Quincy, Mass – I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the opening of school is delayed by a few weeks, so the teachers and staff can figure out how to do “remote schooling”. I fear the twins may not set foot in a school building this year. The good news is that we have a few more weeks of summer vacation, which means time to squeeze in a few more pandemic field trips. Today I took the twins (and their friend) to explore Quincy Quarries Reservation, a state park just 10 miles south of Boston (22 minutes from our house!).
I have wanted to bring the twins here ever since they become somewhat regulars at Brooklyn Boulders. Unfortunately, we don’t have the equipment or the skills to do actual rock climbing with ropes and belays, but there was no shortage of opportunities for free climbing and exploring.
Quincy Quarries is an intriguing place. It was a granite quarry for more than a century, providing the granite for notable landmarks like King’s Chapel and the Bunker Hill Monument (and other sites further afield). The quarries closed in 1968, eventually filling with rainwater and groundwater. As such, they were a popular spot for swimming and diving, which sounds super fun but… dangerous! Apparently more than a few people died doing just that. Quincy Quarries was also the setting for a gut-wrenching scene in the movie Gone Baby, Gone.
Fortunately, we had no such drama during our visit to Quincy Quarries. (It helps that we went during daylight hours!)
Due to the danger factor, most of the quarries were filled in with earth from the famous Central Artery / Tunnel Project, better known as the Big Dig, the massive construction and redevelopment project that took place in Boston from 1991 to 2006. Quincy Quarries became a destination for rock climbers and graffiti artists, who have transformed the place into a super cool, offbeat destination for a pandemic field trip.
We had a blast climbing around all the different granite outcroppings, exploring trails, and peeking over precarious ledges. There are still plenty of scary drop-offs and rather treacherous passageways. It would definitely be stressful for a nervous parent, but I am pretty confident about my kids’ risk assessment skills (which didn’t stop me from reminding them to be careful pretty much constantly the entire time we were there).
We also loved the public art, aka graffiti, which now decorates every corner of rock. Political commentary was rife (Apparently some people around here are not fond of President Trump…?!). But our favorites were the more wacky and whimsical pieces. The whole place is suprisingly photogenic. A bonus is the lovely Boston city skyline view from the northernmost “cliff”, captured here by a local artist.
Quincy Quarries Reservation is bigger than this area, with hiking trails that hook up to the nearby Blue Hills Reservation, but we did not venture too far. We also did not see any serious rock climbers on our mid-week visit. (Our friends have come on Saturdays and there are always climbers scaling the granite walls.) As such, this was not an all-day affair. Our tour around the granite cliffs took an hour or so. We ate our picnic lunch and enjoyed the view from atop a rocky perch. Then after some limited investigation away from the main climbing area, it was time to go.
But we will be back! Quincy Quarries Reservation is not your typical state park, but it’s a unique, easy-to-reach destination for some fun outside time.