Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Traveling: Wandering, Never Lost: Travelogue #1 - Watkins Glen, July 22 - 24, 2013

Many thanks to Jack Aiello of Wandering, Never Lost, our newest contributor to Adventures in the Outdoors! 

Watkins Glen, NY is Gorges. I know, I know. That was groan-worthy, but I have to write about this trip while it's still fresh in my mind. Watkins Glen marks my fifth trip to New York's sublime Finger Lakes Region (Skaneateles still remains my favorite, but only by a narrow margin).

Seneca Lake is capped by two major small towns, Geneva at its north point and Watkins Glen at the southern tip. In Watkins Glen, North and South Franklin Streets are the town's main thoroughfare and it's appropriately dotted with Mom and Pop shops intermingled with some franchise restaurant chains. The downtown area looks to be in fits of revival; there's a mix of new and old that lends an overall shabby chic quality to the surroundings: a cool movie theater, a decent variety of restaurant choices, the upscale Harbor Hotel, but there are also abandoned and outdated storefronts. Overall however, Watkins Glen exudes the charm of a small hometown.

In the middle of downtown, you come across the town's crowning jewel, Watkins Glen State Park. I took exactly 444 photographs of this place and if you've ever experienced its singular beauty, you'll understand why I wasted so much disk space. This is a place where you witness firsthand what time and nature can accomplish. It alternately fascinates and depresses me. The fascination part is easy to explain: with some running water and the passing of countless millenia, an old creek bed is transformed into the deep wide gorge it is today. It's the earth cracked open, a scar revealing just a peek into her age and mystery.

It helps to think of the gorge as a Grand Canyon in the making.  However, unlike the Grand Canyon, the park is more accessible and interactive. While the Canyon's sheer scope awes you into stupefaction, it accomplishes the effect with its size and distance. As such, it allows you to be no more than an observer. The Gorge at Watkins Glen invokes the same effect, but with intimacy.

By walking along the trails, you arrive at the same dumbstruck sensation. Water drips on your shoulder from jutting shelves of rock, your feet get caked with mud. There's the dank smell of earthy moss, and your face gets misted from a violent onrush of water smashing against a wall of rock below. As you literally walk through a waterfall, the experience is really no less awesome.

At the northern trails, the weather gets drier and sunnier.  Looking down, the gorge resembles a dense neon green rainforest. Curtains of water and rivulets all march to collect at the bottom, towards the center vein of rushing water that continues its ceaseless carving of the landscape.

But to explain why it depresses me, well that's a little trickier. Travel means exploration, but it's also a displacement from the creature comforts of home. It invites introspection; new thoughts begin to form that the daily routine of life can invariably inhibit. No matter how well we'd like to think we distract ourselves, the truth that we're not long for this earth is always there. Our bodies are temporary vessels on loan from the earth, and traveling can sadly remind us how little time we have to enjoy nature's beauty.

Reason #112 to love "The Sopranos": in an episode when Carmela visits Paris, the altered setting allowed her to shed all the minutiae and social trappings of her New Jersey life. She was able to shift her thoughts and perspective, and plangently observed - with gut churning precision, I might add - the reason why travel can enlighten, thrill and leave us so deeply saddened at the naked reality:

"We worry so much, sometimes it feels like it's all we do, but in the end it just gets washed away. All of it just gets washed away."

Be sure to visit Wandering, Never Lost to read more about Jack's adventures!

Looking for more information about Watkins Glen?

Visit the Watkins Glen State Park website and check out books like Hiking Waterfalls in New York, Five Star Trails in the Finger Lakes, and Waterfalls and Gorges of the Finger Lakes to get more information about this great destination!

Friday, September 4, 2015

News: New Executive Director Jeff Senterman, Recipients of Evers & Ginsberg Awards, Announced at Summer Gathering of the Catskill Center

Some great news about our main contributor Jeff Senterman!

