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Meadowbrook Rd Weston MAYes I know. It’s turned raw and nasty again in Boston, but I promise that by the weekend it will be sunny and in the 60’s (possibly 70) once again. In fact as early as tomorrow its supposed to be in the 60’s, although it will be cloudy. So why not think ahead to the weekend and make plans to be outdoors, and if you have a friend (2 or 4 footed) to share the day with all the better.

Doggie Day Trips
National Parks – There are over a dozen national parks in Massachusetts, many in the Greater Boston Area. Some like Minuteman Park in Lexington and Concord, Deer Island and Nut Island, part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park system, allow leashed dogs on the trails, although not in the buildings. These are great places for you and your dog to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors.

State Parks – Dogs are allowed in Massachusetts state parks except in swimming areas. Exceptions to this are Walden Pond State Reservation and Boston Harbor Islands State Park where dogs are not permitted. Dogs are restricted at Moore State Park, Plum Island State Reservation (from April 1 until October 1) and Sandy Point State Reservation.

Neponsit River Reservation – Off of I-93 in Dorchester there are several parks and miles of trails for you and your dog to enjoy.

Embracing Nature
There are a number of Nature Preserves/Sanctuaries in the Greater Boston Area that are wonderful to visit. Whether you’re into biking, hiking, bird watching or just strolling through nature with your children, here are some terrific places to spend an afternoon:

Drumlin Farm (No dogs allowed) – part of Mass Audubon , Drumlin Farm is both a real working farm and a wild life sanctuary. Here you can visit the animals, learn about gardening, hike the trails, take a hay ride and even pick up dinner at the farm stand on your way out.

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (No dogs allowed) – one of 8 national wildlife refuges in Eastern Massachusetts, Great Meadows is located in Concord. This is a great place to observe wildlife, take pictures and introduce kids to nature. They also have a hunting and fishing program.

Trustees Reservations – there are over 100 reservations in 71 communities across the Commonwealth. You can find one by location, activities, features and facilities.

Minuteman Bike Trail – an 11 mile bike trail that stretches from Bedford to the Alewife T station in Cambridge. Although called a bike trail, it is used for cycling, walking, jogging, in-line skating, and in the winter cross-country skiing.

Garden in the Woods – A wonderful wild flower garden that you can walk through on your own or with a tour guide. Dogs are not allowed.

If you enjoy hiking or other outdoor sports check out TrailLink. Once you indicate the geographic area you’re interested in, you can narrow down your search by surfaces, trail length and activity. Warm weather time activities include biking, swimming, hiking, walking, birding and fishing just to name a few, and you can also find wheel chair accessible trails. The trail summary will give you a description of the trail, information on parking and trail access, reviews by site users who have used the trail, nearby trails, a link to the trail map and a link to download GPS Data to a Garmin compatible device ($9.99). They are working on a smart phone app, but its currently unknown when it will be available and what phones it will be compatible with.

If instead of a Garmin you have an iPhone or an Android phone, another good hiking/walking resource is EveryTrail. Each trail guide summary indicates the level of difficulty, length of the hike, how long it will take to hike the trail. There are maps (better than those on TrailLink) and photos available and you can download the trail to your phone for free. When you view the map of a trail it will also tell you whether the trail is dog friendly, and where parking is located. You’ll also find trails created by other hikers using the EveryTrail app on their phone. These typically include only a map and photos. This site is easier to navigate, but doesn’t have as many trails or as much information about a trail as Trails.com.

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