Usually, when we say “I want to get off campus”, it means a trip to Davis or a T ride to Harvard or Boston. This almost always involves spending money at a destination somewhere—even the most practiced Boston explorers need somewhere to sit down after a long walk, and that place is usually a restaurant. Cha-ching. Fortunately for us campus-bound adventurers, it’s spring (!) and a whole world of opportunity is blooming right before our eyes. Walking (and thanks to the bikeshare program, biking) weather has arrived, so here’s an excellent off-campus expedition that don’t involve the T!
The Mystic River and Mystic River Reserve:
Mystic River and the Mystic River Reserve are so close by and completely underrated. If you’re looking for a fun picnic or an afternoon bike ride, head over to Curtis and bike/walk over the hill towards Boston Ave. Keep going on Winthrop until you reach the bridge that goes over Mystic River. You should see a bike/walking path on your right leading to Condon Shell; on your left is a baseball field. The shell is painted with a giant mural done by former Tufts students and would be a great place for a picnic or impromptu concert. If you’re in the mood of a game of kickball or baseball, you can play your heart out while watching swans and ducks swim by in the river. Anyone looking for an adventure can follow the path going past the shell towards the Mystic River Reserve. If you have no qualms about trespassing (and you aren’t on a bike), follow the river as closely as possible—it’ll lead you under the highway, where there’s some really wonderful graffiti art, and past a roller-hockey rink and a windmill. If you’re not a born trespasser or happen to be biking, stay nearby— you can see the path of the river from most of the streets nearby (or you can follow the general direction of Route 16) either way, you’ll end up at the Mystic River Reserve. Once you get to the reserve, make sure to climb the giant wooden tower near the park’s entrance—not only is this a wonderful view of Boston, it’s a perfect place to watch the sun set over the water. Inside the park, there are plenty of places to relax, including some lovely benches and waterside docks. If high reeds and waterside hangouts aren’t your thing, check out the fields above the water, there are sure to be dogs to play with and shady places to sit down with a book. Explore to your heart’s content—you’re bound to find a special place in the reserve.
There are lots of other secret spots you can reach on foot or bike—if you follow the Somerville Community Path (the one that starts out in the statue garden behind the Davis T stop), you’ll eventually hit Jerry’s Pond and Francis Mccrehan Pool, where you can swim for free. If you’d rather stay dry, the pond and pool are right next to baseball and soccer fields. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, stay on the path until it ends—at Rindge Street—then take a left, cross Alewife Brook Parkway in the crosswalk, cut across the parking lot on the other side of the road, then take Alewife Station Road (on your right) until it hooks up with the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway. This trail will take you to Spy Pond, which is a bigger lake with some sandy beaches. Here, you can canoe, picnic, or play soccer on one of the adjacent fields. Who would have thought that you could get in touch with your wild side in the middle of Boston?