August 29th, 2015 - MOUNT TREMPER, New York---The Catskill Center announced at its annual Summer Gathering the appointment of Jeff Senterman to the position of Executive Director. The announcement by Jim Infante, Chairman of the Board of Directors, was made at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, during the summer gathering of the organization’s membership.
Jeff Senterman joins the Catskill Center from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, based in Mahwah, NJ, where he was the Senior Program Coordinator for the Trail Conference.
Jeff joined the Catskill Center as Associate Director in 2015 after working for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference as the program coordinator for the Catskill region and manager of regional trail programs. In addition to bringing non-profit, environmental planning and office management experience to his post, Jeff has the experience of growing up and working in the Catskills and in a number of other areas. Jeff has worked as an environmental planner for the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission; Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission; and for Waterman Design Associates.  He also worked as a New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation assistant forest ranger in Greene County.  Jeff is an avid hiker and outdoorsman who has spent a lot of time hiking in the Catskills, Adirondacks, and New England. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Lyndon State College in Vermont, with a concentration in environmental science.

Jeff said, “I am honored and excited to lead the Catskill Center as the Executive Director.  I have a deep love and appreciation for the Catskills and look forward to ensuring that the Catskill Center protects and fosters the well-being of the Catskills for everyone,” about his recent move to the Catskill Center. “I look forward to strengthening the Catskill Center's current programs including the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, our efforts to fight invasive species in the Catskills, improve our two nature preserves, ensure the success of our new riparian buffer partnership with NYC DEP and continue to support arts and culture throughout the Catskills. I also look forward to working with our existing partners and developing new relationships throughout the Catskills to continue to move ahead.”

Jim Infante, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said “I am most pleased that, as the result of a thorough and very extensive search, the Search Committee forwarded the name of Jeff Senterman for appointment as Executive Director of the Catskill Center. The Board of the Center has enthusiastically voted to appoint Jeff, effective September 1, 2015, to the post. Personally, I have the highest regard for Jeff, having interacted with him extensively first when he headed the activities of the NY/NJ Trail Conference here in the Catskills, and subsequently as Associate Director of the Center. I feel that the Center is in very good hands with Jeff as its leader, and I look forward to work intimately with him in the pursuit of the goals of conservation and economic development of our beloved Catskills.”

Also announced at the annual Summer Gathering were the recipients of the prestigious Alf Evers award for excellence, presented to Catskill Mountainkeeper for outstanding leadership and commitment to protection of the Catskill region. Ramsay Adams, Executive Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper accepted the award. Sherret S. Chase, founding president of the Catskill Center, whose dream of developing a Catskill Interpretive Center became a reality earlier this summer, received the prestigious Ginsberg Award for outstanding leadership and commitment to both the Catskill Center and the region. 

Since 1969, the Catskill Center has led the effort to protect the more than 700,000 acres of the Catskill Park and Catskill Forest Preserve. They are the major force advocating for the Catskill region. The mission of the Catskill Center is to protect and foster the environmental, cultural and economic well-being of the Catskill region.

Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  We also have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Advice: Alternatives to Kaaterskill Falls | Catskill Mountains, NY

We put this together for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and others to use this summer in the Catskills while the trails around Kaaterskill Falls are being improved and access is limited.  This short guide should help you find information about additional walking, hiking and swimming options in the Catskills and provide you with some resources for your visit to the region to ensure you have an enjoyable visit even if you can't make it to Kaaterskill Falls!

Visit the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper!

The recently opened Catskill Interpretive Center, operated by the Catskill Center and a partnership of regional organizations, is a visitor center for the Catskill Park and the space for the interpretation of our natural and cultural resources. Staff and volunteers are on hand to provide information on trails, recreation, local communities and more! The Interpretive Center is home to the Catskills only fully accessible walking trail and offers the opportunity to walk and fish on the site. The Interpretive Center is open from 9:30am to 4:30pm, 7 days a week and is located at 5096 Route 28 in the Village of Mount Tremper.

Get Trail Maps for your Adventures!

