Interview with Blue Hills’ hiker, Michelle DeVivo
By Julia Lynne Milot, Friends of the Blue Hills Intern

Michelle Devivo is new to the Boston area, and has always had a passion for hiking and the outdoors. She hopes to hike all 125-miles of trail in the Blue Hills someday, and she documents her journey through Instagram (@trail_less_traveled_).  

If you’re a hiker who wants to explore the Blue Hills, join the 125-Mile Club to challenge yourself to explore all 125 miles of trails in the Blue Hills.  Learn more!

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background? You just moved here from Connecticut right?

Yes! I moved up to Massachusetts in August for work, so I’m new to the area. I mean, I’ve been to Boston a bunch of times. But I haven’t really explored anywhere outside of Boston. And I’ve always been a huge hiker, I’ve loved it since I was a little kid. One day after the move I just decided to start exploring different areas and trails, and through the Appalachian Mountain Club I found the Blue Hills. Since then I’ve just been going back there pretty much every weekend to go hiking! I like to explore new areas of course, but I really love to find that one good spot that I can always conquer and go back to.


I’m glad you’ve been getting out to explore the areas around Boston. It’s really such a diverse landscape. You’ve been hiking since you were young, did you get into that for any specific reason?

Yeah, I grew up with this really strong love of nature. My family lived in a really rural part of Connecticut, and our backyard was just basically woods. So my Dad would bring me out exploring in the forest, and we’d find all sorts of different trails and things. It’s always been something I’ve felt really passionate about, and over the years it’s just become more important to me. Especially over the pandemic when the gym shut down, I’m very big into health and fitness, so hiking became a real outlet for me to clear my head. I’ve always loved hiking because it’s a great way to meet people too, and it’s really great for your mind and body. 

I had the same experience over the pandemic, really getting back into hiking and grounding yourself in nature. It was the best escape. Do you find that there’s a specific place in the Blue Hills that you have a connection to? Or like we talked about earlier, that you find yourself coming back to over and over?

I really like Ponkapoag Pond, because I camped there on my birthday weekend, in the cabins over in that area. And I’ve been back there like two more times since I stayed over there. It was my first camping experience in Massachusetts, and I just found it so quiet and peaceful down by the water. It wasn’t as populated as the Skyline Trail or Buck Hill. I love all of the Blue Hills but it really did feel a little more off the beaten path. So that holds a special place in my heart, being the first place I camped in the state and spending my birthday weekend there. It was very serene to walk around and explore. 

That’s so sweet that you got to spend your birthday camping! It sounds like the ideal birthday!

Yeah, and it was also very memorable because besides being my birthday weekend, we got a freak thunderstorm in the middle of our camping experience! So a bunch of us had gone to the restrooms and we were heading up the hill, when all of a sudden I saw a flash of lightning. I was like, “Guys this doesn’t look good!” And then the sky opened up, and the thunder started rumbling, so we all huddled up underneath this pavilion, trying to make our little campfires. There were like tornado warnings and the wind was blowing and we were like, “Well this is a memorable experience!” It eventually passed just as quickly as it came, and we all laughed about it afterwards. But at the time I remember all of us being like, “What do we even do!”

Explore the Park!  Sign up for the 125-Mile Club.

That’s so funny and definitely makes for an interesting story! I’m glad you guys made the best of it. Definitely an interesting moment on the trails! What would you say your best moment at the Blue Hills is? Just like one of your favorite moments, it can be anywhere.  

I think for me, it would probably be the first time I climbed Buck Hill and made it to the top to see the view. I used to be very overweight, about 300lbs, and part of my journey with hiking has also been a really important health journey as well. I remember the first time I climbed any sort of mountain I had to keep stopping over and over to catch my breath, just because I had so much weight on me. So I remember the first time I climbed Buck Hill, I’d dropped the weight but I was still really nervous. I remember thinking “Can I climb all the way up this hill and not have to keep stopping to take breaks? Will I make it all the way there?” And I remember making it to the top and thinking, “Oh that’s it?” I just felt proud of myself. I kept thinking “I did it.” It was just a really surreal moment for me. I had a lot of anxiety beforehand, I was worried I was going to have to turn around. So that was a very memorable and important for me, I had my little celebratory moment. Everyone was like “Why are you smiling so much?” and I was like “Oh, just didn’t have to stop, I didn’t have to catch my breath,” so yeah. That was probably the most awesome moment. And the view from the top was just amazing. 

That’s so awesome, you conquered that trail! When you get to the top it’s always such an amazing feeling. So going off that, what would you say about people who are thinking about getting into hiking or want to visit the Blue Hills, but haven’t yet? 

I’d say if you want to get into hiking, it’s such a welcoming community. Don’t be afraid to go out and try it. Nature is for everyone, and no matter your shape, size, or color of your skin, it’s just an incredibly welcoming place. All you really have to do is put one foot in front of the other. It’s a good way to experience the world, and to step away from the chaos that’s been currently happening. I’d say don’t be scared. Just bring bug spray and plenty of water and you’ll be fine. It’s so rewarding on so many different levels, climbing mountains you didn’t think you’d be able to climb. Literally and figuratively. It just brings such peace to your mind and your soul. It’s definitely brought me peace. And hiking in the Blue Hills, I’d say it’s got a little something for everybody. It’s got challenging trails if you’re really looking to push yourself, I don’t know how many times I’ve been on the Skyline Trail where I’m like “I don’t know if I can do this today” but then I get to the end and I’m like “Oh, that was awesome, that was so rewarding.” But there’s also those flat parts by Ponkapoag Pond near the water, an easy quiet go around. So if you want something less intense you still are able to get out and experience nature. The versatility of the Blue Hills is what makes it so unique and great, it’s just such an accessible place for so many people. 

Is that why you think it’s so important to have a place like the Blue Hills?

Yes, and I truly think nature is just so important. Especially because it’s so close to Boston. Having access to greenspace really has done wonders for my mental and physical health. I think it really just grounds you and reminds you that the uproar in the world isn’t all there is, you can really just go and quiet your mind. It allows you to really take a break and a step back from whatever else is going on. A lot of people I’ve spoken to, that’s why they hike. And that’s why I love the Blue Hills. It helps me reconnect with nature even though I live in a city where things are always moving so fast all the time. 

I totally get that and I feel the same way. Thank you so much Michelle for speaking with me today!