Walking the Boulevard

A 24/7 path to wellness along Blackstone Boulevard

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I’ve never stayed with a gym membership for very long, so the idea of having access to a safe place to walk is more my speed. According to the American Heart Association, walking is popular because it’s one of the simplest ways to get active – and stay active. Research has shown that walking can have a significant impact on your health by lowering your chances of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes, improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Physical activity can also help with emotional wellbeing. Without worry of cars or even bikes, Blackstone Boulevard offers the perfect location to walk and just be.

Walking is a great way to add physical activity to your life. According to Health.gov, when you first start, walk 10 minutes a day on a few days during the first couple of weeks. Add more time and days, and then walk a little longer. Try 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes. Then walk on more days a week. Pick up the pace. Once this is easy to do, try walking faster. Keep up your brisk walking for a couple of months.

People run, jog, push strollers, but I prefer to walk at a good pace, taking in the unspoiled beauty of the path. I like to begin where Hope meets Blackstone, near Lippitt Memorial Park. The lane always appears in dappled light surrounded by leafy trees and flanked by stone walls. There are views on either side of stately houses, there’s Swan Point Cemetery and the Butler Hospital campus, and the route is a visual scavenger hunt of trees and shrubs. The path is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and on your trek, you’ll pass markers, like the statue of a young girl, or the fieldstone shelter that used to serve as a trolley stop. Along the route there are also benches for sitting or stretching. There’s even a cobbled lost and found box, which reveals that this spot is not only in constant use but also cared for.

The nice thing about the path at Blackstone Boulevard is that it’s always open. There are no fees, scheduled times, or sharing of sweaty equipment. You don’t even need to wear sneakers – although comfortable, supportive footwear is optimal for the path which while maintained, can be uneven and scattered with acorns, crab apples, twigs and leaves. To traverse the entire loop is 4.64 miles, so it’s a nice workout even if you’re taking it slow. This time of year when the foliage is brilliant and there’s a slight chill in the air, walking the Boulevard is a breath of fresh air.

To learn more about the history of the walking path, various projects and ways to help by visiting the Blackstone Parks Conservancy.