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference publishes a 6-map set that covers over 400 miles of trails in the Catskill Park. The printed set is available at local retailers and you can purchase and download it directly to your smartphone or tablet at http://www.nynjtc.org/content/pdfmaps-catskills-qr.

Get Current Trail Conditions

The Trail Conference provides weekly trail updates for the trails of the Catskills that are indispensable to visitors looking to explore the park.

Easy Hike Options

North & South Lake Campground Trails and the Kaaterskill Rail Trail: These nearby trails are your best option overall as an alternative to Kaaterskill Falls. The trails feature views of Kaaterskill Clove and the Hudson Valley. Download the Trail Conference’s free guide to the trails of the region.

Onteora Lake Area: Located near Kingston on Route 28, the Onteora Lake area includes a large parking area, 3 easy loop hikes and lake-side picnic areas Ashokan Reservoir: Located near Kingston and just south of Shokan off of Route 28. There is plenty of parking and a great easy walk on a hard packed/pave surface where you can walk, bike or push a stroller. Amazing views of the reservoir, the mountains and a great place to see a bald eagle!

Windham Path: The Windham Path offers an easy walk near the village of Windham just off Route 23. There’s plenty of parking and views of the surrounding mountains as you walk along the path.

Pratt Rock: Located in Prattsville, Pratt Rock is a hiking and picnicking destination with beautiful views of the Schoharie River Valley and historical stone carvings. Located on Route 23 in the Village of Prattsville.

Catskill Scenic Trail: The 26 mile former railroad offers walkers, hikers, bikers and horseback riders the opportunity to experience the Catskills close up in a friendly, easy to walk way. Running between Roxbury and Bloomville in Delaware County, the trail is accessible in a number of locations along Routes 10, 23 and 30.

Waterfalls and Swimming

North Lake Beach: Located in the North & South Lake State Campground, the North Lake Beach offers a beautiful swimming area surrounded by the mountains of the Catskills.

Platte Clove Preserve:
Located at the head of Platte Clove, there is plenty of parking at the parking lot on Steenburgh Road. There’s a short road walk and then a short, easy hike down to Plattekill Falls, a beautiful waterfall. Platte Clove Preserve is located at 2375 Platte Cove Road in Elka Park.

Colgate Lake: Colgate Lake is located in the Town of Jewett on Colgate Lake Road (County Route 78), which is off of County Route 23C. The lake offers swimming and picnicking areas, along with the opportunity to paddle if you’ve brought a boat.

More Hiking Options

Colgate Lake Trail: There are miles of relatively flat wooded trails in the area, along with a very interesting beaver meadow with great views. To the beaver meadow and back is approximately 5 miles

Catskill Fire Towers: Each summer, thousands of people from all over the world visit the fire towers to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the Catskill Mountains. Volunteer interpreters welcome these visitors, sharing the history and lore of the fire towers and of the Catskill Mountains. Fire Towers are located on Hunter Mountain, Overlook Mountain, Balsam Lake Mountain, Red Hill and Tremper Mountain. Visit the Catskill Center's Fire Tower Project page for detailed maps for each of the five towers.

Acra point and Burnt Knob: A more challenging hike and more of a wilderness experience along the Escarpment Trail, this approximately 5 mile round trip hike features stiff climbs and great views of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley. The trail begins on Big Hollow Road in Maplecrest.

Giant Ledge: A challenging, 3 mile roundtrip hike that offers some of the most incredible views in the Catskills. This is a very popular hiking destination and the parking lot fills up early on weekends. The hike is steep with some rocky scrambles and be sure to arrive early before the parking lot fills. The trailhead and parking area is located on Oliverea Road (County Route 47).

Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  We also have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.


News: Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center Opens | Catskill Mountains, NY

Catskill Interpretive Center to become a gateway to the many recreational experiences in the Catskills!

