There are about a dozen parking spaces in the main parking lot. If needed, you can also park on the side of the road by the parking lot.
Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset
Before you even begin climbing the ascent to Signal Hill, the views from the parking lot are astounding.
Besides the historical significance (it used to be the home to the Paleo-Americans who settled on what would become the Neponset River) and the active wildlife (hawks are said to nest there and many amphibians inhabit the area by the river), Signal Hill also offers grand views of the Boston Skyline, Blue Hills and the Neponset River Valley.
The hill to the scenic outlook at Signal Hill is modest at best. It should only take 10 minutes to go from the parking lot to the outlook.
The views are worth the short hike.
The scenic overlook has some pretty trees and rocks.
One of the charming features of Signal Hill is the short loop (1.6 miles) at the base of the hill. After climbing and trudging along so many long and steep hills, it’s refreshing to be able to take a leisurely stroll along the clearly defined trail. There are also trails that veer off a little.
Off the main trail there is a canoe launch site on the Neponset River. The upstream launch site goes to Norwood (MA) while the downstream site leads to Milton (MA).
Since there is little traffic on the road, the road to Signal Hill is popular with joggers and cyclists.
I met Charley during my visit. He was having fun playing in what remained of the snow on the trail.
Every year during the holidays, I make my annual trip to Yankee Candle Village in Deerfield, MA.
The flagship shop of New England, the Yankee Candle Village is known for his decorative and at times eccentric displays. But, during the holidays they go the extra mile.
From the moment you walk onto the property, the Yankee Candle Village welcomes you with holiday cheer and some unique decorations.
Inside the store, there is an assortment of holiday decorations and not just holiday decorations. Wizard of Oz statues, model cars and other displays can be found throughout the shop.
There are Christmas trees galore. Every where you look it seems there is a tree decorated in a unique way.
There are also Christmas village light up displays located in one room. They also have a Halloween village set up.
There is also a stream with koi fish
Try as we might, we could not find Santa. He wasn’t at his regular place
He wasn’t at his desk either
Finally, I found him in the shopping area
There is also an area where customers can make their own candles with the colors and scents they choose. They can also have a candle made in the form of their hands whether it be a fist, peace sign or index finger extended (no middle fingers allowed)
There is also a fountain in the shopping area and a mechanized band that plays for the children. It looks kinda creepy to me, though.
As I left the shop and day turned into night, the lights from the trees and decorations outside lit up the area. It was raining pretty hard so some of the images produced spots that almost look like snow. Sadly, it was only raindrops. There will not be any snow on Christmas for us this year.
There are also many automated attractions at the shop. For instance, in the front of the store there is a toy train that runs along the wall.
Every 4 minutes, it “snows” at the Snowplace Factory in the North Pole of the store.
To get a full appreciation of the light display, I am including a short video showing off all the lights outside the store.
Holidays and mansions. Sounds like a pretty good combination to me. That is what the folks at the Newport mansions are offering all their patrons. As part of the holiday season, the Newport mansions have been decorated for the season. The $29 tour includes 3 of the mansions (The Elms, The Breakers and The Marbles). But, I was only able to see The Elms Mansion.
The mansions aren’t the only ornate buildings in the area. Some of the homes in the area are very pretty as well. Before you arrive at the mansions, you can peak at the pretty houses in the neighborhood.
When you enter the mansions, you are given an audio player with headphones to use as part of the self guided audio tour. Indoor photography is limited to certain rooms (usually they don’t allow photography at all in the mansions but they relaxed their policy slightly for the holiday tours). I might have sneaked in a few more photos from the rooms that weren’t authorized for picture taking. It’s actually kind of a good thing that they limit photography because you could easily be inundated with things to photograph. One room seemed more beautiful or interesting then the previous room.
Photo taking is allowed on the exteriors of the mansions and the grounds of the buildings.
The mansions are available for tours throughout the year. So, if you can’t make it there during the holiday try going another time when it is less busy. If you go to the holiday mansion tour, it is only during daylight hours. Parking can be difficult, especially if you arrive later in the day. But, you should be able to find parking somewhere in the area if you can’t find a spot in the parking lots at the mansions.
The bridges of Western Massachusetts are not just the ones you see on the roadways. But, don’t let the name fool you. The Natural Bridge State Park has so much more to offer.
