The SNETT is within walking distance of where I live in Bellingham, and thus I’ve been able to keep a pretty close eye on any progress, or lack thereof, in making this section of trail more useable.
While the Massachusetts Walking tour was in town work on the SNETT became problematic, since the hiking musicians had planned to use the SNETT to travel from Bellingham to Franklin, and then back again from Franklin on toward Blackstone. (They had also used the SNETT for some of their travels in Douglas as well–the SNETT travels through six towns in this area.) The troupe was able to safely get past the construction and use the trail, but until the morning they came through we weren’t sure the trail would be passable.
Prior to this trail work, the section of the SNETT from Lake Street in Bellingham back to Prospect Street in Franklin had been filled with humps and bumps, large chunks of gravel and soft sandy spots–not great for biking, but manageable for walking. Not a wonderful experience, but passable.
This morning, Independence Day, we rose early to beat the heat and headed over to see the work DCR had done on the trail and had a great walk along this finished section of the SNETT. It’s a short portion of the trail, only about 3/4 of a mile, but combined with the adjacent section from Lake to Center Street in Bellingham, now provides nearly two contiguous miles of completed trail. The surface is paved as it approaches Lake Street. (There must have been a bridge over the road in years past, but now there is simply a pretty steep slope down to the road, then back up the other side.)
I was able to walk in sneakers since the packed stone dust is easier on my feet than pavement. There was a lot of shade on the trail, but the horse flies were buzzing about where there is standing water in the drainage areas along the edges of the path.
When we reached Prospect Street we found large stones that reached up to the Prospect Street crossing, clearly set there for drainage purposes, until the Prospect Street Underpass can be built.
It was difficult to walk over, and bikes will need to be walked to reach the slope that climbs up and over Prospect Street. Not great for now, but I keep telling myself, “It’s temporary.” Onward!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.