The “missing link” section of the Upper Charles Trail in Milford was for many years just that—missing. Not true anymore, but it still has the feel of being hidden in plain sight. Access to this section of the trail is from behind some grocery stores, down a sidewalk to an almost hidden sidewalk type of entrance, or, as my friend and I agreed, to meet at the IHOP in Milford on Rt 109, where the sign says, “Trail parking”. Parking at a restaurant, getting on your bike, or pulling on your walking shoes and heading out works just fine at this unexpected trail access point.
We chose to walk behind the grocery store, where the trail is almost parallel with Rt. 16 through downtown Milford, yet this section of trail has a surprisingly peaceful, quiet feeling. Not so, the nearby busy Rt 16 that threads its way through downtown Milford.
Do not expect grand views along this section of trail. It is mostly a connector link, to get you to either the more substantial portion of the trail that travels through Milford to the Hopkinton line, or else heads northeast to connect with the trail that goes through Holliston.
Several benches along the way invite visitors to stop and rest. The path is paved for ease of travel for those on bikes, walkers, and even roller blades. A stone wall remnant or two remain alongside the trail from days past when none of the nearby modern infrastructure existed. One stone wall was rather massive—a double stone wall—which in its day required a tremendous effort to construct.
As we walked, my friend and I talked of stone walls, where we find them, and where we don’t. We are old friends, so we spent little time getting caught up with our lives. Rather, we simply jumped into what we saw and noticed, enjoying some time spent alone together. Easy Walks are perfect for this type of visiting—walking and speaking from the heart, or simply enjoying being outdoors together.
We noticed some young Japanese knotweed just sprouting next to the trail. An invasive, this plant tends to take over an area. I recalled a mutual friend of ours, determined to eradicate knotweed that had taken root in her yard. She wet stacks of newspaper and laid the mats of paper over the young shoots, adding more wet newspaper in the following days until the invasive plants gave up and died.
We took in the sight of maples just sending out sprouts of green buds, their pale green lacework contrasted against the bright blue spring sky. On this warm day, we could almost feel the green crowding out all the empty winter spaces that had been the bare branches of winter.
We saw no other wildlife than a meandering squirrel exploring woodland next to the trail. This is quite close to downtown Milford, in fact, protected mostly by a barrier fence, with businesses on the other side away from the trail. And yet, the small buffer between busyness and quiet made the difference in offering a place of peace in the midst of an urban setting. The missing link, now an integral portion of the Upper Charles Trail, is not on many people’s radar as a destination, yet fit our need for a quiet, Easy Walk where we could walk and talk. Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman
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, and editor of 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.