Before you reach the natural bridge, a brook greets you at the entrance.
Formed through series of continental collisions, erosion and the meltwaters caused by the Ice Age, the natural marble bridge is the only one of its kind in North America.
Deep crevices and chasms were carved through the years of erosion and warming and cooling.
The only marble bridge in North America, the natural bridge in North Adams is located just off the The Mohawk Trail.
Adding to the beauty of the natural bridge, the park has a waterfall.
The Natural Bridge State Park also has impressive views of the bridge and the park it overlooks.
There are many flowers, trees, rocks, bridges (a bridge on a bridge of all things) and even David’s Bench that give the Natural Bridge State Park a special charm.
During our travels, we met Sasha.
Just as you think you’ve seen all the Natural Bridge State Park has to offer there is a small park area atop the walking bridge. Statues and other structures made from the materials mined from the one time quarry rest along the top of the lofty bridge. It capped off a perfect visit.
If you want to feel on top of the world, or at least on top of Massachusetts, there’s no place like Mount Greylock.
Clocking in at 3,491 feet and about an hour and a half west of Springfield, MA, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts. With its miles of hiking trails and scenic views, Mount Greylock is the perfect destination for hikers and nature lovers. There is also a paved road to the summit with places to pull over to view the scenic beauty.
There are also some cute and pretty attractions off the main trails.
Even the views and flowers at the Visitor Center were captivating.
Along the trails
But, the pinnacle of Mount Greylock is the tower that sits atop the summit. First built as a tribute to the veterans of the first World War, the tower now serves as a memorial to all service members who have served the country. When it is lit each night, the tower is said to be able to be seen from 70 miles. The granite from which the tower was came from my hown city, Quincy (pronounced kwin-zee), Massachusetts.
Mount Greylock State Reservation is a dog friendly park. During my visit there were many dogs out enjoying the views.
Izzy was patiently waiting for his mom outside the visitor’s center.
Peanut was getting ready for his big hike.
Max was tired from hiking the trails at Greylock.
This fella was enjoying some rays.
Most of the wildlife at Mount Greylock was hidden during the day. But, I did see this grasshopper.
Mount Greylock is also a popular spot for paragliders. In fact, several paragliders took off from Mount Greylock during the day.
Mount Greylock is also a stop on the Appalachian Trail. It’s a long way to Georgia. Maybe I’ll try it sometime.
Granville State Forest is 2,000 plus acre state forest and campground located in, you guessed it Granville, Massachusetts. Be advised, the trails are long in between the various ponds, brooks and various other attractions. But, you can drive on the unpaved roads if walking isn’t your style.
Located about 45 minutes from Springfield, MA, Granville State Forest was once a popular hunting spot for the Tunxis. I didn’t run into Tunxis during this visit. But, I did see some stunning views. Take this waterfall, for instance.
But, to really get a sense of the beauty of the Hubbard River, one must get off the beaten path, or bridge as it were in this case.
It’s amazing the things you see when you get off the main path. Like this Frog with his lunch.
Or this artful graffiti, especially the curse words. It’s vary quaint. Oh, you crazy kids. At least I hope it was kids who wrote it.
There are also an abundance of pretty flowers and trees.
About a mile from the bridge over the Hubbard stream, there is the two acre Bahre Pond. Bahre Pond has some pretty views.
It is also teeming with wildlife, like this water snake.
And this frog who thought he could hide from me.
Granville State Park also has some paths off the main trails that have some hidden gems.
The main attraction at Granville State Forest has to be the waterfall. Below is a short video of the waterfall in all its splendor.
After photographing a variety of mountainous, rocky state parks, I thought it was time to mix it up and visit a rocky, hilly waterfall. Initially, we planned on visiting CM Gardner State Park. But, the helpful park rangers at CM Gardner suggested something more picturesque, Chester-Blandford State Forest.
Since it encompasses such a large area (over 2,700 acres), Chester-Blandford has several entrances. The first part of the park we arrived at, Boulder Park, is a rather small area with a pond and a few ill defined trails. But, right from the rocky steps and mossy trails at the entrance it has a unique charm.
The trails also have some unique walkways and structures.
The highlight of the park may be the deep opening off the main trail.
Boulder Rock also has some eye catching plants and wild life.
