Boston National Historical Park: Freedom Trail


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

The Freedom Trail runs through Boston and Charlestown in the Boston National Historical Park. It is a 2.5 mile red brick path running past a collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers, most from the American Revolutionary period. There are 16 official stops on the trail with plenty to see in between.

We were in Boston for a long weekend for a U2 concert and found ourselves following the freedom trail over the course of a few days in our travels. The red brick path made it pretty hard to get lost in town.


While waiting for a table in Boston’s North End, we followed the path up the block and used the half-hour wait time to explore the Old North Church. This was the launch point for Paul Revere’s ride. Because its steeple is the tallest in Boston, patriots in Charlestown were warned that the British were advancing across the Charles River by the appearance of two lanterns shining from the highest point.


We followed the Freedom Trail behind the church, through Paul Revere mall, to his statue in front of St. Stephen’s. Then it was time to hurry back to the restaurant for some good Italian food.


We had lunch at Quincy Market one day and afterwards walked over to Faneuil Hall.  Faneuil Hall is an official stop on the Freedom Trail because it is considered the birthplace of free speech. It is the site of America’s first Town Hall meeting and continued in this capacity for over two centuries. Did you know that new American citizens are still sworn in here? I didn’t, not even after going inside, because what greeted us on the ground floor was the cacophony of dozens of food and other merchant stalls surrounded by throngs of tourists. We went downstairs to where the visitor center was supposed to be, but all we saw were a few placards and public restrooms. I see now on the website that it is undergoing renovation, so maybe it will be worth the stop when it’s done.


We also picked up parts of the trail by riding a hop on, hop off sightseeing bus. Our bus pass included admittance to the Boston Tea Party Museum. This is not part of the National Park, nor is it on the Freedom Trail, but it is an excellent re-enactment of the catalyst for the American Revolution.


When you enter the museum, you are assigned the role of a person who lived in Boston in the 1700s and attend a meeting where you are incited to rebel against ‘Taxation Without Representation’ by an actor in costume. You are then led through various aspects of the conflict, moving through the building and out onto the docks, culminating with boarding the reconstructed ships and throwing fake tea over the side like the angry revolutionary you are. Sounds hokey, but really it was fun…grade-A edutainment!


After the Tea Party, we walked back to the Freedom Trail and over to Kings Chapel, an Anglican Church ordered by the king in the late 1600s. No one would sell land to build a non-Puritan church, so the King ordered it built on the city’s burial grounds.


There’s a statue of Benjamin Franklin next door. Though we usually associate him with Philadelphia and his role in the birth of democracy there, he was actually born and raised in Boston.


Finally, we headed towards the Boston Common. On the way we passed the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. The distinctive dome has been many things: originally wood, then plated in copper by Paul Revere, covered in gold leaf in the 1800s, painted grey during WWII and then gilded again. It is the oldest building on Beacon Hill and the State government still conducts its business there.


Boston Common is America’s oldest public park, dating back to the 1600s.



We loved the “Make Way For Ducklings’ sculpture. I read that story many times to my daughter when she was little.


You can see my other posts on Freedom Trail sites by clicking Charlestown Naval Yard or Bunker Hill Monument.

We passed through Winthrop Square while walking the trail between the Navy Yard and Bunker Hill. Winthrop Square is a small park and was the site of colonial militia training grounds.


Location: Boston & Charlestown, MA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 1975

Date of my visit: 7/15/2015


Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Cades Cove


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Cades Cove is a valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The valley was home to numerous settlers and many historic buildings, dating back to the 1800s,  are open to visitors along the 11-mile, one-way park loop road.


This section was the farthest section of the park from our Gatlinburg hotel, so we set off early in the morning, planning to spend the day there.


Our first stop was to Cades Coves stables, an official park concessioner that runs hay rides on the loop road. We were hoping to take one of those rides, but the timing just didn’t work out. Instead, we opted to take a horse-drawn carriage ride.  For about 45 minutes, our driver wound through the wooded park trails, entertaining us with the history of Cades Cove. We saw several deer.


Back at the corral, he pointed put some of the horses roaming free in the fields. One was blind and always ran with the same horse so he’d know where he was going. It was touching to see how the two looked out for eachother.


Next we explored the loop road. Though only 11 miles long, this requires several hours.


There are a lot of other motorists on this road who don’t seem to know they should pull over when they see something they want to take a picture of.


We’d picked up the self-guided tour booklet at the entrance and stopped in a few places to go inside log cabins, old churches and walk a short trail or two.


The last stop on the return side of the loop is the visitors center with a few old buildings to explore and a working grist mill. You can buy the corn meal they produce at the store.


