Tag Archives: avoiding crowds during covid 19

Gate 22, West Boyleston, snow shoeing

Overlooking the Wachusett Reservoir from Gate 22

While we typically have a destination in mind, especially after recent snow, when we spotted a plowed parking area and trail kiosk, we quickly turned around to go back and investigate. While numbers for contracting Covid have been decreasing, we are still doing what we can to #avoidcrowds, so seeing just a few cars in the lot, we decided this was worth exploring. Gate 22, a fire road providing access to the Wachusett Reservoir in West Boylston, looked like a good place to explore.

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Southborough-Breakneck Hill

Lovely views from Breakneck Hill, along with wide trails

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.

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Hopedale Parklands in winter, with Cable 8 TV

View of Hopedale Pond from along the carriage road

In a time when we have felt so closed in by the pandemic, it has been a blessing that, at least near where I live, the trails have been for the most part ice free. We have enjoyed several very Easy Walks recently, one of which was to return to Hopedale Parklands with Tyler, our ace camera guy from ABMI Cable 8, and my hiking friend Linda. Watch the 16 minute video of our walk here.

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Handy Pond, Lincoln, RI winter walk

Handy Pond, Lincoln, RI

We walked alongside the Blackstone River the day prior to this walk and got views of the river at near flood level, more what we would expect in spring than in late December. But we also encountered more visitors than we wished. Perhaps for this outing a town-owned property with limited parking might offer the solitude we craved? Handy Pond, (actually Rochambeau Pond, according to a reliable source) along Old River Road in Lincoln, RI was our pick, a first visit to what turned out to be an extended trail network through woodland, with views of the pond, as well as several stream crossings.

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The Cape in late fall

River headed to the sea at Long Pasture, Audubon, in Barnstable

Lucky for our family, we have practiced #avoidingcrowds for years, and yet even we are struggling this year to figure out where to go where lots of others are not. We avoid visiting Cape Cod in warmer months specifically because of how busy the area is. But late fall, early December on the Cape seemed like a good bet for meeting up with fewer people as we continue to strive to stay healthy in the midst of the pandemic.

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Hopkinton MA Duck Pond Trail

Streamway channeled through the woods

It was another short day, with things to do before we headed outdoors. Where to go nearby before the sun went down? A Hopkinton (MA) trails club member had told me about a trail that was an Easy Walk. I had the sense few others would be there, since no sign is posted at the road indicating the presence of a trail. Turns out, my guess was right.

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Biking in November-West and East Greenwich, RI

A perfect, late fall day to be outdoors (and no, the picture is not upside down–mirror reflection of the sky from a roadside stream)

The day promised to be warm enough for us to get our adaptive tandem bicycle back out and head out for some road biking. Trails are once again subject to overcrowding, so rather than risk getting too close to others, we chose to explore more rural roads in West Greenwich, RI.

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Return to Gooseberry Island

The outgoing tide left hardpacked sand along the shoreline of Gooseberry Island on an overcast morning

The forecast was for rain, so we used our strategy for #Avoidingcrowds and headed to the shore, confident we would be able to enjoy a walk outside without lots of fellow travelers. Gooseberry Island, in Westport, MA is still our favorite, and closest place to take in the scent of salt water.

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Avoiding crowds–Blackall Preserve Cumberland, RI

Pond on the property of Blackall Family preserve

We had driven past the trail kiosk for the Blackall Family Preserve in Cumberland, RI a number of times, but had no real idea if we would find any Easy Walks in this area. Many trails in Cumberland are quite rocky. This one might have been too. But “Be willing to explore,” is a strategy for finding Easy Walks I urge my readers to adopt. Following on this is, “Have a plan B.”

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The other Upton State Forest, Pleasant Street

Signs of beaver alongside the West River in the Upton State Forest, Pleasant Street

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.

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