Franklin Park Events & Activities
November 14, 2013

I sometimes find myself telling visitors, as well as friends, that Franklin Park is more than just a setting for the zoo. As wonderful as the zoo certainly is, the 527-acre area, which Frederick Law Olmsted called a “country park” when he designed it more than 100 years ago, is the largest park in the Emerald Necklace and there's plenty to do there.

The nonprofit Franklin Park Coalition’s mission includes working for park improvements, hiring neighborhood youths for summer jobs, recruiting volunteers to restore the park’s 220-acre forest, and leading park walks, history tours, and nature programs, all aimed to encourage people to discover the park’s treasures. The group organizes all sorts of events to further that mission. A couple of upcoming ones offer some great opportunities to explore the park in perhaps new ways.

On Saturday, November 23 from 10 a.m. to noon, a fall leaf raking gathering is planned, assuming the weather cooperates. Participants are asked to bring gloves and rakes if they have them (they aren’t required; some will be supplied) and all ages are welcome, as is jumping in leaf piles. Hot chocolate will also be supplied.

On Thursday, November 28, a 5K Turkey Trot, the first ever at the park, will be held before anyone sits down to their Thanksgiving feast. The run starts at 9 a.m. from the Franklin Park Golf Clubhouse and includes prizes for fast finishers and costumed runners. The 3.1-mile route, which participants can run or walk, goes through some of the most beautiful and historic views of the park.

The entrance fees ($25 for adults; $10 for kids) go to support the Franklin Park Coalition’s Youth Conservation Crew program, which provides summer jobs for 20 neighborhood teens and their young adult leaders. Projects they work on include restoring trails and woodlands and running Thursday Sports Nights, which provides fun and games for hundreds of local children. Register in advance online here.

Fun Facts About Frankin Park

  • It was named for Benjamin Franklin.
  • The park has six miles of roads and 15 miles of pedestrian and bridle paths.
  • There’s a premier cross-country track which has been used continuously since 1914.
  • The 65-acre forest at the park is called The Wilderness.
  • The 99 Steps are made of native Roxbury Puddingstone and curve in different directions. People say no one ever gets 99 when they count.
  • There are beautiful stone carvings of bears at the Bear Dens in Long Crouch Woods, which was one of the first zoo exhibits when it opened in 1912.
  • Scarboro Pond is supplied with water from underground pipes leading from Jamaica Pond.
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