Two magical walks in Dorchester
Nov. 2, 2011
We have all looked out from Dorchester across the bay and seen Thompson Island, the nearest island to our neighborhood. You can actually walk to that island. No kidding. It might look like you’d have to walk on water to get there, which the Bible told us that Jesus did, but any of us can walk there on a sand bar from Quincy.
It has to be done at low tide so check the paper for that. You have about 90 minutes, so start about 45 minutes before low tide and be sure to be back by 45 minutes after low tide or your feet will get wet.
Drive across the Neponset River Bridge into Quincy, staying to the left on Route 3A, or Quincy Shore Drive. At the second traffic light turn onto East Quantum Street, going by a marsh on your right. Aptly to us from Dorchester, the road is now named Dorchester Street. Just past where the houses end, you park on the left near the entrance to the Squantum Park. You’ll have gone too far if you reach the gate for the road to Long Island.
You take a short walk through a nice path in the woods that leads to an open field with a great view of downtown Boston. Then take a path to the right for 1/3 of mile down to a beach and you will see the sand bar that reaches across the bay to Thompson Island. As you walk across the sand bar, keep your eyes peeled for pretty rocks or shells to collect to put in your garden to remind you of this walk.
Now Thompson Island is owned by a non-profit and you aren’t supposed to enter it without permission. But if you continue around to the left on the top of the island on its shore line, you will come to a beautiful lagoon and breathtaking views of the city skyline.
Another magic path goes through the Neponset Marshes. You can get near to that along the bike path from Granite Avenue back to the Butler trolley stop on the Mattapan High Speed Trolley line that leaves from Ashmont MBTA Station.
For the actual magical path into the marshes, go to the Butler Street stop and take the ramp up on the far side of the station that puts you next to an apartment building. Go to that corner and go left on Bearse Avenue. At the end of the street you’ll see a locked gate. When you reach that, go to your left in front of the fence and there’s a path under overhanging trees between the fence and the last house on the left of the street. You shortly come up to the trolley tracks. Then go right again for 20 yards, then right again on a short path between the woods and you are now back behind the locked gate you came to at the end of the street. Now go to your left and there’s dirt road that goes right through the middle of the Neponset Marshes and in a 1/2 mile you come to the Neponset River.
Reeds grow on both sides of the road and channels that are fill or not based on the tides. Many birds make their homes here or stop on their migration paths. I once was visited on this walk by the so-called Bird Man of the Neponset Marshes who cares for this place. He worried that “we may love this place to death” if we visit and don’t take care of it. He’d probably be displeased that I’m telling you about this path, so do take care if you go there.
I would like to tell you also about the magical path at the far end of Peddocks Island in Boston Harbor that would be true to the Elvish lands in Tolkein’s Middle Earth, but I will stop now. Please write in to the Dorchester Reporter with your own magical paths and walks in and around Dorchester.
Lew Finfer is a Dorchester resident.