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Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor

21 June 2014

Day Trip Report

Just across from downtown Boston, in about 30 minutes by ferry are Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. They make a destination for the day or for camping over multiple days.

On a clear sunny day, we left the house to board the ferry by 1030 toward Spectacle Island.


Location: 42.3614916666667°N, 71.0454633333333°W

The ferry stops at several islands completing a loop back to the terminal. A ticket is only required when leaving the terminal from Boston toward the islands. Once out in the harbor, you can board the ferry from any island to another or to return to Boston without any additional tickets.


Location: 42.322472°N, 70.987323°W

We were surprised by the peculiar nature of the beach, made up of small pieces of china among other familiar items, until we learned the history of the island from a park ranger. In the nineteenth century, the island housed a city trash incinerator that remained active until 1935. When the incinerator closed, trash was simply dumped on the island for the next thirty years. The island remained a smelly, leaking dump until the 1990s, when it was converted to a park.


Location: 42.3215166666667°N, 70.987805°W

There was plenty to do on the beach and at the visitor center to learn about & explore the island.

We hiked toward to North Drumlin Summit with plenty of views to enjoy along the way. At the Summit, we found a shelter, picnic table, & play area:


Location: 42.3267416666667°N, 70.9877566666667°W

We finished the loop hike returning to beach for more play, with more views of Boston’s skyline:


Location: 42.32529°N, 70.989065°W

Back at the beach, the boys found plenty of choices for skipping stones:


Location: 42.3245883333333°N, 70.9887733333333°W

We worked our way back to the ferry terminal and then to Boston. The weather was quite warm by late afternoon, so the boys were ready for a splash in the water of a fountain near the ferry terminal:


Location: 42.3590233333333°N, 71.0519366666667°W

Nearby is Quincy Market for some Japanese noodles at Wagamama:


Location: 42.3602083333333°N, 71.0535833333333°W

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