Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Chestnut Hill Reservoir: Brighton, MA

Directions: Click here for Google map (there is a free parking lot on Beacon St)

The Chestnut Hill Reservoir park is a splendid place to walk or run with your pup and enjoy lunch on a park bench.  Although it was built in an area that was very secluded at the time, the neighborhood today is bustling with college students, young professionals, families, trolleys, and cars!  But thanks to many lovely trees and shrubbery around the park, nearly all of the commotion fades away as soon as you step onto the walking path.

The reservoir was built in 1870 to support Boston’s dire need for water.  It was considered at the time to be a “masterpiece” of engineering, urban planning and landscape design.  Rapid growth during the 1850s caused Boston’s population to soar by over 30% in a decade and the city’s main aqueduct was woefully inadequate.  It served the city well for a hundred years, but by 1978 it was no longer needed and was taken offline (it is maintained as an emergency backup water source, however).  The reservoir is recognized today on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a City of Boston Landmark.

As you walk around the 1.5 mile loop, watch how the sunlight sparkles on the water as geese, ducks and turtles enjoy themselves.  Sunset is a lovely time, as the beautiful Boston College campus is drenched in a sublime apricot syrup.  The exquisite Waterworks Museum (previously a pumping station) is an architectural beauty to behold.  City architect Arthur Vinal designed the building in 1888 by copying the Victorian style of H.H. Richardson, who had died a few years earlier.  As you continue on the loop, you’ll even see the tops of some downtown buildings peeking over the trees.

For more information about the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, click here.  

Dogs are required to be leashed in the park.  

Information sources: Mass.gov Department of Conservation and Recreation

Here are the positive features:
  • A peaceful and beautiful flat path around the reservoir
  • Wheelchair / stroller accessible walkways, although there is a bit of a hill to get from the parking lot to the path and the actual path is gravel/sand - not paved
  • Free parking lot
  • Park benches
  • Open year-round 
  • Lots of restaurants & frozen yogurt in this Cleveland Circle neighborhood
  • There is a paved sidewalk that goes around the entire outside edge of the reservoir, which is another lovely option for a walk
  • The parking lot almost always has space available and even at the busiest times, the path is not overly crowded
Negative features:
  • No restrooms available (although there are businesses in the area with restrooms)
  • No doggie bags are provided, so plan to bring your own
  • People and dogs are not supposed to go in the water
  • The trash barrels disappear once summer is over
  • The path is gravel/sand, so you get little rocks in your shoes
  • Mosquitoes and ticks are here and there, especially in the wooded areas, but they're not bad if you stick to the path
  • People tend to ignore the leash law, so keep that in mind if you have a sensitive dog

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