Taking a second look: Ashland State Park


Behind Warren Conference Center, along the Ashland State Park reservoir

The first time I visited Ashland State Park, I approached it from the far side of the reservoir. My friend Sandra lives across the street from the reservoir and that day we slid down a steep slope to the dam, and stumbled through poorly kept poorly-marked trails that were steep and rooty and rocky. As we finished our walk, Sandra asked if it felt like we’d taken an Easy Walk.

“NO!” I answered. Although the reservoir is quite lovely, I drew the line at Ashland State Park and did not include it in More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.


Handicapped Ramp at Ashland State Park

But recently I read a post about the state installing some handicapped railings at the swimming area of Ashland State park. It caused me to rethink my initial impression of the park. Perhaps there was more here than I had first thought. I stopped by on a day when I’d run errands in the area. With no walking buddy to travel with me, I still saw enough to make me curious, and made plans to return.

When I picked Sandra up to head over to the Park entrance, she admitted she had never walked to the far side of the reservoir. She’d always stayed on the paths nearest her home. The map showed several paths, but I hoped to find a trail with water views, so we headed to the beach area, and spotted a small bridge leading off into the woods.


Small bridge near swimming area, leading to the trail along the reservoir

If it was too rough, it was too rough, but we wouldn’t know till we tried it.


Despite the slope, the trail is remarkably level

The first section was pretty rooty and rocky, but remarkably level. Once we got out onto a small peninsula, the walking was quite easy and the views–oh, my.


Stunning water views all along the trail

Sandra was tickled to see the reservoir from such a different perspective.

The farther we walked, the more we realized we could simply keep going for several miles, more than either of us were up to that day. As we retraced our steps, we stumbled across a tree severely chewed by beavers.


Gravity is winning, with some help from the beavers

We’d seen loads of beaver signs all along the trail. But on this December day when almost all the leaves were gone, this particular oak was doing it’s best to overcome the effects of beaver depredations. And we’d almost missed it.


Leaves at the base of an oak, chewed by beavers-surprise to see such color in December

Sometime first impressions are quite accurate. But there have been times when I’ve discovered that my first impression did not provide a complete picture of who a person was, what a town was like, or what a natural area had in store.

I’ve been grateful to be given second chances more than once in my own life. I was sorry I’d written off Ashland State Park so quickly, and when the next update comes out, More Easy Walks will surely have a section on this sweet trail along the reservoir in Ashland, MA.


Along the shore of the Ashland Reservoir


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

2 responses to “Taking a second look: Ashland State Park

  1. auntie beak

    i circumnavigated the reservoir here 3 years ago. i liked it a lot. http://auntiebeak.com/ashland-state-park/

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