The Blue Hills were so named by early European explorers who, while sailing along the coastline, noticed the bluish hue on the slopes when viewed from a distance. More than ten thousand years before those Europeans arrived, Native Americans made their home in the hills. The Natives referred to themselves as Massachusett, or "people of the great hills". Eventually the Europeans began settling in this region. The colonists built houses and barns, cleared fields for crops and livestock and logged the hillsides for lumber.
In 1893, the Metropolitan Parks Commission purchased the lands of Blue Hills Reservation as one of the first areas set aside for public recreation. Today, the reservation is rich in both archaeological and historic resources. Sixteen historic structures listed on the National Register tell the fascinating tales of Native Americans, explorers, farmers, quarry workers and inventors. Additionally the Blue Hills Weather Observatory, a National Historic Landmark, sits atop Great Blue Hill, as a crowning feature.
The living treasures of the Blue Hills include flora, fauna and natural phenomena - from coyotes to copperheads, dogwoods to lady's slippers, and turkey vultures to dragonflies. Trails traverse upland and bottomland forests, marsh, swamp and pond edges, meadows and an Atlantic white cedar bog. A great variety of plant and animal life thrive in the diverse habitats, including several rare and endangered species in Massachusetts, such as the timber rattlesnake.