For nearly 40 years, the Boston Lot has been one of Lebanon’s best-kept secrets among the outdoorsy set. Its seven-plus miles of trails over 439 acres are an ideal playground for trail running, mountain biking, and hiking in the city. Easily accessible, the trails provide a variety of singletrack with a mix of technical and easier terrain.
Managed by the Lebanon Conservation Committee, the Boston Lot land was designated as city forest in 1974 and was later permanently conserved in 1997. One of its most iconic features is a red oak, believed to be more than 500 years old, that sits on the western boundary. Nicknamed “Big Red,” the tree boasts a circumference that stretches more than 16 feet. Big Red is the exception, however, as most of Boston Lot’s trees are fewer than 12 inches in diameter, since the entire area used to be pastureland.
With the exception of one area near power lines, the entire trail system at Boston Lot is forested. Wildflowers and ferns bloom across the landscape, which is also dotted with glacial boulders. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including squirrels, weasels, bear, fishers, rabbits, foxes, skunk, mink, beavers, bobcat, moose, and deer. An abundance of bird species also makes Boston Lot a popular area for bird enthusiasts.
The most popular trail is Lakeside, a 5.5-mile loop trail that starts at the parking area near Wilder Dam and circumnavigates the 46-acre Boston Lot Lake, former city reservoir and the area’s namesake. Surrounded by a series of ridges, the lake offers stunning views, especially during fall foliage season, and is a wonderful place for a picnic or to take a quick dip post-hike, -run, or -ride.
From Lakeside, two connecting trails bring riders, runners, and hikers to the more technical singletrack. With rocks and roots, this route offers more of a technical challenge for bikers. From these trails, head up to the peak of Burnt Mountain, a steep climb that provides a good workout and rewarding views from the summit. The terrain along the mountain trail is rocky with ledges and some rock gardens, making it more technical than the trails closer to Boston Lot Lake. Head in the opposite direction of Burnt Mountain for a loop around Honeysuckle Hill, which is much closer to the parking area.
The trails at Boston Lot are not well marked, and with so many loops and connecting trail systems it’s easy to get lost. Runners, bikers, and hikers should bring a GPS to help navigate, especially those unfamiliar with the area. Download a Boston Lot trail map to get an overview of the area before heading out. Parking is available at the picnic area on the east side of NH 10 just north of Wilder Dam.