You can see my other posts for Great Smoky Mountain NP by clicking on these links:

Clingman’s Dome

Location: Cades Cove, TN

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 9/02/1940

Date of my visit: August 2013





Glacier National Park: Running Eagle Falls


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


We spent our first day in Glacier National Park exploring the Two Medicine area. We started out early and made the pleasant drive across Route 2 from Columbia Falls to East Glacier. The Two Medicine entrance to the park is about 15 minutes north of East Glacier.


Just before the main parking lot at the lake is a smaller lot on the right for Running Eagle Falls. This is a great place to start as the trail to the falls is flat and less than a mile round-trip. At 8:30 in the morning, we were the first car in the lot.


The trail begins as a woodland trail, dotted with wildflowers. In no time, we were standing on the banks of the pristine Two Medicine Creek with the sound of the falls roaring nearby. Since we were there early in the season, the snow was still melting and the creek looked more like a river.


We encountered a local couple on the trail who said they visit Running Eagle often. They said that in late summer, when there is less water, it shoots out of the side of the mountain instead of falling over the ledge. When we looked more closely it seemed to be doing both.


The falls are named for Running Eagle who was a female Pikuni warrior in the 1700s. Traditionally, only men fasted and went on vision quests. Nevertheless, Running Eagle persisted and ‘found her medicine’ above the falls. She went on to become an influential and legendary leader of her people.


She was killed leading a raid in Flathead territory when she was 30. She was buried in a tree overlooking the falls by her people. This is a sacred place.


To see my other Glacier NP/Two Medicine Posts, click the following links:

  • Running Eagle Falls
  • Aster Park
  • Two Medicine Lake
  • Twin Falls

Location: 2 Medicine Rd, East Glacier Park, Mt 59434

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 5/11/1910

Date of my visit: 6/23/2018


Bar Harbor Shore Path

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The Shore Path is just outside Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor. It is maintained by the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association in conjunction with the homeowners who have houses adjacent to the path. It is over a century old.
On my previous visits to Bar Harbor, I’d stayed outside town and so hadn’t walked this short trail. In 2015, we stayed at the Harborside Hotel right on West Street in downtown Bar Harbor.
We enjoyed our stay here. We had a family suite that included a semi-private room for my daughter with bunk beds and a playstation. Once we got through the annoying Bar Harbor traffic to our hotel, we parked the car and left it in their lot for the most part.
The convenient location of the hotel puts most of what you want to do, or shuttles to what you want to do, in walking distance. The land bridge to Bar Island is right behind the hotel’s spa. You can read about this in one of my previous posts (links at the bottom of this post.)
The Shore Path starts about a block away, behind the Bar Harbor Inn. It runs along Frenchman Bay with calming views of the boats and small islands in the harbor in clear weather.

It’s a nice walk of about 1/2 a mile. One foggy evening, the tide was out so we added some cairns to the ones others had built on the shore. It’s not a loop, so we cut over on a path to Main Street and walked back through the town.



You can see my other Acadia National Park Posts by clicking on the links: Park Loop Road, Jordan Pond and The Bubbles, Bar Island , Schoodic & The Waters off Acadia

Location: Mount Desert Island

Designation: Historic Path, maintained by non-profit organization

Date designation declared: 1880

Date of my visit: August 2015


Independence NHP: Liberty Bell



Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Happy 4th of July!

Growing up in the NYC public school system, one of our rites of passage was the class trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. I don’t remember much about that trip besides horsing around with my friends on the bus and touching the actual Liberty Bell with my grubby 4th grade hands!

That’s right, they let 9 year olds, or anyone else who wanted to, touch the 200 year old symbol of America. Maybe we weren’t supposed to, but there really wasn’t any way to prevent it. Years later, this proved problematic when a crazed tourist attacked the bell with a hammer. We just can’t have nice things…

And so, in 2003, the bell was moved to its new home in the shiny new Liberty Bell Pavilion, across the street from Independence Hall. The pavilion is a block-long building dedicated to the Liberty Bell and its long and interesting history. It is very crowded and you will have to go through airport-type security to get inside,  but there is no entry fee or reservations required. It is best to go first thing in the morning, when it opens.


Exhibits from different periods of the bell’s history line the walls of the long building leading to the bell at the far end. Most know the bell as a symbol of the American Revolution, but it has been a symbol of freedom for us in many other conflicts throughout our history.


From ringing in the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, to cracking down the middle, to symbolizing the abolitionist movement during the Civil War, etcetera….this bell has seen and done a lot! There is a film in the exhibit just before the bell that I recommend watching… it’s very informative, and our friends from France who were touring with us enjoyed it very much.