The pond near the end of the main trail was a nice surprise.
Boulder Rock also had its share of wildlife such as this salamander and mouse.
Alas, our trip to Boulder Rock was over. But, about a mile down the road another entrance beckoned us, the main entrance to the Sanderson Brooks Falls trail of Chester-Blandford.
Pitcuresque views are scattered along the Brooks Falls trail.
Due to the lack of rain recently, the rapids weren’t very, well, rapid. But, the relatively still water and rocky brook provided some good shots.
Sanderson Brook Falls also had a fair share of wildlife such as caterpillars,
and dogs, like Loona.
After a roughly half an hour trek along some rocky terrain, a number of bridges and some steep inclines, I made it to the falls.
The brooks and falls are sure to be more active during the stormy seasons. But, it is still impressive and worth the trip.
To get the full effect of the falls, click on the short video below.
Is there anywhere in the New England area you would like me to visit?
Even though it’s only August, today was the perfect day for a trip to Mount October.
Roughly, a 45 minute drive west of Springfield, MA, Mount October is located in the majestic Berkshires. The wild flowers and plant life, which are a staple of the Berkshires, were in full bloom.
The wildlife at Mount October was also abundant.
There were salamanders
Olive posed during her walk with her dad
Emily stuck her head out for some fresh air.
While it serves as a campground, the hiking trails are perhaps the most notable part of the state forest. But, the most challenging part of Mount October was the terrain of these hiking trails. Dew and rain made for marshy, washed out paths which made it even more difficult when you had to cross rocky areas. Some parts of the paths were also fairly steep.
Interestingly, I visited Woods Pond earlier this year which is a section of Mount October. The blog for which can be found here. Even though I had already taken photos of Woods Pond previously, I took a few more during my visit at Mount October.
Mount October is the largest state park in Massachusetts. And, despite spending several hours there, we were only able to cover a fraction of the area. Perhaps I’ll come back in the fall.
Pretty waterscapes are not regulated to the coastlines of New England. Hampton Ponds State Park is proof of this. A cute, expansive series of ponds that dot the Westfield area, Hampton Ponds is a popular area for swimmers, sun bathers and boaters.
Upon reaching Hampton ponds, I was greeted by a gaggle of geese.
And this one solitary goose.
Hampton Ponds has some very impressive trees.
But, it was the vivid greens and wild flowers of the ponds that stood out to me.
Dragonflies also seemed to enjoy the greenery of Hampton Ponds.
The water is so transparent at Hampton Ponds, you can see the fish that inhabit the waters.
Birds are also plentiful at Hampton Ponds. This swallow sort of blended into the sand on the beach head.
Boaters and kayakers took advantage of the warm weather and clear waters at Hampton Ponds
The motorboats created pretty ripples along the glassy water.
Hampton Ponds doesn’t have any long walking trails. But, it does make up for it with its pretty views.
Hampton Ponds is also a popular spot for dogs.
Hercules stopped playing so I could take his photo.
Sparky happily posed for his photo.
Hampton Ponds is also the perfect place to reflect
Legend has it the Native Americans called Mittaneague (pronounced Mit-tin-aig) “the valley of falling water.” The park more than lives up to this description.
Mittineague Park was, without question, the park with the most difficult terrain to travel that I have visited while writing this blog. The sharp inclines, fences furnished with barbed wire and “no trespassing” signs, overgrown brush, unkempt make shift trails and other obstacles made it difficult to photograph.
It is a shame because Mittineague has some wonderful views.
Mittineague also has a tunnel under the railroad tracks that run through the park.
During my visit, the train passed by on the rickety rails.
and kept going…
and kept going…
and, well, you get the picture…
But, the gem of the park must be its stone bridges and walkways.
Mittineague also has an impressive assortment of trees. They are majestic not just in their stature but also in their sheer beauty.
There is also a variety of plant life and wild flowers.
Mittineague is also teeming with birds
and, of course, dogs.
Lucy did a great job fetching her frisbee.
Lincoln posed proudly with his mommy.
And Annabelle smiled broadly for her photo.
Mittineague also has well manicured soccer fields and baseball diamonds and its basketball and tennis courts as well as a play area for kids.
Or, the kids can just go for a swim in the various brooks and waterfalls at Mittineague.