Accessible day trips & short adventures, intertwined with a little history & a big appreciation for strange landscapes & notable natural landmarks.  

© 2020 lil pines co.

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Agamenticus can be seen on the horizon from Route 1 leaving Kittery- it's not the tallest mountain at only 692 feet above sea level, but it gives spectacular views of the ocean and coast, because it's only six or so miles inland. Historically, the mountain was a noted landmark to many, including sailors and fishermen of the 17th century. The little mountain is even visible from Halibut Point on Cape Ann.

Agassiz Rock is a park in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, that is owned and maintained by The Trustees of Reservations. Follow a short trail up to two sites of amazing glacial erratics, one of which you can crawl under. We first came across this rock one spring after eating the Combo Plate at Woodman's. We had to lie down (under a rock). It's the perfect place to relax. Across the street is a beautiful boardwalk meandering through a cedar bog. It's dreamy. It's so beautiful it'll make you feel woozy. Consuming too much fried food and beer before-hand is recommended.

 

​Arcadia Mgmt Area has access points in Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton, and West Greenwich, Rhode Island. The area contains an extensive network of trails throughout a large acreage of old forest. Hike along some rocky outcrops, through a pine barren, or around a pond. We love the Mt. Tom Trail.

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Bakers Island Light Station sits about five miles off the coast of Salem, Massachusetts. You can visit for a day, or stay overnight at the Assistant Keepers House.

 

Beebe Hill State Forest is home to a fire tower at the end of a short but beautiful hike, and the views from the top are amazing. Neighboring Harvey Mountain is the highest in the county at 2,065 feet. Between the two forested areas, you'll find many great hikes, and two lean-tos for camping. While you're in the area, be sure to check out Chatham, Ghent and Kinderhook, New York

​Black Point is a rocky stretch of coast in Narragansett, Rhode Island with a long history of shipwrecks. There is a loop trail that leads down to the ocean where you can climb over rocks and look for snails and crabs in tidal pools. Walk to the end of the trail closest to Scarborough Beach to walk through the ruins of an old stone structure.

 

​Block Island has an amazing landscape of bluffs and beaches, bikeable hills through farms and fields, two amazing lighthouses, a salt pond and a few freshwater ponds, and views of the first offshore wind farm built in the United States. Forty percent of the island is legally protected and set aside for conservation by The Nature Conservancy. From Point Judith, Rhode Island, you can take your bike on the Block Island Ferry to the island in just under an hour. 

 

​Blue Hills Reservation is the largest undeveloped conservation land within the Boston area. We love the Skyline trail, which on the north side of Hillside Street will take you along some beautiful terrain. This loop brings you to the weather observatory where you can stop for a snack, or a tour of the tower. The Skyline Trail South of Hillside Street is equally varied in terrain, with some peaks and very good views. We also love walking the Reservation south of Interstate 93, where you can hike a loop around Ponkapoag Pond and walk down a narrow boardwalk through a beautiful cedar bog.

BORDEN FLATS LIGHTHOUSE sits fifty feet tall in the mouth of the Taunton River just before it empties into Mt. Hope Bay. Stay a night, or a few, in the keepers quarters inside the light tower. The owner, Kevin, will set you up for an amazing night smack in the middle of the river. It was one of the best experiences we've ever had.

The Boston Harbor Islands nestle into one of the most historic harbors in America- all 34 of them- and are so accessible from downtown Boston, you can be out there island-hopping in about 20 minutes to an hour, depending on where you stop first. They are maintained by quite the force of both preservation and rejuvenation- the National Park Service, Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, Boston Harbor Now and the City of Boston all have a say in the vitality of the Islands.

Breakneck Ridge Trail in Beacon, New York- if you're starting from the North, very close to downtown Beacon- begins with a steep incline that zig-zags upwards before leveling slightly by the ruins of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway. Take a break and stand among the brick and machinery that used to carry visitors to the casino that sat only a short walk away. The casino's old footprint -only a foundation remains- offers a wide, flat overlook of Beacon and the Hudson River. Beyond Beacon Overlook, you'll notice a fire tower in the distance. The tower is closer than it seems.

​Brenton Point State Park Newport, Rhode Island. Brenton Point offers an amazing, panoramic view of the ocean. Walk along the perimeter of the field and its trails to count kites stuck in trees (our record is 52). Beyond the field you will encounter the ruins of a stable and a stone tower that will give you a view above the trees.

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Cadillac Mountain is one of the highest natural peaks with ocean views in this country, as the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. In the autumn and winter, it's the first place in this country to see the sunrise. The pink granite of Cadillac Mountain was made from volcanic forces millions of years ago and then gouged and smoothed by the last ice age.

