Minute Man National Historical Park | FISKE HILL LOOP TRAIL

Western trailhead of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail at Minute Man National Historical Park

Western trailhead of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail at Minute Man National Historical Park


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Length: .8-mile loop
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Mainly easy, but there are two mild hills to climb

The Fiske Hill Loop Trail is located at the very eastern end of the Battle Road Unit of Minute Man National Historical Park in an area known as Fiske Hill. In the running battle between Patriot militiamen and British soldiers that began at Meriam’s Corner around 12:30 PM on April 19, 1775, this is the area where the British were out of patience and nearly out of ammunition. By the time the fighting reached the hill at 1:40 PM, it was every man for himself, and the soldiers took off running back to Boston. The Patriot militia numbers had risen from 400 at the North Bridge to 1,600 at Fiske Hill, while the number of British soldiers, 700 at the North Bridge, had been whittled down by deaths and injuries.

There are two parking lots for the Fiske Hill Loop Trail. I used the one on Old Massachusetts Avenue near the corner of Route 2A. The other is the Ebenezer Fiske House Site parking lot, which is near the corner of Old Massachusetts Avenue and Wood Street. In either instance, you start the hike on a short connector that leads to the loop portion of the trail.

The Minute Man National Historical Park brochure map makes it look like the trail forms a loop by connecting to the Battle Road Trail, but that’s just because the map is too small to show any detail. In reality, the Fiske Hill Loop Trail is its own self-contained trail. Also, it is for hikers only, so if you are riding your bike, you must either leave it at the trailhead or push it along the trail with you.

Fiske Hill Loop Trail Map (click to enlarge)

Fiske Hill Loop Trail Map (click to enlarge)

Most of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail runs through the forest, and though there are a few stretches out in the open, you won’t encounter enough sunshine to warrant applying sunscreen even on a nice day. Insect repellent, on the other hand, might not be a bad idea. A sign at the beginning of the trail warns that this is deer tick habitat, so check the fronts of your legs every few minutes. Ticks live in vegetation low to the ground and usually attach themselves to the front of your lower legs. If you are wearing shorts, it only takes them a few minutes to crawl up to your crotch, so you need to catch them before they disappear into that area. They can also reach your hair within a few more minutes. For the record, I did not pick up any on my hike.

From the parking lot near Route 2A, a path as wide as a road leads to the loop. On the way you will pass a fork to the right, so just ignore it. This cuts over to Route 2A. There are two hotels there, so I assume it is a way for guests to access the trail if they want some exercise.

West-side connector trail to the loop portion of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail at Minute Man National Historical Park

West-side connector trail to the loop portion of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail at Minute Man National Historical Park

At the start of the loop is a sign stating distances to various destinations. I took a right and hiked in a counterclockwise direction. The trail proceeds through the forest on a narrow path.

Southwest section of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail at Minute Man National Historical Park

Southwest section of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail at Minute Man National Historical Park

Where the trail meets an open field, the National Park Service mows a swath through the tall grass. I’ve been on similar trails where it appeared that the lawn mower must have been broken, so if you find yourself wading through waist-high grass, make a thorough check for ticks because this is where they like to live. The grass was short when I visited.

Open field on the south side of the Fisk Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park

Open field on the south side of the Fisk Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park

As you proceed east, there are two intersections with trails on your left. The first comes just as you enter the open field and the second just after returning back into the forest. Both cut over to the other side of the loop, making it possible to do a shorter hike. Since the main Fiske Hill loop isn’t even a mile long, I don’t see any sense in shortening things, so skip past both of these.

From nearly the start of the hike, the trail climbs a gradual hill, one of two that you will encounter. At the top of the first hill—which is at the second cut-through trail—is a stone wall that was once used as a fence. Such fences marked property lines or kept livestock out of the crops, so whenever you see one, you know that you are standing on what was once farmland. In the 1700s and up through most of the 1800s, this entire area was similar to the field you just passed through. Most of the trees did not exist.

Rock wall along the southern half of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park

Rock wall along the southern half of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park

The Fiske Hill Loop Trail heads downhill starting at the stone fence, and shortly thereafter you will come to a Y-shaped intersection. A right takes you to the Fiske House Site parking lot, so stay left to continue the hike.

Intersection of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail and the connector to the east-side parking lot at the Fiske House Site, Minute Man National Historical Park

Intersection of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail and the connector to the east-side parking lot at the Fiske House Site, Minute Man National Historical Park

As the Fiske Hill Loop Trail curves to the north it begins running right along Old Massachusetts Avenue. This also begins the climb up the second hill, and this one got me a little winded. It is not steep by any standards, but by this point in the day I had been hiking and biking for eight hours.

Eastern side of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park runs along Old Massachusetts Avenue

Eastern side of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park runs along Old Massachusetts Avenue

The top of the hill is at the intersection with the eastern cut-through trail. As on the south side of the loop, skip past this and the next cut-through trail intersection just up ahead.

The last part of the trail on the northwest side of the loop passes once again through open terrain, though it is often flanked by the forest. Depending on the angle of the sun, you may still have some shade. Once back at the start of the loop, turn right to return to the parking lot.

Open terrain on the northwest side of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park

Open terrain on the northwest side of the Fiske Hill Loop Trail in Minute Man National Historical Park

Of the three traditional hiking trails within Minute Man National Historical Park, the others being the Vernal Pool and Minute Man trails, the Fiske Hill Loop Trail is the only one worth hiking, and that’s only because you can see what the battlefield terrain was like. However, there is nothing of historical significance to see, and if you are just looking for exercise, stick to the 4.9-mile Battle Road Trail. It is an enjoyable hike through lovely terrain that passes at least a dozen historical sites along the way.

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Last updated on September 4, 2023
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