The bell itself is not encased in glass, but it is behind a railing with security standing guard in case you managed to sneak your hammer past the xray machine.  You’ll have to be somewhat aggressive if you want a photo with the bell…there are a lot of tourists trying for the same shot with the famous crack. If you are lucky enough to get there before the selfie hordes, you may be able to capture the bell with Independence Hall in the background.


So snap away, do not touch and “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”

Location: N 6th St & Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Designation: National Historical Park

Date NPS designation declared: 1951

Date of my visit: August 2017


Flathead National Forest-Whitefish Mountain


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


The Flathead National Forest covers over 2.4 million acres of which about 1 million acres is designated wilderness. Pinchot, the first chief of the US Forest Service, promoted ‘managed conservation’ (rather than preservation like the NPS) for our public lands, allowing for responsible, partial commercial use of National Forests.


The 1.4 million acres of Flathead National forest which are not designated a wilderness area are used for two ski resorts, logging, limited berry harvesting and cattle grazing.


Our flight landed in Kalispell, Montana in the early afternoon. Not quite ready to take on Glacier National Park, we headed over to Whitefish Mountain Resort. Whitefish Mountain Resort is inside the boundaries of Flathead National Forest, which shares its Northern border with Glacier National Park.



We rode the ski lift to the Summit House. We had a choice of open chair lifts or enclosed gondolas. We opted for the open chair…photo opps always take precedence over being warm. It was 57 degrees Fahrenheit and windy at the summit.


The Summit House opened in 1990 and houses a nature center with a Forest Service Education Center in the basement. We stopped in the gift shop for a souvenir pin.


Outside, we took in the views of the surrounding Rockies and Flathead Valley. There was still quite a bit of snow, even in late June. We walked a little on some of the clear trails at the top, enjoying the smell of pine that wafted in the air.


We’d intended to hike the Danny On trail back down to the lodge, but it was closed due to snowy conditions. The Danny On Memorial Trail is a National Recreation Trail, with the shortest route to the base lodge being 3.9 steep miles. This is why the trail is closed when ice and snow are present.


So we improvised and took the chair lift halfway down the mountain. The best views were on the lift ride down the mountain. Then we rode the alpine sled back down to the lodge.


Location: 3808 Big Mountain Rd, Whitefish, MT 59937, USA

Designation: National Forest

Date designation declared: 2/27/1897

Date of my visit: 6/22/2018


Crater Lake National Park: Lodge and Sinnott Memorial Observation Station


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

7,700 years ago,  Mount Mazama (an ancient volcano) collapsed forming Crater Lake in its caldera. This is an amazing sight to see today…in my opinion, it is just as impressive as the Grand Canyon, though not as vast.


Because I looked online about 11 months ahead of our trip, I was too late to secure lodging in the park. So our experience at the Crater Lake Lodge was limited to the lobby, front desk, patio and dining room. The no-frill rooms only sleep two people so we needed two rooms for our family and we didn’t book far enough in advance to get the two rooms for the time we wanted (reservations open up 13 months in advance and sell out quickly.)

So that left us with only one day to explore this park. While we did make the most of our day, with a hike to Garfield Peak in the AM (see my post on Garfield Peak here) and a Rim Road Trolley tour in the afternoon (coming in a future post) we would also have liked to take the boat tour to Wizard Island and explored some other areas of the park, like the Pinnacles. You really need at least two days here to experience this park.


Crater Lake Lodge was built in 1915 and is located on the southwest rim of the Crater Lake caldera. Perched on a cliff, 1000 feet above the lake below, it boasts some wonderful views. The patio has rocking chairs where you can sit and take in the stunning scenery.

We stopped in and asked for directions and advice at the front desk before embarking on our morning’s hike. The woman at the front desk was very helpful in answering our questions about the trails.

The common areas are beautiful, vintage and inviting. We relaxed by the fireplace after our hike to Garfield Peak while we waited for the restaurant to open for lunch.

With some time to kill before boarding our trolley for the Rim Tour, we explored the other buildings in the village, taking the stairs behind the Visitors Center down to the Sinnott Memorial Overlook.


The Sinnott Memorial Observation Station is built into an outcropping on the cliff face of the caldera wall. It was built in 1931 and was the first NPS building constructed as a museum. Its stone masonry design set the architectural standard for future buildings at Crater Lake National Park.


The viewing area has an open-air balcony with a spectacular view of the lake, and you are 50 feet below the rim, so the view is a little different than what you can see on the balcony of the lodge.  The museum exhibits, which highlight the history of Mount Mazama and the formation of Crater Lake, are located in the center of the observation room and around the walls.


Back in the village, at the conclusion of our trolley tour. We stopped in the Community Center building for some Ranger-led crafts and free cookies in celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.

Location: Crater Lake, OR

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 5/22/1902

Date of my visit: 8/25/2016