While we have had some snow already, the trails at the moment are ice-free. The past several days we have been able to get out on our local rail trails with no boots needed. The Holliston section of the Upper Charles Trail is packed stone dust, as is the Bellingham section of the SNETT, from Center St. to Lake Street and over to Prospect Street, which some folks may think is not quite finished. What I have learned is that the crushed stone dust surface is much easier on my feet than pavement. I can wear sneakers or street shoes and be quite comfortable. The trails are clearly marked, and while not crowded when we visited, both trails had plenty of other walkers also using the paths.
We visited the Holliston railtrail with my daughter and grandboy. Being 5, the little guy is not as enthused about simply getting outside, so we needed a destination. The storywalk, accessed from Cross Street, west of Holliston Center, made for a great goal. The book, laid out page by page along the trail, added some extra interest and fun. He brought his scooter and scooted between pages and soon Jan Brett’s book was done. What next?
Just east along the trail is the Phipps Tunnel, a visible and manageable goal for a little guy and his mom (and me!).
We headed toward the tunnel, and soon found ourselves creating echoes in the brick-lined structure. “This is where they had hot dogs last year, right?” a little guy recalled. Last year we spent New Year’s Eve (well, actually it was a night in February, since the walk was postponed because of unsafe ice last New Year’s Eve) walking the trail with hundreds of other residents and visitors to Holliston,
enjoying the bonfires along the trail,
and toasting marshmallows at a few of the bonfires. Some of us made sure to get a free hot dog from the Boy Scouts who staffed tables with hot chocolate and more inside the tunnel. For those who haven’t had a chance to take part in this local tradition, New Year’s Eve is right around the corner! The event takes place from 5-8, and basically takes place from Cross Street to Blair Square, just outside Holliston’s center.
The next day I had a very different railtrail experience, but enjoyable nonetheless. The Franklin/Bellingham Railtrail Committee has begun sponsoring group hikes. This walk was the second in their series of hikes. Led by volunteers from the committee, the aim is simple. Invite folks to come join others for a walk, and introduce them to the trail.
Ten folks attended this event, plus one dog. Mostly retirees came, but we had a mom with young girls (and their dog) as well.
Several people mentioned having recently injured ankles–they were glad to be able to get out walking, and grateful for the smooth, unrutted surface this section of trail offered.
We started at the parking area on Center Street (at the corner of Fox Run Road) and headed east toward the Franklin section of the trail. This group, despite talking about injuries, walked faster than I can manage, so I mostly got pictures of their backs!
Renata, a committee member, stopped to break off some branches that had fallen into the trail, so she and I turned back together, since I had other meetings to attend that were also on my schedule.
Last I saw of the group, they had crossed Lake Street and were headed toward the Franklin section of the trail. The Franklin/Bellingham Railtrail committee announces these walks as Facebook events. Winter is upon us, but as long as the trails are clear, with layers and daylight, our local railtrails are great options to help you keep active through winter. Even when snow comes, trails are still walkable. just watch out for the ice. Happy trails!
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.