This has been a strange year, for sure. Travel plans have been curtailed, we have stayed close to home, and have put a different priority on #avoidingcrowds. Inspired by my good friend Sue, of Auntie Beak’s Place, I realized it would be a good thing to look back on the year to reflect on the joys and surprising discoveries we encountered on the trail, mostly very close to home this past year. Hence, a very subjective list of my top ten favorite places we visited this past year, 2020.
#10 Blackstone Gorge, Blackstone: While I have probably visited the gorge more times than most any other trail in this area, I have never grown tired of it, in any season. While I found nothing particularly new or remarkable on our visits here, it just felt wrong to leave it off. And so, it’s on the list.
The SNETT as a proposed rail trail travels from Franklin, MA all the way to Douglas, and some progress has been made. An entire section in Blackstone, through Millville and on to Uxbridge, is complete. A portion in Bellingham is finished. But barriers remain. We stopped by Prospect Street in Franklin to see what is happening to build the tunnel (really a large culvert) underneath Prospect Street that will facilitate travel along the SNETT from Franklin to Bellingham.
Until a few years ago, the ponds of Delcarte Conservation area, just off Pleasant Street in Franklin, were private property, the trail around the ponds nonexistent. Ernie Delcarte left the property and ponds to the town of Franklin, and we are all richer for this gift. Take a simple walk around the ponds (plan for about an hour), bring the kids to the playground, fish off the dam (catch-and-release only!), or bring your canoe or kayak for a quiet paddle. You’ll find yourself returning to this gem of a spot, now protected for future generations, thanks to one man’s generosity.
From 495 take Rt. 140 south (exit 17) towards Franklin, past the Stop & Shop plaza, go through the light at Panther way, turn left at next light, Beaver Street. Go straight through the two lights at Franklin Center (St. Mary’s Church) the road becomes Pleasant Street, about 1 mile up on the right are two parking areas for Delcarte, second parking area is paved, with playground. Both parking areas provide easy access to the trail around the ponds.