When recently in Southborough, we saw an additional piece of open space within walking distance of where we had just explored. We stopped by to get a look, to see if this would be a good place to bring elder parents. In fact, this might not be a great place for unsteady elders in rather cold weather, but for those of us looking for Easy Walks, willing to dress in layers and willing to climb some gently sloping hills, and back down the same slopes, Breakneck Hill in Southborough is a great spot to spend a few hours.
The former farm land has remnants of the orchard that once filled its sloping ground. A few spots offer some relatively steep paths, but nothing I found terribly challenging in our two-hour visit. The views are nice, but encroaching trees deny the views one might hope for on a hill like this. It occurred to me that the slopes may make for some amazing sledding, but that is not what we were there to do, and the snow was quite thin on the ground during our visit.
Almost as soon as we got out of the car we spotted a side trail that led to a rocky area. On further investigation it was apparent that this was the site of a former quarry. Relatively flat paths lead to the rocks, and more nimble folks should be able to scramble around on the rocks to get good views of the quarry.
This town-owned property offers multiple paths through the property, and the paths have been mown, so following the paths was quite easy. Each path is at least 8-10 feet wide, so avoiding others during this pandemic was relatively easy, and the day was cold enough we saw only a few other visitors, despite it being a weekend.
A portion of the property borders Woodland Road, where more ambitious travelers can access the Southborough Town Forest, across the street, heading east. We chose to make two trips, visiting Turenne Wildlife Refuge and the far eastern portion of the town forest the first day, and returning the next day to enjoy Breakneck Hill.
Near the parking on Breakneck Hill Road we spotted gardens that surely will be lovely next spring. I expect we may see bluebirds as well, birds who thrive in open fields such as this area. On our visit we spotted a northern harrier skimming the fields in search of prey. Though difficult to tell now, perhaps even some of those apple trees may blossom in the spring, providing some beautiful color to the landscape.
In our ongoing efforts to #avoidcrowds, we confirmed that town-owned open space is a good bet when heading outside, especially if the only time you have to spend outdoors is on weekends. As we get through winter, watch your step, and be safe out there. 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.