Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Just Down the Street...

For some reason folks always seem to travel a distance to relax and see new sights. I do, but in the past few years, although I still like to travel, I also like to travel closer to home. Really close. Like, down the street.

Not that I'm lazy, it's just that I can't seem to get out of town without seeing something new. Some sign, or old road that draws me in. I swear the Chamber of Commerce has something to do with it.

Did you know we have a state park in town? I know, silly question, but not an inappropriate one. Seems a a lot of folks I've spoken too, mostly new in town, have no idea that just off Route 49 is the Wells State Park. A long access road brings you to 1,400 acres of woodlands with 10 miles of hiking trails, and 60 campsites. There is a beach for the campers, and a boat ramp, for the rest of us, on Walker Pond. In season, there are a few restrooms available.

The photo at the top is of an old mill pond on the Mill Pond Trail. The trail is fairly level, with no steep inclines and is 0.98 miles long. It is a beautiful walk. Several streams and wetlands hide beavers, ducks and herons. The old stone walls cris-cross the property, and line the mill pond and some of the small streams. The photo at the left is of one small stream along the trail.

The Mountain Trail starts at the end of a camp site cul de sac, and goes beside Walker Pond before going straight up the mountain. That incline is a bit steep, but the views are well worth it. The trail loops back to one of the park paved roads. Along your hike near the pond, look to your right at the steep stone laden face of the mountain. Evergreens and moss color the landscape.

The North and South Trails will eventually lead to an incredible view at Carpenters Rocks. If you nothing else this summer here in town, you have to hike this trail for the view. In the early morning, the sunrise on this mountain is something you won't see anywhere else in town. Along the trail to the summit there are streams, small ponds and vernal "puddles" to see, and it is quiet. Very quiet. No sounds of the Pike here. Just woodpeckers, animals scurrying on the fallen leaves, and the occasional greeting from a fellow hiker.

Pack a lunch and time your hike as to enjoy it at the summit.

If you pay close attention to the woodscape around you, you will see where man has touched long ago. The stone walls are obvious, and there are many of them in the park. Each wall lined a planting field long ago. The fields are long overgrown with maples and some evergreens. Occasionally, you will find and ancient tree, 200 to 300 years old on the side of the trail and the walls being built around it.

On the upper half of the Mountain Trail the trail follows an old road. The road, used many years ago by horses and carts is often flanked by stonewalls. Some of the walls go over the streams, and were capped by large flat stones as in the photo below.

When the season turns a bit buggy, be sure to take along insect repellent. And, don't hike without some water as well. The hikes aren't particularly strenuous, but water is something you will want along the way.

If you have a tent, or a camper, try out one of their sites along the Pond, or in the forest. No, it's not stupid to go camping in the town you live in. You will feel as though you are deep in the forest of some small New England town.

And, you are.

For more information, and maps of the camp sites and trails, go to:


  1. In the winter, when the snow/ice are just right, the roads in the park make great sledding and/or cross-country skiing. I assume the trails would be good for snowshoeing as well, but that's something I have not yet done.

  2. As you have pointed out we have so many special places throughout Sturbridge. Ecotourism is a market that Sturbridge might tap into so that others who share the same appreciation, which you have displayed in your writings, will come to enjoy. Sturbridge could be on the radar screen, like other beautiful towns, for visitors who are interested in traveling to places for an experience in nature and shopping in unique shops/boutiques. This could revitalize Main Street, while making our town even more special for residents. This would be a boost for OSV. I hope you'll save your writings for future brochures. You might consider working towards the idea of bringing the ecotourism idea to the forefront. You have a knack of writing in away that would lure those who are interested in vistas, landscape and nature out into areas which are not known about by many. Thank you for your attention to some of the finest details in our Town.

  3. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I strongly believe that Eco-tourism is something that our town must explore, and promote heavily, We have a wonderful river, lakes, trails and a great down town area. If we use our heads, and move quickly, the "Ghost Town" predictions of many will be dispelled. One thing we may consider is initiating a Marketing Department within the town, that in conjunction with the plans on the burner and what we already have could accelerate the process dramatically!


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