We have state forests throughout Massachusetts, and are lucky enough to have several near where I live. Upon has at least two separate parcels of open space, the better known area where the CCC headquarters building stands off Westborough Road, and the parcel of forest behind Nipmuc High School on Pleasant Street in Upton. We visited this second portion of state forest on a recent weekend, and found almost no one on the nearly 2 mile loop trail that takes travelers alongside the West River as it flows on its way to the Blackstone River.
One reason we may have seen few others is that there is no sign at the edge of the high school parking lot that might tell casual visitors of the trail’s existence. We saw indications that the high school uses the paths here for their Cross Country practice and races.
The trail is mostly quite wide, wide enough for trucks to access as a fire road, which makes it easier to avoid fellow travelers during this Covid-19 pandemic. The only other visitors we saw on our visit kept walking right past the river. Their minds appeared to be elsewhere.
We took our time, lingering at the edge of the river, enjoying the color that is already touching the foliage as fall approaches. The Mill river, like other rivers and brooks in our area, is quite low right now, but is still flowing. The weedy growth next to the river bank is already flush with color, while we spotted a few maples beginning to turn color.
Exploring along the river’s edge, we also spotted old signs of beaver, nothing very fresh. We also spotted clusters of mushrooms on the forest floor,
The trail is very clear, with a few roots, and some rocks, but not many. This is not a handicapped accessible trail, but for the most part an Easy Walk. I had only visit here once before, in winter, so the trail looked rather different. We saw a few trails branch off from the main route, but it was not too difficult to stay with the main trail that got us down to the river.
Visitors are not welcome during school hours. Metal detectors are prohibited in the state forest. Expect to find few other visitors, unless a Cross Country meet is taking place. Better to plan your visit for a weekend. 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.