Geologic Hikes

Links to the guides for the self-guided geology hikes are at the bottom of this page.

About the hikes:
       The compilation of self-guided geologic hikes in the Fells is an outgrowth of my interest in informing the public about the exciting field of geology. The geologic hikes in the Fells introduce the varied geology of the Fells and they are an excellent way to introduce natural science. I am especially interested in informing middle through high school students and their teachers about local geology, but anyone can learn Fells geology. Really curious younger students may also find the geology of the Fells interesting. I have also been struck by the curiosity that many hikers in the Fells exhibited when they saw me in the field.

      Aside from the geologic mapping required, it took about three years, working off and on, to assemble all the self-guided hikes currently available. In the planning stages are also a versions for phones or tablets with GPS capability and an online video version. This will take a while!!

      The hike segments posted here are a trial balloon. I hope you have fun with them and I would be grateful to have feedback on what you think of them. Feel free to email me at: jack.ridge@tufts.edu. I would be glad to answer your questions and make the hikes more informative.

       Please be respectful of the rules in the Fells. Stay on the trails and do not collect or deface rocks. Let them there for others to see. Also, do not leave any trace, and if you feel inclined, please be a sport and pick up trash as you go.

       The hikes in the Fells went through many revisions and I had some volunteers test them out before going public. I would like to thank the undergraduate students at Tufts who trail-tested the self-guided hikes during the summer of 2018. This includes Brandon Levenstein, Jason Theal, and Eli West. I would also like to thank the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Tufts University for its support on this project.

Have fun!
Jack Ridge

The Hikes
Below are the currently available downloads of self-guided geologic hikes in the Fells. At the beginning of each download document (PDF format) is useful information about what to expect while hiking in the Fells and also some fundamental geology to get started. The hike routes are all on DCR trails and are marked on geologic maps in the guides.

The Skyline Trail – The geology of the western Fells. The Skyline Trail hike is in seven segments that form a 10 mile (16 km) loop. The hikes are most informative, and probably easier to understand and follow, if they are done in order. At the beginning of each hike is information about how to connect to the starting point of each hike and in some cases alternate starting points and routes.

Skyline 1 – Bellevue Pond to Red Cross Trail: [Link to: Skyline1-BellevueRedCross-SelfGuide.pdf]

Skyline 2 – Red Cross Trail to Sheepfold: [Link to: Skyline2-RedCrossSheepfold-SelfGuide.pdf]

Skyline 3 –Sheepfold to Bear Hill: [Link to: Skyline3-SheepfoldBearHill-SelfGuide.pdf]

Skyline 4 –Bear Hill to Grinding Rock Hill: [Link to: Skyline4-BearHilltoGrindingRockHill-SelfGuide.pdf]

Skyline 5 – Grinding Rock Hill to Molly Spring: [Link to: Skyline5-GrindingRocktoMollySpring-SelfGuide.pdf]

Skyline 6 – Molly Spring to South Reservoir Outlet: [Link to: Skyline6-MollySpringtoSResOutlet-SelfGuide.pdf]

Skyline 7 – South Reservoir Outlet (South Border Road) to Bellevue Pond: [Link to: Skyline7-SResOutlettoBellevuePond-SelfGuide.pdf]

The Rock Circuit Trail – The geology of the southeastern Fells. The Rock Circuit Trail hike is in three segments that form a 5-6 mile (9-10 km) loop. The hikes are most informative, and probably easier to understand and follow, if they are done in order. Below you will also find a link for doing all three segments in one day. This is a lot for one hike and I don’t recommend this! At the beginning of each hike is information about how to connect to the starting point of each hike and in some cases alternate starting points and routes.

Rock Circuit 1 – Pinnacle Rock to Cross Fells Trail: [Link: Rock Circuit 1-Pinnacle to Cross Fells.pdf]

Rock Circuit 2 – Cross Fells Trail to Hemlock Pool: [Link: Rock Circuit 2-Cross Fells to Hemlock Pool.pdf]

Rock Circuit 3 – Hemlock Pool to Fellsway East: [Link: Rock Circuit 3-Hemlock Pool to Fellsway East.pdf]

Rock Circuit 1 to 3: Loop of all three segments: [Link: Rock Circuit 1 to 3.pdf]

The Crystal Spring and Virginia Woods Trails – The geology of the eastern and northeastern Fells. The Crystal Springs Trail hike takes you from Pond Street and north in a loop to Whip Hill and the Greenwood park area. The Virginia Wood Trail takes you through Virginia Wood and its historic trail and to south of Ravine Road. (Note: The Virginia Wood Trail is also marked as part of the Crystal Spring Trail in some places.) Each hike can easily be finished in part of a day. At the beginning of each hike is information about how to connect to the starting point of each hike.

The Crystal Springs Trail – Pond Street and areas to the north: [Link: Crystal Spring 1-north of Pond Street.pdf]

The Virginia Wood Trail – Pond Street and areas to the south: [Link: Virginia Wood 2-south of Pond Street.pdf]