In the process of updating my second book, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, I headed to Natick with some hiking buddies to see what I could find of the Cochituate Rail Trail. Turns out, the section we found is rather short, less than a quarter of a mile in length, but has some great views of Lake Cochituate.
This is a rail trail in development. I also learned that spring 2019 will bring more construction on this trail system. One mile in Framingham has been paved, but I could find no designated parking.
Where we parked at the end of Chrysler Road in Natick offers access to the railbed, but those comforting “park here for railtrail” signs were nowhere to be found. I get a wee bit nervous when leaving my car in areas with questionable parking, and this lack of designated parking provided a negative tick mark on the “should this go into the book?” form I carry with me on each of these outings (just kidding–the form is in my head!).
We did find a cool pine tree with a root system mostly out of the ground, perched just above the lake. My walking buddies spotted newly dug out sand underneath the suspended roots, a good indication that furry animals of some sort found a safe home inside the pine tree.
Traffic noise from the MassPike, just across the lake, means this will be a walk that has beautiful views, but will not be an escape from civilization, for sure!
When we returned to our parking area, we decided to investigate where the wooded trail led, beyond a fenced, gated area.The gate was wide open. Before long we came within sight of the beach area of Cochituate State Park.
To reach the beach area we would have had to walk over some remaining ice and chose to turn back. The ice was slick, and we saw no reason to risk a fall on the trail. We wondered if the gate is closed and locked during the summer season to prevent access, since visitors pay a fee during warmer months to use the state park.
Unless I get better information, this trail is not going into the book update. I look forward to visiting the trail when it is finished, but especially because of the parking issues, both in Natick and Framingham, and the fact it will be under construction in the coming year at least, it didn’t make the cut. But I am adding at least fifteen other trails to the second edition, so look for More Easy Walks, 2nd edition to be available by June.
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.