On July 1, 2015, the Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens officially opened the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center on Rt. 28 in the Town of Shandaken, Ulster County, which will serve as a gateway for visitors to the Catskill Park and the Catskills Forest Preserve to learn about the vast outdoor recreation opportunities in the area as well as to discover the region's rich history and ecology. The $1.3 Million project was funded with approximately $500,000 from New York Works, $420,000 from the State's Environmental Protection Fund and a $380,000 federal Housing and Urban Development grant.

"The Catskill Forest Preserve is home to breathtaking mountains and pristine waterways that offer an abundance of recreational adventures," said Commissioner Martens. "Now, with the opening of the Catskill Interpretive Center, visitors will be welcomed to the region through a magnificent resource that showcases all the Catskills' has to offer - from hiking in serene mountain settings and fishing in legendary trout streams and reservoirs to awe-inspiring natural beauty and unique cultural attractions."

"Thanks to the cooperation and hard work of our partners and DEC staff, the dream of this Center is now a reality," continued Commissioner Martens. "The Center was made possible through the Governor's New York Works program, the Environmental Protection Fund and the HUD grant secured by Congressman Hinchey. We could not have achieved this important milestone for the Catskills without key investments being made by partners like the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Friends of the Catskill Visitors and New York City Department of Environmental Protection. This Center will showcase the region's vast natural resources and recreational opportunities."

The Center features a topographic floor map display with projected images from above that highlights the natural resources and other interesting assets in the region. Visitors will be able to explore the Catskill's extraordinary recreational, cultural and historic opportunities as well as a variety of tourist services through the Center's iPads and wall displays. The Center's displays, activities and staff will advance environmental education, cultural and natural resource stewardship and outdoor recreational opportunities that enhance the Catskill region and promote economic development opportunities.

Governor Cuomo has invested the State's staff and capital resources to expand access to outdoor recreational opportunities across New York to expand and improve the State's tourism industry-one of the top employers and economic generators in the state and region. The state's Environmental Protection Fund financed the acquisition of more than 2,300 acres of open space in the Catskills in recent years and more acquisitions are underway. The Governor's New York Works initiative have provided funds for accessible trails and parking areas to improve recreational opportunities for visitors and residents of the Catskills. And, in May 2015, DEC awarded $400,000 in Catskill Smart Growth grants to municipalities and non-profit organizations to enable communities to enhance their economic viability and promote the Catskills as the wonderful tourist destination that it is.

DEC will build interpretive trails at the site with NY Works funding. The site is conveniently located on State Route 28 in the Hamlet of Mt. Tremper, Town of Shandaken, Ulster County. For more information on the CIC, visit www.catskillinterpretivecenter.org and like and follow them on Facebook.

The Friends of the Catskill Interpretive Center, working under the umbrella of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, will operate the 1,700-square-foot Center seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) will contribute $20,000 per year for the first five years toward operating expenses of the Center.

The Center is staffed through a partnership including the Catskill Center, the NY-NJ Trail Conference, Catskill Mountain Club, Ulster County Tourism and Catskill Mountainkeeper. The Catskill Watershed Corporation contributed $40,000 for exhibits and $10,000 per year for five years toward operating expenses, and donated $38,000 for a replica observer's cabin to accompany an historic fire tower to be erected at the site.

The Center is named in honor of retired Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey, who championed the Center for decades. As a state Assemblyman, Congressman Hinchey led the charge for the Catskill Interpretive Center and secured the original funding to get the project started in the 1980s. Hinchey worked with then-Governor Mario Cuomo to obtain additional funding to advance the project, including securing property in Mount Tremper and initial site development. Congressman Hinchey most recently helped secure a $380,000 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant toward building the facility.

"This glorious day is the fulfillment of a 30-year dream made possible by the passion and persistence of so many dedicated people, from hard-working public officials at every level of government to devoted community groups across the region," said retired Congressman Hinchey. "The NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation and The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development have my heartfelt appreciation for bringing this marvelous center to completion. I am very honored to have it named for me, and delighted that it will introduce many thousands of people to the treasures of the Catskill Mountains."

