Take a Hike
- Visit North Central
No wheels? No problem!
With dozens of local and state parks and miles of maintained trails, there’s no shortage of places to take a leisurely walk — or an energizing hike — in Johnny Appleseed Country.
At the western end of the region, the North Quabbin Trails Association has created a network of hiking trails. You can enjoy a stroll along the banks of the Millers River, walk through the Bearsden Conservation Area, or explore the Lawton State Forest.
The Millers River Watershed Council offers maps and hike tips on its website, millerswatershed.org. Paper copies are also available at local sites, including the Athol and Orange public libraries.
In Phillipston, you can access the area’s trails at the Red Apple Farm — and begin or end your hike with a visit to the orchard or farmstand! Enjoy walking along the self-guided trail to a beaver dam and Thousand Acre Woods, a hike of about about 25 minutes each way.
The Midstate Trail
The Midstate Trail, a 92-mile long footpath running from Rhode Island to the New Hampshire border, passes through Appleseed Country, from Mount Wachusett to Mount Watatic. Dating back to the 1920s, this scenic trail includes several panoramic summit view spots that you won’t want to miss.
And getting on the trail is easy, thanks to the efforts of the Midstate Trail Committee, an affiliate of the Appalachian Mountain Club. At a number of spots throughout the region, convenient parking areas make this popular trail accessible. They include spots in Ashburnham, Westminster and Princeton, and are clearly signed with familiar yellow markers.
To follow the trail — and find access points — visit www.midstatetrail.org.
State Parks Galore
The eastern end of the region boasts an abundance of state property, complete with miles of trails. Pearl Hill State Park in West Townsend and Willard Brook State Forest in Ashby and Townsend, offer thousands of acres of forest, with tumbling brooks adding nature’s music to your trip. A new four-mile trail connects Damon Pond in Willard Brook State Forest to Pearl Hill.
Maps and information about state parks in the region can be found at the Department of Conservation and Recreation area of the state website, www.mass.gov.
Room for a View
If fabulous vistas are your goal, you won’t want to miss the high points of the midsection of Johnny Appleseed Country.
One of them, of course, is really hard to miss: Wachusett Mountain towers over the area’s landscape. A popular spot for winter sports, from skiing to snowboarding and snow-shoeing, the state reservation is replete with trails that can be hiked throughout the year. And from the peak, you can see the Boston skyline on a clear day.
Sholan Farms in Leominster is another great spot to get some exercise and enjoy the view of the city spread out below! Put Sholan’s Friday evening hikes on your “must-do” list. Be sure to pack a snack — which you’re invited to share with your new-found friends around a campfire at the end of the evening’s hike.
The Trustees of Reservations
And don’t forget the properties managed by The Trustees of Reservations!
There are over a half-dozen Trustees properties spread throughout Johnny’s backyard, and trail maps can be found online at www.thetrustees.org.
Be sure to plan a visit to Doane’s Falls in Royalston, a link in the 22-mile loop known as the Tully Trail. Running through the North Quabbin region, the trail circles the largely undeveloped Tully Valley.
Lace up those hiking boots and enjoy a day exploring the area’s wealth of trails!
–photo courtesy of Guy Biechele