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By Mary Lhowe
Sunset is a glorious moment in the natural world, and it belongs to everyone. Pack a picnic dinner (or not) and set your bearings for these Massachusetts outposts to see a magnificent sunset.
Martha’s Vineyard – Menemsha Hills in Chilmark
Prospect Hill, part of the 200-acre Menemsha Hills Reservation, offers three miles of moderate trails to get you out to the second-highest (and westward-facing) peak on Martha’s Vineyard. Enjoy glorious ocean views before the show of sunset begins. If you have the equipment, this is a good place for surfcasting. Take drinking water and a picnic to enjoy under the last rays of the day. Map. Ferries to Martha’s Vineyard.
Cape Cod — Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown
Herring Cove beach, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, is at the tip of the extreme curve of Cape Cod, resulting in its facing west – for super-dramatic sunset viewing. One mile from Provincetown, the beach also is loved for its gentle surf for swimming and occasional views of whales moving about in the distance. Dune hiking takes some energy, but it is easy to drive to this beach. A visit here is a free performance to close out a day in Provincetown. Map.
Berkshires – Mount Greylock in Lanesborough
Mount Greylock, the peak of Mount Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough, in the northwestern Berkshires, rises 3,500 feet above sea level. As the highest point in Massachusetts, with views as far as 90 miles away, this is a place to enjoy sunsets from a sweet meadow of wildflowers. A eautiful drive that climbs up, up, up through forest takes visitors to the peak, where the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower is situated. Besides the wonderful views, the property has abundant hiking trails, along with food and lodging at Bascom Lodge. Map.
North of Boston – Amesbury Riverwalk
Just a bit northeast of the town of Newburyport, itself on the mouth of the Merrimack River, Amesbury hosts a walking and bicycling trail known as the Amesbury Riverwalk, overlooking the Powwow River. Situated on a former railroad bed, the walk connects Upper Millyard and Market Square to the Carriagetown Marketplace, all indicators that you might find a snack or a beverage as you are settling in to watch a sunset over this ecologically rich tidal water body. Map.
Berkshires — Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway / Route 2
The Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway, following a historic path used by the Mohawk tribe, travels east to west, from Greenfield to Williamstown. This is a beautiful, rural, mountainous part of the state. Route 2 takes a hair-raising hairpin turn just east of North Adams. At that spot, the parking area of the Golden Eagle restaurant affords a place to stop and see views of mountains including Mount Greylock, Mount Prospect and Mount Williams. Mountain-rimmed sunsets are memorable. Map.
Boston area — Blue Hills Skyline Trail
Just a little south of Boston, the Blue Hills Reservation covers 7,000 acres of open space; its 125 miles of trails weave through forest and wetlands. Views of Boston are excellent from the Skyline Trail, and the sunset is a winner. To get there: From Boston, take I-93 south. Continue past the intersection with Route 3, and take exit 5. Take right at the end of ramp on Route 28 North. 617-698-1802. Map.
South of Boston — Humarock near Marshfield and Scituate
Humarock is a barrier beach that was once part of the mainland near Scituate, but was cut off by movement of water during a 19th-century hurricane. The long, narrow peninsula is now connected to the mainland by two bridges. The position of the peninsula allows people to enjoy sunrise above Humarock Beach, and sunsets over the South River and marshlands. The community on the barrier beach is very summer fun-oriented, welcoming people to walk the beach and stop at local snack places. Near the south end of the peninsula you can enjoy glorious views over a tidal marsh meadow at South River marsh. Map.