Summer for me means getting outside on our adaptive tandem bicycle. Outings during Covid-19 have increasingly become road biking since our beloved rail trails are so well-loved they are more crowded than we feel comfortable visiting. We headed out recently to Dudley, our second try. The first attempt my cooling vest clogged and the trip was aborted because of the heat. This time, the day was cooler, and we also have another cooling vest in hand.
After parking near Nichols College in Dudley, which appeared very quiet on a Saturday, we headed out on a loop we had sketched out on a new (to us) trails app Ride with GPS we found to be really useful for road biking. The roads we traveled were mostly in Dudley, but over the 16 miles we traveled we touched a corner of Charlton and a little of Oxford MA as well. But for the most part, we rode in Dudley.
Along the way we took in views of some beautiful ponds and lakes, some sweeping views across old farm fields, and stumbled across a Mass Audubon sanctuary Pierpont Meadows, I had never heard of.
Pierpont Meadows is 211 acres of former farmland with wide farm tracks that lend themselves to Easy Walking. We took the main farm track back toward the pond we’d seen on our ride, and after only a half mile or less Easy Walk found ourselves on the shore on a large pond.
No swimming or fishing is allowed from this Audubon property, but you are free to spend as much time as you’d like enjoying the views, and watching for birds. No entry fee is charged, but donations are accepted. No bathrooms are available on the property.
As we walked we spotted crushed Concord grapes on the trail, and after a little detective work, found large clusters of very ripe grapes dangling over the trail.
A few swipes with my hiking pole knocked down a handful of grapes for us to enjoy. We left the rest for the birds and other critters who are sure to visit after dusk.
Lots of milkweed has thrived on this property as well, making this area a welcome fueling station for migrating Monarch butterflies.
Buffumville Dam in Charlton was on our biking route as well, and we found few others there. It turns out that the area is officially closed, but hiking and mountain bike trails remain open. We rode up onto the dam itself, got some views of the lake below the dam, and continued on our way.
Unlike when we have visited rail trails, our road biking has kept us pretty isolated from fellow travelers. Cars and trucks have been good about giving us space, and we have worked to help them know when it was safe to pass. Our road travels have given us a better view of paths that have historically been used by those who lived here in years past. Once again, as other road biking trips, we have followed roads that are lined with stone wall remnants and historical cemeteries. The walls are often covered on one or both sides with vines, and are set back from the road, making them difficult to photograph. Mostly I spy small piles of stones along the way, and smile, knowing the landscape once looked quite different.
We will return to Pierpont Meadows in the future. It’s a great place to walk with friends–the trails are wide enough to make walking with others very easy. Multiple trails, through woodland as well as through paths mowed along the edges of of the meadows, offers variety, lots of summer flowers, beautiful foliage this fall, and water views. For a small place, and a quiet town, Dudley has a lot to offer. 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.