​Carousel Lounge is the best bar ever, on Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts. If we are not home, chances are we are at the Carousel. If we are home, chances are we are dreaming about being at the Carousel. It's almost always open despite being in an otherwise seasonal ocean-side town. The Carousel continually draws both the best and the worst karaoke singers you could ever imagine.

​Crane Beach is a 1,234-acre conservation and recreation property located in Ipswich, Massachusetts, north of Cape Ann. It consists of a four-mile-long sandy beachfront, dunes, a maritime pitch pine forest, and five and a half miles of hiking trails through the dunes and forest accessible from the beachfront.

​Cumberlandite is the state rock of Rhode Island, it’s magnetic, and it’s often confused with a meteorite. It's found in only one spot on earth- a lil four-acre plot of land in Cumberland, behind the superbly historic Ballou Cemetery.

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​Dickinson Hill Fire Tower is right next to Grafton Lakes State Park, a 2,545-acre state park in Rensselaer County, where you'll find 25 miles of trails and 6 ponds. The hikes in this area are easy, but the view from the tower makes the visit well worth it.

​Dogtown is an abandoned inland settlement on Cape Ann. It appears to be a tidy wooded area between Gloucester and Rockport, but has a crazier history of pirates, witches, widows, and feral dogs. Read up on its history and then go take an easy stroll. You'll definitely see some great monoliths, and you might see some ghosts.

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​East Bay Bike Path runs 14.5 miles from India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island across the Seekonk River and all the way down to Bristol, paralleling the east shore of Narragansett Bay along an abandoned railroad route.

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​Ferncliff Forest in Rhinebeck, New York is across the Hudson River from the Catskills, giving you excellent views of those mountains. The forest contains an intertwined group of easy trails.

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​Gillett Castle State Park in East Haddam, CT sits on the Connecticut River about fifteen miles north of Long Island Sound. The unique castle was once the home to actor William Gillette, best known for portraying Sherlock Holmes. The home was completed in 1919, and was purchased by the State of Connecticut in 1943. There are many trails throughout the grounds. Look for the remains of Gillette's three mile long railroad, and check out the banks of the Connecticut River. The home has many great architectural details inside, including secret doorways and intricate woodwork. Nearby Devil's Hopyard State Park has more beautiful trails and an awesome waterfall.

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Halibut Point in Rockport, Massachusetts has a really unique landscape with paths leading to an old quarry, and beyond that, the ocean. The flora is beautiful, and the rocks leading up to the ocean are amazing.

 

The Hot Club offers an expansive outdoor deck with panoramic views of the Providence skyline. Actually, it's mostly just a view of the power plant, but it's still the prettiest place in Providence to get tanked. You'll also get a nice view of the hurricane barrier and marina. Be sure to hop on the Providence River Boat Company Tour straight from the Hot Club deck for an awesome view of the city. The deck has been featured in several major television shows and films, including "Something About Mary."

​The Hotel Vernon, Worcester, Massachusetts. Early one summer we got hooked on Narragansett Town Beach, and then couldn't find it again. It's a delicious IPA and makes you woozy after about four sips. We were hiking through Purgatory Chasm when Chris said, "Let's go to the Hotel Vernon! They have a room that looks like the bottom of a ship!"  We were the first patrons of the day. I order a Wormtown and the bartender goes, "Sure but we have another IPA on draught for only a buck." It was Town Beach! Can you believe it?! Anyway. The Hotel Vernon never disappoints and the Ship Room is a fantastic place to watch live music.

HUNTER MOUNTAIN in the West Kill area of the Catskills has an amazing trail leading to a fire tower with insane views. The tower was the first built in the Catskills region and sits at the highest elevation of all the towers in New York State.

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Indian Ladder Trail is a popular trail in John Boyd Thacher State Park. The trail takes you down a metal staircase and along the escarpment. You'll climb the rocks, pass under Minelot Falls and see many caves. After walking the Indian Ladder Trail, head down to the bottom of the park for beer and snacks at Indian Ladder Farms.

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is a Mass Audubon property in Topsfield, Massachusetts. The land consists of swamps and marshes, meadows, drumlins, pines, and other various forest. You'll find many boardwalks weaving through the swamps, and over ten miles of trails through the property. The trails are mostly moderate and flat, but the views through the pines and across the marshes are wonderful.

The Isles of Shoals are a group of small islands and tidal ledges six miles off the coast, straddling the borders of Maine and New Hampshire. Star Island is home to a historic hotel from which you can rent a rowboat and enjoy a short row in the ocean to the neighboring Smuttynose Island. Smuttynose is also the site of a famous double-murder.

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Kaaterskill Falls near Palenville, New York is an iconic waterfall with two tiers of cascades falling a total of 231 feet. Climb a short trail up to the base of the falls, and then continue up to ledges at both the middle of the falls and the top. The full length of the trail going all the way to the top of the falls is only about a half-mile, although it can be steep at times. The views are breathtaking and the power of the falls is awesome. At the top of the falls, you'll cross the water on a bridge and then continue on to a viewing platform for checking out of both tiers from above, plus the mountains beyond.

