Healthy hearts are a universal concern. In Massachusetts, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)has responded to that concern by establishing a statewide system of walking trails that offer recreational options that contribute to good heart health.
You can spot these 75 trails across the commonwealth from Cape Cod to the Berkshires, on the North and South Shore, in the Green Valley section of south central Massachusetts and lots of spots in between. All are identifiable by a sign marked with a Green Heart and the DCR logo.
As my husband and I have discovered, regardless of their location within the state most of the Healthy Heart Trails resemble one another in terms of length and difficulty. For example we were pleased to find that very few of the trails ask you to complete more than approximately 1.5 miles of walking. Many trails were constructed to allow you to shorten whatever the total distance might be by using loops and side trails to abbreviate your course. Trails were also tailored with the needs of heart patients in mind. Courses do offer variations but most trails have lots of level walking with only moderate elevation. The idea clearly is not to challenge you out of wanting to exercise but to encourage your efforts and allow you to stay on the course.
While we can’t claim to having walked all 75 of the Healthy Heart Trails our personal interests have taken us to some enjoyable locations. As two of our children graduated from Boston College, my husband and I were interested in “Reservoir Loop”, a the Healthy Heart Trail located adjacent to the B. C. campus.
It has a college feel to it, plenty of young people passing by, a view of the city, a nearness to water and a flat terrain that is appreciated if you chose to do the full 1.5 miles that the trail entails. .
The fact that my husband and I both majored in history in college has made the Healthy Heart Trail at Walden Pond in Concord one we have enjoyed and returned to several times.. While the terrain here is a little more challenging, there are no mountains to climb, just some elevation and narrow paths here and there. In return for your walking efforts you get to see the pond that made Henry David Thoreau famous. You walk by the location of his cabin and you soak up the natural seasonal beauty of this little Massachusetts gem. A side benefit is of course that you have also put yourself in one of Massachusetts most famous communities and a place where you can spend time visiting the spawning grounds of American history and literature.
There are lots of Healthy Heart Trails that border water – take your pick. Your walk can take you along a cranberry bog at Patriot Place Nature Trail in Foxboro or near the ocean at Horse Neck Beach. We have enjoyed steps taken along Cape Cod Canal Pathway near Scusset Beach as well as the Blackstone Canal Towpath Trail in Uxbridge. Not fond of water, then check out Charlie’s Loop Trail at Purgatory Chasm Reservation in Sutton, MA or take a peaceful meander through F. Gilbert HIlls State Forest in Foxboro. There really are no two Healthy Heart Trails that are just alike. Find one that matches your tastes and return to it frequently or take the Healthy Heart Trails challenge and try a visit to each and every one.
As the name suggests Healthy Heart Trails were established to help folks address cardiac well being. But the additional good news is that while you are working towards heart health you don’t have to do it in a vacuum. Healthy Heart Trails are fun, their moderate distance and difficulty make them great places for the whole family to enjoy, especially kids. In a generation that is plagued by inactivity and its result, obesity, Healthy Heart Trails are a boon to us all. .