Senator James L. Seward said, "The new Catskill Interpretive Center will help highlight all the Catskills has to offer - drawing new explorers to the region and offering area families and residents with yet another terrific resource. The center, together with other new initiatives, is part of a cohesive, locally developed strategy to boost our vibrant tourism industry, grow our small businesses, and showcase the grandeur of the Catskills for generations to come."

New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd said, "Congratulations to the many volunteers and advocates who worked for decades to see the Catskill Interpretive Center built. The Center will help thousands of annual visitors interpret the history of the Catskills, while also pointing them toward outdoor recreation access, farm-to-table food, local artisans and many other attractions that make the region scenic and vibrant. DEP has been a proud partner in this effort, and we will continue to work with our watershed neighbors to expand, improve and promote outdoor recreation and tourism in the Catskills."

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said, "The Shandaken area has continued to grow and develop, and the opening of the Catskill Interpretive Center will certainly be an important additional resource for the region. Visitors from all over the country are drawn to Ulster County to witness its pristine natural beauty and take advantage of the countless outdoor activities available. This center will allow residents and visitors alike, to realize a deep and meaningful bond with the area and have a greater appreciation for our rich and diverse history. The Interpretive Center will stand as a constant reminder of Congressman Maurice Hinchey's steadfast environmental commitment and he remains a visionary, role model and mentor for us all; without his continued support, this new innovative Interpretive Center would not have become a reality."

Shandaken Town Supervisor Robert Stanley, "The Town of Shandaken, the 'Heart of the Park,' extends its gratitude to all the organizations and individuals responsible for the Maurice Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center. We invite all visitors to our fair community as we embrace the honor of being the host community welcoming neighbors far and wide to the Catskill Mountains for generations to come."

"The Catskill Center takes great pride in the partnerships that allow us to take this step in branding the Catskills as a world-class destination," said Alan White, Executive Director, Catskill Center.

Catskill Mountainkeeper Executive Director Ramsay Adams, "The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center is a great example of how when dedicated folks share a vision and through perseverance can accomplish extraordinary things. Mountainkeeper is proud to be a partner and we look forward to working with the DEC and our partners in introducing this wonderful new facility to the millions of visitors that come to the Catskill Park."

Find out more about the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center

You can visit the Interpretive Center's website, follow the Interpretive Center on Facebook and learn more about the Catskill Center, the organization that operates and manages the Interpretive Center in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  We also have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hiking: Wachusett Mountain Via Bolton Pond, Semuhenna and Old Indian Trails | Princeton, Massachusetts

Wachusett Mountain is located in the north central area of Massachusetts, north of the City of Worcester and not that far south from the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border.  The small reservation offers a surprisingly varied number of hiking trails with opportunities to explore forests, streams, small ponds and there are great views from the summit area and a number of other overlooks.

The Wachusett Mountain State Reservation contains about 3,000 acres of protected land, including the summit of the mountain, along with about 17 miles of hiking trails.  The Wachusett Ski Area is also located on the mountain and there is an automobile road to the top for those who wish to drive instead of hike the mountain.

Getting to Wachusett Mountain

Access to the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation is mostly from Mountain Road, located in Princeton, Massachusetts.  The road runs along the base of Wachusett Mountain and provides access to a number of trails, the automobile road to the summit and the ski area.  There is also a visitor center located at 345 Mountain Road to introduce visitors to the area.  Fees are required during the summer season to access the auto road.

Wachusett Mountain Trails

With 17 miles of trails, you can find several different ways to climb to the summit of Wachusett Mountain from a number of different starting points   Our trip began in the north at the Bolton Pond Trailhead, but there are at least five other trailheads you could begin at.

Trails are generally well maintained and easy to follow, though compared to other locations there is little signage and the trail makers are not always easy to follow.  We were turned around at one trail junction because of a lack of signage and clear trail markers that we didn't realize until we had been walking for several minutes on the wrong trail.

The park publishes a simple brochure and map for the area that all hikers should have.  It provides trail descriptions, park information and the map provides enough detail for average hikers to enjoy the area.  Hiking without a map while never advisable, would be a big mistake here due to the lack of clear trail signage on the trails.

