Stretching our legs at Mt. Ward, Marlborough

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Late afternoon sun on fallen leaves in the woods, just short of the top of Mt. Ward

Catherine used to live quite nearby and was a willing walking buddy as I researched trails to include in the several Easy Walks books I’ve published. But she moved closer to family, and we hadn’t had a chance to see each other. Yesterday we finally made a date to meet, have lunch together and explore a nearby trail, Mt. Ward,

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From a small neighborhood adjacent to the Marlboro State Forest, we headed off to explore Mt. Ward

close to her house in Marlborough.  Within the Marlborough-Sudbury State Forest, the “Mount” reaches 410 feet in height, not a real mountain by any standard, but it certainly offered a workout for our legs!

I have been feeling the climb we did just last weekend to the top of Mt. Everett in the town of Mount Washington, MA.

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Witch hazel blossoms fill the understory of the woods in the fall

The loop trail at Mt. Ward is not strenuous, and the climb is mostly gradual, but it is still a climb.

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While hunting appeared to be forbidden in this area, we still wore our blaze orange as we headed out along a former rail bed

We parked at the end of Langelier Lane in Marlboro, and entered the property along a former railroad bed.

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Leaves glowed in the afternoon sun as we picked our way along the back side of Mt. Ward. Note the small white blaze on tree in the far left of the photo

The access from either direction, the neighborhood we parked in, or Evergreen Cemetery, offers a clear, easy path toward Mt. Ward. We took the less traveled path, but thankfully trail signs were along the way regardless of where you start.

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The maple at the top of Mt. Ward

The back side of Mt. Ward is less traveled.

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USGS survey marker at top of Mt. Ward

Once we got to the top of the climb to the large maple tree, we followed a broad, open trail which gently sloped back toward the gas line access path.

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WAtching the falling leaves of autumn. WAsn’t able to catch any leaves in the picture, but the air was filled with leaves blown by the wind

It seems that many visitors simply climb the easy way up, take a look at the maple tree then head back down.

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The “Easy walk,” a clear, gently sloping wide path back down from the top

We, however, wanted to do the entire loop.

If you decide to do the same, be aware that the blazes on the back side, while present, are challenging at times to locate. The trail on the back side is much steeper and has many more roots and rocks. As we poked our way along the back side of the trial, Catherine finally said, “I don’t think this counts as an easy walk.” I would be inclined to agree with her!

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Overlooking the pond at Stephen Anthony’s in Marlborough

Once we reached the top, the rest of the trail was clearly an easy walk. We strolled back down, reflecting on our shared lunch at Stephen Anthony’s in Marlboro, Rt. 20. The food was tasty, but the best part of the experience was the company, sitting  in a “duck booth” perched over Hager Pond. I wasn’t sure if the window seats overlooking the pond are called duck booths or if Catherine simply calls them that. Regardless, it was great fun watching ducks, swans, seagulls, and fishermen float by as we enjoyed our lunch and caught up with each other’s lives.

While we set out on a sunny day with a few clouds in the sky, by the time I headed home dark storm clouds threatened, and I drove home through some heavy rains. We managed to stay dry for our walk, but we both found ticks on us afterwards. This was another reminder to remain vigilant–ticks are out there, and they are looking to catch a ride. Toss hiking clothes in the dryer after your walk and the ticks stand no chance–the dryer heat shrivels them right up. And don’t forget to do tick checks. Don’t avoid the outside because of these safety concerns, but be smart and careful. Happy trails!

Marjorie

beech cliffs 2018Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

http://tinyurl.com/MTH-More-easy-walks

 

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