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Lake George is an iconic lake nestled amidst the Adirondack Mountains. It's deep, clear and long- 32 miles from the northern tip to the southern tip- and you can cover a lot of ground on a trip to the lake. In just under twenty-four hours we hiked two trails on the eastern side of the lake, and went for a swim in between. Both Black Mountain and Buck Mountain summits give amazing views of Lake George and the rolling mountains around it.

Larz Anderson Park is in Brookline Massachusetts, home to Leah's favorite tree. The park has large sloped hills to run up and down, a pond, and borders a community garden that you can weave in and out of. Look out for the ruins of the Larz & Isabel Anderson estate, and visit their carriage-house-turned-auto-museum.

Long Point of Provincetown begins about a mile past downtown, at the very end of the curl of Cape Cod. This long, narrow beach is accessible by the breakwater that juts out from Pilgrim's First Landing Park at the end of Province Lands Road, or by the long beach's edge along Cape Cod Bay. This walk will grant you close-up views of two historical lighthouses, and will allow you to explore the quietest, most secluded spot on the Cape for hours.

Lynn Woods is a beautiful place to hike, and you'll feel extremely lucky if you stumble upon open doors to both the stone tower on Burrell Hill, and the perfectly creepy pitch-black cavern of Dungeon Rock. You can read the strange history of Dungeon Rock here. Dungeon Rock & the stone tower are generally open May 1 through November.

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Middlesex Fells Reservation is a Mass State Park located in Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester with over 100 miles of trails. The area is rocky and rugged at times, with well-maintained trails connecting the various peaks throughout the park. You'll get many amazing views of the Boston skyline and of various other towns in the area.

Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary is the oldest property of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, established in 1916 and located in Sharon, Massachusetts. It has a well-marked network of trails to mix and match for longer or shorter hikes.

Mount Battie has a trail to the top that is steep and rocky but still fairly easy. The hike up and back is about a mile and a half. Early in the morning, you'll get an amazing view of the sun rising over Penobscot bay and downtown Camden. There is a great tower at the top.

Mount Toby in Sunderland, Massachusetts has a fire tower at the peak, a really cool cave and a few waterfalls. We like hiking the Robert Frost Trail up the mountain.

Mount Tom Trail in Arcadia Management area is a favorite. It starts just off of Ten Rod Road at Wood River, and extends through an amazing pine barren. These trees are rugged, lichen-covered, and they tower over you. Then you'll cross Mt. Tom Road and hit some great ledges. There are a ton of boulders to climb. Past those ledges, the trail extends back up north of Ten Rod Road, and along Old Ten Rod Road for a bit, where the trail lays flatter than before, but is still surrounded by many rocky outcrops.

Mount Greylock in North Adams is the highest point in Massachusetts, but still an easy day hike. You'll find the Appalachian Trail at some point on your way up, plus an awesome tower at the top.

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Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Charleston, Rhode Island, is an area north of Ninigret Pond that features salt marshes, kettle ponds, forest, and the runway remains of a World War II Naval Auxiliary Air Station. The landscape is unique, and varied. Walking near Ninigret Pond along the old runways, you can hear the sound of the ocean across the pond's barrier. North of Post Road, the area is more forested, butting up against Burlingame Management Area and Watchaug Pond.

 

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Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire is on the Piscataqua River, almost to Portsmouth. The sand is nice, the rocks are neat, and the breakwater will take you out pretty far for a good view of New Castle and Fort Stark. The surrounding wooded park has flat trails and strange nooks to explore as well. The park is also home to the Seacoast Science Center.

Overlook Mountain is steeply sloped, and is an invigorating hike as you rise above the trees. Bring a wine-in-a-can up the trail, pass through the Overlook Mountain House ruins, and push on through to the peak where you can crack open that can with your lunch and let the red-wine courage bring you to the top of the Overlook Mountain fire tower. It's the kind of view that makes you think you can notice the curve of the earth. It'll make your stomach drop.

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Plum Island is a barrier island located north of Cape Ann in Massachusetts. It extends for 11 miles, with various spots to access the beach, or boardwalks through the marshes.

Pomham Rocks Lighthouse sits on a tiny island in the Providence River just off the shoreline of East Providence. The lighthouse was first lit in 1871, deactivated by 1974, and had fallen into disrepair. In 2006 the lighthouse was re-lit and then in 2010 it was donated to the American Lighthouse Foundation. For the last fourteen years, Friends of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse has been restoring the lighthouse with hopes of having it open to the public as a museum.

Providence River Boat Company gives a fantastic tour of the Providence River, Riverwalk, Waterplace Park and the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, highlighting historical, nautical and architectural points of interest. Plus, drinking beer on a boat is the best. The tour leaves from the Hot Club Deck- 575 South Water Street, Providence, Rhode Island.