Wachusett Mountain trails are described in the Appalachian Mountain Club's Massachusetts Trail Guide guidebook.  This book makes a good reference and guide to the area's many hiking opportunities.

Wachusett Mountain via Bolton Pond, Balance Rock, Semuhenna, Harrington and Old Indian Trails

As you can tell from the list of trails above, in order to do a loop on Wachusett Mountain, you will likely be hiking on several different trails.  We began our hike at the Bolton Pond Trailhead, which is located at the north side of the reservation and is off of Bolton Road.  The trail begins on the south side of Bolton Road and begins by climbing steadily upward to Bolton Pond.  Bolton Pond is reached at about 0.3 miles and the trail turns to the left (sharply) before reaching the pond's edge.  Be sure to watch for the trail markers and the small sign, otherwise you may end up descending on another unofficial trail that leaves from the same area.  Bolton Pond is a small pond that offers some wildlife viewing and a nice spot for a picnic, especially on the northern shore, which is less wet and offers some open areas for relaxing.

From Bolton Rock, the trail continues climbing at a reasonable pace another 0.3 miles to Balance Rock.  This large balanced rock is left from the times when glaciers covered this area.  At this point, the Bolton Pond Trail ends and you now follow the Balance Rock Trail a short distance to Balance Rock Road (a non-public, dirt roadway used by the park).  There the Balance Rock Road ends and you are now on the co-located Old Indian Trail and the Semuhenna Trail.

Following the co-located trails and continuing to climb steadily, stay to the right and stay on the Semuhenna Trail when the Old Indian Trail leaves to the left.  Continue on the Semuhenna Trail, cross the automobile road, running near the top of some of the ski runs and past its intersection with the West Side Trail and its second intersection with the automobile road.  Through this area the trail passes a bog, small streams and several other interesting areas along the way.

From the second crossing of the auto road to the Semuhenna Trail's end at its intersection with the Harrington Trail, the hike is almost level as you follow a shelf on Wachusett Mountain.  To your right the mountain slopes down and to your left there are increasingly large rock formations as the mountain slopes steeply up to the summit.

You'll reach the end of the Semuhenna Trail at about 1.8 miles from your start.  Here you head up Wachusett Mountain on the Harrinton Trail.  The Trail begins to climb very steeply almost immedietely, climbing through and over several boulders and very rocky areas.  The steepness of the Harrington Trail moderates signficantly as you cross the auto road and make the short climb to the actual summit of Wachusett Mountain.

There is a small visitor center, parking area for the auto road and observation platform at the summit of Wachusett Mountain.  We found it to be a great place to have lunch.  On a clear day you can see from Boston to the mountains of New Hampshire.

From the summit, we followed the Old Indian Trail northward, slowly descending off the broad summit of Wachusett and then descendign more steeply just before you cross the auto road.  Following the auto road crossing, the trail crosses several of the ski area's ski slopes.  The trail can be difficult to follow in this area and we ended up having to walk up and down the ski slopes in a few places to figure out where the trail re-entered the woods to ensure we were on the right path.

Once back in the woods, the trail continues descedning and comes to the trail junction with teh Semuhenna Trail.  Follow the co-located trails down the mountain to Balance Rock Road and then follow the Balance Rock Trail to Balance Rock.  There take the Bolton Pond Trail to return to your vehicle at the Bolton Pond Trailhead.

All in all this loop offers about 4.5 miles of hiking in a loop with very little backtracking on trails that you have already hiked. We found it to be a really enjoyable way to spend about half the day and the summit of Wachusett made for a great place to enjoy our sandwiches and have lunch.

For more Information on Hikes and Walks in Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston Region

For more hiking and walking options in Massachusetts and the Boston region, the Appalachian Mountain Club publishes a Trail Guide for Trails in Massachusetts and a Trail Guide for the 60 Best Hikes Near Boston.