After circling much of Boston Harbor on foot this summer, following various pieces of the Harborwalk, we finally got on a ferry on Monday and headed out to the Harbor Islands. I had a day free, which was perfect timing given Monday's forecasted fair skies after an intermittently cloudy/rainy weekend. We decided not to try to fit in more than one island visit in the day and picked Spectacle Island, which boasts a cafe, a visitor's center, a beach, 5 miles of hiking trails and panoramic views of the harbor and the city from the highest point. It also has a pretty interesting history -- from its origins as two small drumlins connected by a spit of land (hence the name "Spectacle" for its shape like spectacles, though the spit was later filled in), its earliest use by Native Americans for fishing and camping, use by early Europeans as a smallpox quarantine, a site for hotels (later shut down for gambling), then site of a horse rendering plant followed by a trash incinerator and eventually, forgoing incineration, a place to dump trash (until it reportedly swallowed a bulldozer). It was finally cleaned up, capped off with clay from Boston's Big Dig project, and opened as a recreational area in 2006. It's come a long way.
The ferry only took about 20 minutes to get out to the island, then we had almost 3 hours until our scheduled ride back (ferries leave on the hour). We grabbed a sandwich in the cafe, then trekked to the top of the North Drumlin to take in the views, which included Boston, Castle Island and Fort Independence in South Boston, Logan airport, and the nearby islands Thompson Island, Long Island and its bridge from Moon Island. The summit seemed to be inhabited primarily by red-winged black birds (I didn't even try to get a shot of them, but D got a remarkably sharp one - his efforts well paid off).
We walked back to port by way of the west side of island, which has a seawall in place of the beach on the eastern side. It was all lovely, although we were wishing we'd worn hats to protect us from the sun. It was comfortably breezy and dry, but apart from a couple of shade shelters and an occasional pine tree, there wasn't much protection from the sun.
When we got back to the Visitor Center, we had time to rest in the Adirondack chairs on the porch a bit before our ferry arrived to take us back to the city. We stopped for a nice bowl of chowder and a cool beer/wine at Legal Seafood on Long Wharf to top off the day.
Here's the photo set from the ferry ride and the island.