About a month ago, I got an email from my good friend about a challenge put out by the Trustees of Reservations in Massachusetts. I had never heard of this organization before, even though I’ve lived in MA all my life. In honor of the organization’s 125th birthday, they are challenging people to hike 125 miles on Trustees property between May 1 and December 31, 2016. It is free to sign up and you get a cool participation sticker at the end, no matter how many miles you log! I signed up shortly after I read my friend’s email and started searching for properties close to me. That day happened to be a rest day, but instead I decided to go for a walk right after work and logged my first hike. Since then I have logged about 25 miles on Trustees properties and I have had an absolute blast exploring trails in places I never even knew existed!
Doyle Community Park & Center – Leominster, MA
My first adventure took place at this little property on my way home from work. Little did I know, in my 3+ years of commuting on Route 2, that this little gem was right off the highway! I had beautiful weather for my walk and I decided that I would definitely come back to run the well-worn trails through the woods and fields. I’ve ended up logging most of my Hike125 miles here, because of how conveniently located it is for me, and because it is a beautiful property. It’s also been great for my slow introduction into trail running, because there’s nothing too challenging here – it’s more like a great cross-country course.
Swift River Reservation – Petersham, MA
The second property I explored was the Swift River Reservation, which took me a little out of my way, but it was worth it. I left straight from work, hoping that I would have enough time before the sun went down. Just the drive out to Petersham was beautiful. Mid-October meant there was some gorgeous foliage to see. I ran on the Nichewaug Tract, and I was the only person there. It was very peaceful, except for the part where I slipped on a bunch of acorns and slid down part of the trail on my behind. Needless to say, these trails were a lot more challenging than Doyle Community Park, but I was rewarded with some spectacular views.
Ward Reservation – North Andover, MA
Ward Reservation has been my favorite Trustee property that I’ve visited, so far. It is also much more popular. You need to pay a small fee to park here (unless you are a Trustee member), but the length and diversity of trails at this reservation were well worth the $5. There are private properties very close to this reservation, so you do need to pay attention and make sure you don’t wind up in someone’s backyard.
Peaked Mountain – Monson, MA
On an overcast Sunday, Mike and I took a drive down to Monson to hike/run Peaked Mountain. Pronounced “Pea-kid”, this little mountain gives spectacular views of the surrounding area for a minimal amount of work. There were many people walking their dogs, or bringing their very small children for a nice Sunday hike. One little boy asked his dad why we weren’t carrying any snacks with us. Clearly he knows that the most important part of a hike is the snack you get at the top. 🙂 There is also the Miller Forest Tract right down the road, which looked like a popular spot for mountain biking.
I’ve really enjoyed exploring the Trustee’s “Inspired Places” this past month. I’m so grateful that my friend thought to send me that link, because I may have never found so many amazing places otherwise. There are many more properties scattered all across MA that I would really like to visit prior to year’s end in order to log as many miles as I can towards that 125, but I will continue to visit and explore these places in the years to come.