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Wendy Fox

Wendy Fox

Press Secretary, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)

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We all know how tough it is to convince ourselves to go outside and play on a cold winter day. But with studies linking diminished exposure to sunlight at this time of year with depression and sleep problems, it seems pretty clear that getting outside might be just what the doctor ordered.

There’s ice skating, of course, and snowball fights when precipitation complies, but for sheer non-competitive, feel-good fun, nothing beats a winter hike. Almost any DCR park in the Commonwealth would be a nice place to walk, but here are three great ideas worth considering.

Blue Hills in the winter

Remember to wear shoes or boots appropriate for hiking. Bring water and sunscreen as appropriate.

Wednesday mornings, 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.,Beat the Winter Blues Hike, Harold Parker State Forest, North Andover, 978-686-3391. DCR and the Friends of Harold Parker have joined forces to lead a free hike through this lovely park every Wednesday morning. This winter, they plan to cover all the trails in the park. Meet at the headquarters, 305 Middleton Rd., North Andover and be ready for a beautiful walk.

Sunday, March 28, 7 a.m., Three Peaks Hike, Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, 617-698-1802 ext. 3. Get an early-morning start on fitness and fresh air in the Blue Hills Reservation south of Boston. Try this 3-mile hike with a DCR Ranger up and over some of the most scenic hilltops the Reservation has to offer. It’ll be a fast-paced hike summiting three peaks, should take about two hours, and will finish before most people are even getting up. Just think how virtuous you’ll feel! Meet at the Houghton’s Pond main parking lot, 840 Hillside St., Milton.

Monday, March 29, 6:30 p.m., Full Moon Hike, Middlesex Fells, 617-913-2895. If those morning hikes above aren’t quite what you’re looking for, how about a night-time hike during the March full moon? Head up to Wrights Tower in the Middlesex Fells with a DCR Ranger and take in beautiful moonlit views. The next hike starts in the Bellevue Pond parking lot on South Border Road in Medford. The hike is not difficult and should last just over an hour – and if you can’t make the March hike, there’ll be another one during the April full moon.

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