Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Number 7: Ride my bike to Nut Island on a beautiful day


It’s on my life list to visit all of the Boston Harbor Islands (NPS site, more informative site), which is going to be tricky as there are 34 of them and less than half are open to the public. I’m still trying to figure out how to solve that problem, but in the meantime I’m trying to hit up at least one new-to-me BHI each year. Last year I made it to Long Island (not open to the public!), the year before I dragged Pete and a friend out to World’s End, and the year before that was when I first discovered the Harbor Islands with a visit to George’s Island while we had friends visiting from out of town. This year I’m hoping to add more than one island to me visited list, so I started easy with a bike ride to Nut Island.

I told you guys earlier, I’m riding the heck out of my bike! Nut Island is about 6 miles from home, depending on how you go. I was planning on a route that seemed like a compromise between scenic and direct…and brought me past Starbucks, because I hadn’t yet decided if I wanted an iced chai to kick off my ride or not. ;) I mostly followed that route, aside from missing a turn somewhere and then just guessing at turns – at one point leading me down a super fun hill (internal monologue: “weeeeee! This is going to be AWESOME, I’m gonna go SO FAST flying down this hill!”) that led to a dead end (internal monologue: “craaaaaaaaap! This is going to be SUCKY, I’m gonna go SO SLOW back up that hill!”), but that mistake was easily corrected and I was back to roads whose name I recognized soon enough. Then there was another giant hill. At which point I hopped off my bike and walked it, I’m sure significantly faster than I could have pedaled up it! Finally, on the other side of that hill, was that big, brown, National Park Service sign telling me I’d made it!

web_2012_05_12_NutIsland_6Nut Island is one of a handful of harbor islands that is no longer an island. It’s been joined to the mainland for some time now, and is home to a sewage screening facility. You can read more about that here, including a paragraph which I’m going to start quoting whenever people question my refusal to swim at Wollaston Beach: “The old Nut Island primary plant, which had been in service since 1952, has been demolished, ending more than 100 years of waste water discharges to the shallow waters of Quincy Bay.”

Nut Island isn’t huge, but it is beautiful. There are a number of trails for walking, running, or biking. There is a pier for fishing. There are benches with amazing views to the Boston skyline, Quincy’s adorable Hough’s Neck neighborhood, and a number of the other harbor islands. There are also stairs that lead down to a very rocky beach, where you won’t want to swim (see above) but you can easily spend a lot of time skipping rocks and searching for sea glass and shells. Or, if you’re the crusty old man I saw, you can spend a lot of time hiding amid the rocks tanning yourself while chain smoking. Small island, plenty to do! I was kicking myself for not having packed a snack and my Kindle so that I could lie in the sun and read for a bit before heading home. I was also kicking myself for not having packed lunch so I could enjoy a mini-picnic!

web_2012_05_12_NutIsland_8In fact, that’s what I think you should do! You can drive to get there, by the way, you don’t have to ride your bike. ;) Pack yourself a picnic lunch and a good book, and head to Nut Island. Don’t pack dessert, because rumor has it that Ginger Betty’s is pretty amazing and you’re going to pass right by it, so just stop in there to pick up dessert on your way. After you park, walk up the hill a bit to the big, grassy, open area with a great view of Downtown Boston, throw down your blanket, and enjoy your picnic lunch (and dessert). Maybe read a bit, maybe nap a bit, and then once you’re ready for a stroll drop your picnic leftovers at the car and head along the trails until you find the stairs down to the water. Practice skipping rocks, find a few pieces of sea glass and a few teeny tiny sea shells to take home as mementos. Then go home, happy to have found such a beautiful little slice of nature hidden in Quincy, of all places.

**You can see a few more photos I took while I was there over on Flickr


Jen said...

I love to go to Nut to think. Not many people know about it.

I have been on Long Island. My Dad used to work for one of the detox centers on the island and to pick him up I was interrogated each time I went to get him. That island is surely haunted.

Sarah G said...

That's so cool that you've been out to Long Island. It does totally seems like it would be haunted - now that I know more about the history of the harbor islands, I bet a lot of them are haunted!!

Tiffany @ Cute Dogs & Hugs said...

Nut Island! Thanks for the idea for a summer biking route. =)