We arrived at the SNETT Trailhead at Grove Street in Franklin, and soon the parking area was filled with eager walkers. Some were Franklin/Bellingham Railtrail Committee members, others recently moved to the area, or recently retired and curious. One walker lives in Douglas and is active helping to develop the SNETT where it travels through her community. She was taking notes, hoping to learn from others about what they have done, what works and what hasn’t worked (yet).
Volunteers are the heart of most trail organizations, which often take on the tasks of sponsoring cleanups, fundraising, updating information in trail kiosks, refill doggy poop bag holders, and so much more. They also, on occasion, sponsor group walks to help raise awareness of specific area trails.
I spotted one such group walk on a Facebook feed, and my calendar was open, so I pulled on my blaze orange clothing and headed over, having no real idea who would show up. These open invite walks are a hit or miss kind of thing–sometimes huge numbers show up, other times, no one.
I knew from walking the trail last week that with the recent rains there would be water on the trail. But this group of about 8 walkers and one dog were not discouraged. The sky was blue, we had no wind, and the temps were in the mid thirties. A great time to get out on the trail and meet some new folks.
The SNETT in Franklin is mostly unfinished, with a small, finished entryway making the trailhead more inviting, but otherwise, the former railbed still awaits attention from DCR to smooth out the trail, get the surface raised (above the water line) and clear out the drainage on either side. The humps and bumps created from dirt bike travel are still a challenge as well.
But these volunteers are nothing if not patient. Thanks for all the members who showed up to lead the way, for their patience in continuing to advocate for the trail, and for working with DCR to figure out how to extend the trail all the way into downtown Franklin (someday!) For those of us who could make the time on a sunny Friday morning, it was great fun. We’re looking forward to future group walks. For more information about the SNETT and the group of volunteers working to develop the trail, head over to https://www.franklinbellinghamrailtrail.org/
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. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then