An Abandoned Ski Hill Reborn as a Hiking Oasis: Prospect Hill Park

Heading up is a common theme at the former ski hill
Heading up is a common theme at the former ski hill Ian Murphy
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Believe it or not, the greater Boston area once had more than 60 local ski hills. Only four remain, but many energetic locals now use the hilly terrain for other purposes like running, hiking, and mountain biking.
One such community favorite is Prospect Hill in Waltham, MA, which operated as a ski resort from the late 1940s to 1990, with eight ski runs, a rope tow, and two T-bars at its heyday. Now known as Prospect Hill Park, it’s managed by the Waltham Recreation Department and features 250 acres of wooded terrain filled with trails, 22 in all, plus a paved road to the top—suited for heart-pumping workouts and relaxing strolls.
Prospect Hill has two modest summits, Big Prospect at 485 feet and Little Prospect at 435 feet.

While somewhat daunting, running or riding up the face of Prospect Hill is a great workout Yoshi
With a steep face at the start, Prospect Hill makes for great and challenging workouts. Popular (and easier) choices for a relaxed hiking excursion or warming up for a run include Wood, Bond, Maloy, Sunset, and Little Prospect Trails. Sunset, Bond, and Maloy all connect with one another, creating a long, easy winding trail down the right side of the hill. Little Prospect also affords a great view of the Boston Basin.
When you’re ready for something a bit more challenging, try Madden Trail, Boy Scout Trail, and Ridge Trail. Ridge Trail is one of the longer trails in the park, plus it connects to many other paths, allowing you to link together a longer bike, hike, or run. Ridge Trail is also fun for its varied terrain, ranging from moderate to more challenging as it winds around and up the hill, passing through the deep forest, and gradually becoming more and more steep and rocky as you continue upward towards Big Prospect.
Boston Rock Trail, Ridge Trail, Big Prospect Trail are known for being some of the more difficult trails at the Park, especially Boston Rock which climbs steeply for the first quarter mile. As a reward, the hardest trails also have the best views of the Boston Skyline and Boston Basin. You’ll see a fenced in rock—Boston Rock and the trail’s namesake—at the top of Boston Rock Trail, which has the Park’s most spectacular view of Boston.

Boston Rock Jason Forbes

Mountain bikers are also welcome at Prospect Hill, with one of the more popular options being the ride straight up the face of the hill. This route is not only a great workout, but also a fantastic way to really push right from the start. Many of the trails are quite hilly, such as Big Prospect and Pine Ledges Trail. Be forewarned, the terrain can be rather steep, but makes for challenging riding within sight of the city.

In addition to working up a sweat, you’ll be able to explore the various wetlands and wooded areas of the park or take a break at one of 13 picnic areas.

About a 30-minute drive from downtown Boston, with free entrance and free parking, Prospect Hill Park in Waltham is an easily accessible way to experience nature close to home. It is open year round and from dawn to dusk.

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