When I started resarching trails for my Easy Walks in Massachsuetts book series, I wondered if there would be enough open space for me to write about. Seven years later, I wonder if I can keep up with new trails being developed in nearby towns. I visited the Hughes Property in Hopkinton, MA several years ago with John Ritz, chair of the Hopkinton Hiking club, who described the area to me as having been recently donated to the town.
A former farm, the Highes property was in tough shape then, and at the time I passed on including it in the Easy Walks guide for that area. On that first visit, it really was not an Easy Walk. The trail we found was rough, mucky, and hard to follow. Brush had overgrown much of the area. I visited a portion of the property and chose not to put into the book.
But when we revisited the property last fall, I found a very different place. The parking area was cleared out and obviously a parking area. We no longer had to pull onto the grass to get off the road. In More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, just released January 1, 2020, information about the Hughes property is now included.
As of last fall when I visited, the signage was still lacking, but I have learned that signs are about the last thing that gets added to a piece of conservation land open to the public. In time, a sign will be posted, helping folks more easily find this lovely spot. For now, a rough “192” painted on a wooden sign is the only indicator that 192 Hayden Rowe is where the trailhead starts for the Hughes Property.
The half mile trail back through the woods is wide, easy walking. A small bridge carries visitors over an intermittent stream that flows through the area. For now, the trail surface is ground asphalt millings, placed as a trail base. Eventually finely crushed stone dust will provide a solid surface for walking and biking.
Near the road is an open field. The landscape on this twenty acres of open space is varied, with wetlands, open field, and woodland. An additional fifty-seven acres of open space combined with the Hughes property creates a substantial wildlife corridor. You will find stone walls here, a reminder of this former famland’s past.
With spring, look for new growth on the edges of the mown farm field. Grass is greening up, buds of all sorts are blooming. Please be wise about how you spend time outdoors, be safe, and 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.