It wasn't the first day of summer I went in search of the Solstice Stones in Andover, but close. This surprising arrangement of stones sits atop Holt Hill, part of the Ward Reservation. The stones are said to align with the sunrise on the first day of each season. From this high point on Holt Hill is an awesome view of Boston, the Hancock and Prudential leading the pack of buildings across the horizon.

Center stone, Ward Reservation
Center stone, Ward Reservation

The trails at Ward Reservation are well marked and I chose to follow the red dot trail. From the parking lot I headed south and passed by the entryway to the Bog Trail with the intention of returning there at the end of my walk. Soon I was in a pasture and from there caught my first views of Boston. Leaving the pasture, I entered the woodland and didn't come out of the woods again until I reached Holt Hill. It had rained for several days previous to my walk and some of the trails were quite muddy and I wished I had worn hiking boots instead of sneakers.


About a mile and a half in, I came to a brook so swollen with rain that I had to carry my sneakers and wade through the ankle deep water to continue.

When I reached the paved road I left the red dot trail to follow the yellow dot trail up to Holt Hill, the Solstice Stones and the capped reservoirs. Until this point the trail had been mostly flat but here was a short uphill climb. After taking in the great views from the top, I continued downhill following the yellow dots to a long stairway leading to the Bog Trail, a wood plank trail that passes through the "quaking bog" and ends with a nice view of Pine Hole Pond and on the day I walked, a bullfrog serenade.

There are many trails at the Ward Reservation and a walk much longer than mine could easily be found. If you are looking for a shorter walk the Yellow dot Trail, by itself, takes in both the Solstice Stones and the Bog Trail and is only a mile long. Several hikers/walkers, families and even a walking group passed me along these popular trails.

Ward Reservation walk

  • Date: June 15, 2013
  • Distance: 4.1 miles
  • Weather: cloudless, 72 degrees
  • No pets
  • Liked: views of Boston, Solstice Stones, Quaking Bog
  • Disliked: mud