When the weather forecast for Columbus Day weekend promises lots of rain, it makes a lot more sense to stay closer to home and enjoy what we can, when we can.
For us, that meant heading to Brimfield, MA to explore a section of the Grand Trunk Trail that some day will travel from Franklin, on the SNETT, (part of the larger Grand Trunk Trail, or Titanic Rail Trail) quite near where I live, through Bellingham, practically by my house, and out to Palmer, MA.
The Brimfield section of the Grand Trunk Trail offers views of the Quinebaug River, overlaps with the Trolley Trail,
the Lake Siog Pass trail,
and Holland Pond, in Holland, MA.
Much of this area is wetlands, and offers early views of foliage.
Swamp maples and other plants in these wetlands change early in the season, and will drop their leaves soon. Heavy rain will speed up the season, blowing the colorful leaves right off the trees.
But at least for a day, we enjoyed overcast, somewhat humid, but manageable weather to bike about ten miles in total along the connected trails in this area. Despite the warm temperatures, the foliage assured us that fall is in the air.
We started out on the far western parking area, accessed directly off Rt. 20, west of Sturbridge, at 120 Sturbridge Road, Brimfield. Ample parking for at least 15 cars is available at this trailhead. There are additional parking areas available, with room for horse trailers.
A long-gone bridge that I suspect carried trolleys across the Quinebaug River at one time is missing; bridge abutments remain, but it would require quite a running leap to get across the river as it stands today. We turned back at this point, after enjoying the foliage and river views.
With all the stunning foliage on view, we expected this trail to have more visitors, but we had the area almost completely all to ourselves. Once we got away from Rt. 20 the remaining portion of our ride was blissfully quiet.
The Army Corp of Engineers oversees parts of this area, and one section of where we traveled was a dirt road that took us to the Siog Pass,
a trail that leads to Lake Siog, or Holland Pond.
It is also the trailhead for the Quinebaug River Trail, a 5.5 mile river trail from the pond back to East Brimfield Lake.
The trail we biked over was quite flat, which made for easy pedaling.
We can across one rock cut, and had multiple chances to view the Quinebaug as it wended its way through the area.
We got back before the rain, and were glad to be headed home. But we’ll be back out, visiting other places soon. But for this weekend, it’s a time to stay closer to home.
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.