With the start of summer comes the longest days, the most sunlight (and the summer heat, of course). We had an early light dinner and headed out with our adaptive tandem bicycle to one of the closest local trails, the handicapped accessible, stone dust covered, Upper Charles Trail in Holliston, MA. A helpful strategy we have used for avoiding crowded trails is to get out early in the morning, or at supper time, when others are headed home.
When the trail in Holliston was first being developed, the biggest challenge was finding safe parking. Local roads crossed the trail in numerous locations, but few had legal places to park. For this visit we drove down Hopping Brook Road, just off Rt. 16 in Holliston and turned in at a “Holliston Trail parking” sign on the left, about 100 yards from Rt. 16. Not only is the parking area here paved, it has a path linking directly to the trail. And for our after dinner ride, we had the parking lot almost all to ourselves. Only one or two other cars. Easy to keep our distance.
On our other outings in various locations, we have noticed few others using face masks, but on this visit to Holliston, most trail users not only had face masks with them, but they were using them. This made more sense when we spotted the large, prominent signs along the trail addressing face mask use.
The Upper Charles Trail in Holliston does a great job keeping “poop” bags readily available, with receptacles ready to receive any and all “gifts.” Sadly, the trash receptacles right next to the town center were filled to overflowing. While we commend dog owners for bagging their dogs’ poop, we have a new flash. Spoiler alert. The poop fairy is not real! If the trash receptacle is full, take your dog’s poop home.
I had been hoping to get a glimpse of the heron rookery just off the trail, near the Sherborn line. We made it to the location of the rookery, and spotted about four nests, but were evidently too late to see nesting activity. (We are bird enjoyers, not experts. Bird experts could have told us it would be too late to spot young ones in the next.) Ah well, we’ll need to get there earlier next year.
The improved trail ends abruptly at the Sherborn town line. On other visits the dirt path has been a muddy quagmire. And while the trail was drier for our visit, we spotted a group of dirt bikes traveling toward us, and chose not to cross paths with them. Yes, there are signs throughout the trail system that say no motorized vehicles. We suspect our presence convinced them to head off into the woods.
We spotted some beautiful summer flowers along the trail, and lots of bracken fern, which I recently learned are what produces the best fiddleheads in the spring.
The challenge of finding fiddleheads is you need to recall where the ferns were from the previous summer, and get back in the spring when the ferns are just unfurling. Brackens are very common ferns, but picking fiddleheads is better in less traveled places. And always be sure to leave most to keep growing.
While we were not totally alone on the trail, we were able to keep our distance, and as we passed, fellow travelers waved, appreciative of our calls that we were approaching “On your left.” Happy Trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy 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: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.
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.