Stumbling into a different world, off the Upper Charles Trail, Holliston

Guest Post:

Tommy Zazulak of Holliston reached out to me to share some photos he took near the Upper Charles Trail in Holliston. We exchanged a few emails, and he ended up sharing a delightful, slightly wacky story of stumbling across some intriguing stone culverts underneath the trail, in the area of Wenakeening Woods. The following are his photos and story. Enjoy! MTH

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Stone culvert underneath the upper Charles Trail in Holliston (photo courtesy Tommy Zazulak)

The best part of the Upper Charles Land Trust area and the trails contained therein isn’t what you see as you hike the Holliston Upper Charles Trail or the Wenakeening Woods path. Rather it’s what you don’t see from the main route that is so breathtaking. At least it was for me when I stepped off the marked trails and paths and discovered a variety of tiny aqueducts, brooks and stone bridges unnoticeable from the marked and heavily traveled Holliston Rail Trail.

Well to be entirely honest, like many great discoveries, I found these sites by accident. While walking the trail, I peeked over the side and in a very fluid swan-like maneuver, I fell (it’s ok to laugh). Guess I should have listened to the doctor. Vertigo isn’t just a cool sounding word. It’s a real medical condition. When I recovered, after wiping dirt and leaves from my hands and knees, I looked up and thought “huh??”

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Taller stone culvert underneath the trail (photo courtesy Tommy Zazulak)

I did a little roaming around at the base of the Holliston Rail Trail, both in an effort to regain my surroundings as well as to find a way back up to the path and that’s where I found that the best part of the area is what’s underneath it.

The marked trails are impressive but once you step off those trails you walk into a very virginal and Eden like forest—especially in the Wenakeening Woods area. I kept looking around for saints and prophets sporting beards and robes but all I found were mud splattered mountain-bikers.

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Tiny culvert in Wenakeening Woods, with stream flowing through it (photo courtesy Tommy Zazulak)

What I followed the most on my trek was the waterways. This is what led me to the various aqueducts. I expect these bridges were built years ago by pure necessity, that is to say, people had to traverse the water to effect travel and trade. No point showing up at the town center with boots full of mud and water and an itching case of gangrene. But here they still lie years later. And now they entertain amateur hikers, mountain bikers and old men stuck at home because of COVID-19 (oh, that last one is me).

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My favorite of the stone culverts I discovered near the Upper Charles Trail in Holliston (photo courtesy Tommy Zazulak)

Tomorrow I’m gonna return to the Wenakeening Woods and again step off the marked trail in hopes of spotting some wildlife. If I shan’t return, tell my family I went out with a smile in a blaze of mud yelling “How steep is this incline?” (and my high-school guidance counselor said I was bound for great things??)

Written by Tommy Zazulak, cancer survivor and lifelong resident of New England, who currently lives in Holliston, MA

beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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