Well, we've been up Mt. Wachusett several times this spring as we try to get back into hiking condition. Most often I go up the Pine Hill Trail--fast and furious to the top, but this weekend we decided to see how the Bolton Pond Trail looked.
The Bolton Pond Trail starts off Bolton Road in Westminster. Coming from Rt. 140 and heading to the parking for the skiing trails but before you get to the main parking area, you'll find Bolton Road to your right. Perhaps half a mile along that road, watch carefully for the trailhead on the left. The road widens briefly about 30 meters (100 feet) past that trailhead, giving you space to park.
This trail is not heavily used. From this location, you have one of the longest hikes to the summit, and it's also one that gains you the most altitude.
The trail begins with a short, steep section, that turns sharply to the right and follows the contours of the hillside for perhaps 400 meters (440 yards). You pass an old building site--it looks like a hole in the ground but look carefully and you can see foundation stones and obvious man-made features. The trail quickly comes to the edge of a steep gully on your right with a rushing stream at the bottom. As you follow the gully upstream, you eventually come to Bolton Pond.
An old mill dam creates the pond, but beavers have added to the dam so now the water level is at least 30 cm (1 foot) higher than the top of the dam. You can nonetheless turn to your right and walk across the stone dam to one of the two beaver lodges that are found here. It's a pretty interesting feature!
The Bolton Pond Trail goes to the left, opposite the direction of the dam, continuing uphill through a mix of forest. The trail is mostly uphill from here on to the end. Right now, in the spring or after heavy rain, it is quite wet and muddy. Conscientious hikers will walk up through the running water and mud so we don't make the trail wider and cause more erosion.
After some distance, you'll come across Balance Rock. It is, as you might suspect, one very large rock sitting on top of another very large rock. They are both "glacial erratics" for those of you interested in such things. The trail joins the Balance Rock Trail and goes to the right past the rocks, meeting Balance Rock Road, one of the old roads criss-crossing Wachusett Mountain State Reservation. Across the street you'll find the Semuhenna Trail and the Old Indian Trail. You are also now following the Midstate Trail on it's trek from Connecticut to New Hampshire.
Perhaps 400 meters (440 yards) from the road, the Semuhenna Trail turns to the right. Looking to the left past the Old Indian Trail, we could see snow on the ski slopes still hanging in there in mid-April. The Semuhenna Trail continues uphill, steeply in some areas, until it reaches the Up Summit Road. At this time, hiking along the road is prohibited, as it is under construction. (I hope to have more information on that later.) To the right, the North Road comes to the Up Summit Road as well.
This week, this is as far as we went. Rain was starting to fall, and some of us were feeling a bit tired. We'll see about doing more of the trail on another day. Maybe next week we'll complete this hike or perhaps take one of the other trails to the top.
Don't forget to visit the Hiking Trails on Mt. Monadnock home page.
What it is
South Central New England has quite a few places for some interesting hikes. We'll be focusing on major destinations: Mt. Monadnock and Mt. Wachusett, but won't hesitate at all to go off on some little trail with no name and no following or off to a far-away route (or maybe something only vaguely related to hiking). These are almost always going to be day hikes, but you never know just what we'll be seeing!