Purgatory Chasm is a quarter-mile split through a granite outcrop in Sutton, Massachusetts. The huge granite rocks rise as much as seventy feet from points of the lower, central trail. There is also a loop trail along the top edge of the granite that gives an amazing view of the rocks from above, and then extends into the surrounding forest. Throughout the chasm there are many strange rock formations, aptly named The Corn Crib, The Coffin, The Pulpit, Lovers' Leap and Fat Man's Misery (aka Butt Rock).

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Red Hill Fire Tower in Claryville, New York is the sturdiest, most well-maintained fire tower we've ever been on, and the trail up is easy and fairly short. Go in the spring, summer or autumn and the trek will be very manageable. You'll find a ranger station at the top of the hill. The view from the tower is exceptional, and it's easy to want to stay up there for a long time. The cab at the top is secure, and there are binoculars and maps to check out. You'll see many other peaks in the Catskills and the Shawangunk Ridge.

Rocky Point State Park in Warwick, Rhode Island on Narragansett Bay was once home to an amusement park. It's a hilly, open park with remnants of the old amusement park here and there, and fantastic rocky outcrops to climb. At the water's edge there are great places to sit on the rocks, for an amazing view of the bay and it's islands.

Rose Island Lighthouse proudly lights tiny eighteen-acre Rose Island in Narragansett Bay just off the shore of Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island. You can visit for the day, or stay overnight.

Rosendale Trestle has been open to the public since 2013 as a walkway 150 feet above Rondout Creek. Joppenbergh Mountain, at close to 500 feet tall, juts up from the bank of the creek, alongside the trestle. The Wallkill Valley Land Trust preserves the trestle today, along with many other Ulster County lands and properties of scenic, cultural and ecological importance.

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Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is a peninsula in Middletown, Rhode Island with two and a half miles of ocean-front trails. Climb down the rocks to get great views of the ocean and the tip of Little Compton. The rocky coast is amazing here. It's an important spot for wintering migratory birds, so you may get a glimpse of some great birds- including the snowy owl or more than two hundred other species.

Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, Rhode Island is the perfect end to a day trekking through Pardon Gray Preserve and Weetamoo Woods in Tiverton. The water is crystal clear and pleasantly refreshing. Stop at Evelyn's Drive-In on your way home.

Samuel Slater Canal Boat was commissioned by the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and was built by C T & P Fox Builders of Cambridgeshire, England. It was completed in November 1999 and was the builder's first export. It was launched on the Blackstone River in May of 2000, available for river cruises and overnight stays. In the early half of the 19th century similar boats traveled the Blackstone Canal between Providence, Rhode Island and Worcester, Massachusetts.

SaNDY NECK LIGHT is located in Barnstable, Massacusetts. Mass Audubon offers tours which include kayaking out from the Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary and climbing Sandy Neck Lighthouse, built in 1857.

StISSING FIRE TOWER is one of our favorite towers, located in Pine Plains, New York. 30 feet taller than the other fire towers in the area, Stissing Fire Tower gets you to almost 90 feet above the top of the mountain. The cab at the top gives you amazing views of both the Catskills and the Berkshires.

Strawbery Banke Museum is the unreal restoration and preservation of a very real neighborhood in Portsmouth, very close to Prescott Park and the harbor. The neighborhood dates back to 1630, when it was named after the wild strawberries along the Piscataqua River. Today, homes dating back four centuries are open to the public as the Strawbery Banke Museum, giving visitors unbelievable insight into the neighborhood's history and growth, from the early 1630's until the late 1950's.

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Thacher Park, or John Boyd Thacher State Park near Albany, New York is a very scenic part of the Helderberg Escarpment with more than twelve miles of trails. You'll find many panoramic views of the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys. The state-owned park is one of the most fossil-rich spots in the country.

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WATSON FARM offers self-guided tours of the Historic New England operated property in Jamestown, Rhode Island. The historic 1789 family farm is open seasonally. You can walk past the livestock grazing, down through the farm fields all the way to Narragansett Bay. Our favorite spot on the property was the highest point in the fields where you could see the whole mouth of the bay, and straight out to Block Island.

Widow Jane Mine is now used for many things- mushroom cultivation, trout farming, water supply, extensive corporate fallout shelters, and storage for important records. Because of its amazing acoustics, many musicians have recorded and performed here. The mines are thoroughly impressive.

Wompatuck State Park is only about 30 minutes south of downtown Boston, yet has 12 miles of paved bicycle trails, many miles of hiking trails, and tent campsites. It's a beautiful, well maintained forest, but the most exciting thing about visiting Wompatuck is that it's so close to many awesome things. Check out nearby World's End in Hingham, Nantasket Beach and Hull after a hike through Wompatuck.