sperry Road to Stony ledge Trail. This trail is easy and is great for all skill levels but offers some magnificient views. Definitely will be a great place to come back to in order catch the beautiful fall colors.

On the trail we saw some beautiful butterflies, cranberry trees and some beautiful wild flowers.

There is also another diversion which takes you to the March Cataract Fall Trails, something we plan to explore the next time we visit there. The best time to visit the falls is definitely when it has rained as otherwise it will not be the same.

The 2 mile trail is an easy trail to soak in the beauty of the mountains without hiking all day and gains approximately 1500 feet in altitude. The stony ledge delivers panoramic views of the foliage and wild forest. After soaking in the views for sometime we started walking back down towards our car as we decided to drive up to the summit.

One great thing about Mount Greylock is that you can drive all the way up to the summit and explore the view as well even if you do not plan to do the summit hike. As we started driving back again from our trail to the summit there are a couple of lookout points on the way offering some dynamic views.

There is parking available at the summit and once we parked we explored the splendorous views by walking around to explore the Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern views.

At the Summit, there is a 92 feet tower Veterans War Memorial Tower built to honor the states dead from World War I. On a clear day, visitors can view as far as 90 miles to the north from the top of the tower. The tower’s beacon is possibly the most powerful light in Massachusetts intended to shine each night to honor the memory of the fallen heroes except for a few weeks in Spring and Fall to avoid confusing the migrating birds. Currently the tower is closed due to Covid-19 however the views are spectacular just by itself without having to actually climb the tower.

The Bascom Lodge located at the summit serves weekend warriors and hikers. It is currently closed due to the pandemic but can be seen from the outside as you walk around.

All in all a great easy trail to explore with spectacular views. Highly Recommend it!

Travel

Halibut Point State Park, MA – An Easy and Beautiful Trail

Halibut Point State Park located in the town of Rockport, MA is a small trail that spans approximately 2 miles but offers great views. This State Park is approximately one hour to the north of Boston and sits along the Atlantic Ocean featuring the 60 feet deep water filled granite quarry and the relaxing rocky ocean coast.

My husband and I visited this Park on Saturday at around 10.45 am however entered the park only at around 11.30 am as it is a very busy park and had to wait to park the car as the parking was full. Will highly recommend visiting before 10.00 am as once the parking lot is full you might need to wait until another hour to get parking.

Admission – There is a $5 parking fee for all Massachusetts residents and a $20 parking fee for all non Massachusetts residents.

This State Park is a perfect blend of great history and stunning views and is accessible all round the year. The sheets of granite that makes up Halibut Point are around 440 million years old and the quarry ended its operations in 1929 with the collapse of the Cape Ann granite industry.

Just like Massachusetts, this State Park has history under every rock and on every corner. Highly recommend this loop for Instagram worthy photos, the rich history of the granite quarry business and also to visit the watch tower in the visitor center from the WWII era which protected Boston and Portsmouth from attack by the sea. The watch tower offers great panoramic views. Currently the visitor center is closed due to Covid however there is so much more to explore and enjoy.

On a clear day the view stretches from Crane Bridge in Ipswich to Mount Agamenticus in Maine and the Isles of Shoals off the Coast of New Hampshire.

My husband and I spent sometime exploring the numbered self guided tour understanding the evolution of rock quarrying and the significance. On weekends from Columbus Day to Memorial Day they offer quarry tours and on every Saturday morning the tour includes a granite cutting demonstration. Currently they are not offering these tours due to Covid but it is fun exploring yourself too. We definitely want to take the tour once it opens to experience and see for ourselves the demonstration of the granite cutting.

This would be a great spot for a picnic with family and friends to enjoy some snacks while taking in the ocean views which make you feel so calm and relaxed.

After we were done exploring this beautiful loop and trails we headed to grab some lunch at Markouk Bread which is a tiny spot serving Lebanese and Mediterranean food. They make the breads fresh to order which makes it so delicious. We absolutely loved the Manoushie Special and Mohamara flatbreads, hummus and the falafel wrap.

Some other spots on my list to explore around Halibut Point State Park are Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach. This can all easily be enjoyed in a day and is great for taking a day trip from Boston.