Fowl Meadow and The Ghost of I-95
Blog #3 By Will Reason
The Skyline Trail of the Blue Hills Reservation does a strange thing. After ascending the magnificent Great Blue Hill, it dives back down and stubbornly continues. The trail climbs up the appropriately-named Little Blue Hill, then meanders through a forest that stands a bit too close to the nearby office parks, and finally peters out yards from the guardrails of the I-95 on-ramp. Why the original trail architects chose to have it end so anticlimactically is beyond me, but the advantage of this extra section is the access it provides to two unusual and fascinating spots.
Abandoning watercraft for the day, I took a short but pleasant walk through this final stretch of the Skyline Trail. I then followed a herd path stomped out by hikers confused about the trail’s ending and arrived on a long expanse of forgotten asphalt. Grass grew from old cracks that crisscrossed the pavement. This was the ghost of I-95.
The story of the road is well-told (including on NepRWA’s website), but merits mention. In 1967, I-95 was almost extended into Boston. This construction would have paved right over Fowl Meadow, one of the largest expanses of wetlands in the watershed. Commendably, this was stopped by a citizen suit, aided by NepRWA’s precursor, The Neponset Conservation Association. The first few hundred yards of the road had already been partially paved when construction ended, so today the site is a cool place to visit both for its triumphant history and slightly spooky atmosphere.
After exploring the ghost road, I decided to hike through Fowl Meadow to see what had been saved. The end of the ghost road connects to the Burma Road Trail and I hiked the length of this somewhat overgrown and intriguingly untamed footpath.
I took a detour out to the edge of the Neponset and the river was a thin, winding ribbon, with its clear and placid waters reflecting the blue sky overhead. Exiting onto Brush Hill Road, I walked back to my car via Route 138, making the hike into a five mile circuit.
This trip is perfect for anyone interested in the environmental history of Greater Boston and a walk through Fowl Meadow is a nice remote counterpart to some of the more popular hikes in the Blue Hills. Just be sure to check yourself for ticks after walking through the long grasses of Fowl Meadow (I found two).
About the author: Will Reason is a rising Senior at Boston University Academy, who writes about his experiences exploring the Neponset River and its watershed. His series highlights a different area of the watershed with each installment. He hopes to inspire readers to enjoy and help protect this fabulous urban waterway.