60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Boston: Fifth Installment
Now that the New England winter has abated (although as I write this on June 1st, Killington Ski Resort is still open for its last day of skiing for the season!), it’s time to get back into hiking for my 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Boston book. I’ve already banged out a handful—some solo and some with my son, Devin, and his girlfriend, Ashley. Here’s a look at the next five—hikes 21-25:
This was the first hike of the new season (well, not counting my frequent excursions into Franklin State Forest, aka Lafe’s Personal State Forest). Devin and I set off on a cool, breezy, early-spring afternoon to explore Weir Hill. Much of this hike follows along the shore of Lake Cochichewick. The rest of the trails circumnavigate or go right up over the top of Weir Hill. In fact, there are several stone benches atop Weir Hill where you can just sit and relax and enjoy the spectacularly scenic view—which probably doesn’t look too different from back when North Andover was first colonized and farmed. This Trustees of Reservations land is open year-round, and my first thought is that it would make a great place for some nearby backcountry skiing. I also confessed to Devin that my tree identification skills are largely predicated on leaf shape. It was early spring. There wasn’t a leaf to be found!
I am not sure where I had more fun—hiking through Copicut Woods or driving nearby there. It is technically in Fall River, which is a fairly large, fairly gritty city in southeastern Massachusetts. So the fact that I found myself driving down barely maintained dirt roads with huge rocks and mud puddles was incredible. I felt like I was off four-wheeling somewhere. My car was an interesting shade of mud after that excursion.
Once I was on the trail and in the woods, I found Copicut Woods to be well worth the trip. It follows through dense woods, over a truly cool single-log bridge, through dense sections of undergrowth, and past a funky little shelter roughly in the center of the reservation. There are also several old stone foundations of the mansions that used to be here as part of the old Isaac Miller homestead.
The ominously named Destruction Brook is an expansive network of well-defined and well-marked trails. If I was a student at UMass Dartmouth, I would come here ALL the time! The trails wind through dense forest, more open and airy forests, and along waterways, and they cross back and forth over old stone walls left over from when all this was farmland. Parts of this hike are indeed dramatically scenic. I also appreciate that many of the trees and glacial features are marked with explanatory signs. That’s a nice touch. As I mentioned above, my tree identification skills are still a work in progress.
#23—Slocum’s River Reserve
This was the third of the “three-fer” day. Yes, many of these hikes are relatively flat. Yes, many of these hikes are relatively short. But doing three of them in one day is a bit much! I expect to carry out a bunch of two-fer days, but I doubt you’ll read about any more three-fers in future posts.
Slocum’s River definitely has that magical 100-Acre Wood feel. In spots, it very much resembles the World’s End hike in Hingham, which completely blew me away for its natural beauty. This short, sweet hike takes you down through some spectacular fields set along the Slocum River. There is one longer extension through the forests surrounding the Dartmoor farmland. This trail is actually no longer marked or maintained by the MA DCR. You can still travel on this trail, but have a map, a compass, and the know-how to use them; otherwise, you might spend more time than you planned wandering through the puckerbrush. The narrow, circuitous trail is already fairly grown over.
I am really glad I persevered and included this. The Indian Ridge reservation in Andover is a beautiful hike, encompassing woodland; marshes; big, open, grassy fields; glacial eskers; and long boardwalks. It has a little bit of everything. Parking is extremely limited and a bit funky. The original book suggests parking in a nearby cemetery, but that felt a bit awkward. Fortunately, I found a couple of on-street parking spots near trailheads that worked out. I can always tell how much I am enjoying a research hike by the volume of notes and quantity of pictures I take. There were lots of both! This was hike one of a two-fer with Devin and Ashley. The second was Goldsmith Reserve, which you can read about in the next post.
If you’ve missed the other installments of my hiking-in-Boston posts, you can find them here.
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