Most people who know us know that we love to hike. Heading into the great outdoors is one of our favorite hobbies, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve enjoyed living in California so much – there are lots of nice days that you can spend outside!
Our travel schedule is somewhat based around weather, and we chose to spend October in New England simply because the weather in October is pretty perfect in the Northeast. The heat and humidity of summer are gone, and most of the flying bugs are gone too. Add to that the spectacular leaf show that the Maple, Birch, Beech, and Oak trees put on and there are lots of good reasons to be outside!
New England is also packed full of great places to hike. We only had just so much hiking time available to us, as we were making a point of visiting friends and family, but we took several notable hikes that I’ll share with you below.
Tully Lake Loop Trail
My sister introduced us to the Tully Lake Loop Trail, and on a day in early October we ditched work and headed up to Tully lake. The Lake Loop Trail incorporates part of the Tully Trail – a 22 mile hiking trail in northern Massachusetts, and loops around Tully lake – a 1262 acre reservoir managed by the US Army Corp of Engineers.
The Tully Loop Trail is pretty much the perfect day hike. The trail is relatively level and initially meanders through a disc golf course and a picnic area, then heads into some wilderness right around the edge of the lake. The full loop is approximately 5 miles, and we completed the walk in less then 2 hours. If you’re in the area and looking for a hike, I strongly recommend you check it out. You can find more information about Tully Lake along with maps here.
Climbing Mount Monadnock
On a crisp, clear weekend day in October, I proposed to Kathy that we climb Mt. Monadnock. Mt. Monadnock is a relatively small mountain at only 3165 ft above see level, but it has the advantage of being all by itself as well as being the tallest mountain in New Hampshire south of the White Mountains, and as such has excellent views. The views are so good, and the mountain is so climbable that Mt. Monadnock is the most climbed mountain in the United States, and the 3rd most climbed mountain in the world!
The day we chose for climbing Monadnock was so perfect, that upon our arrival to Monadnock State park we found ourselves in a line of cars waiting to enter. This is one of the downsides of climbing such a popular mountain. Fortunately we were able to find parking at one of the lesser-used trailheads – the toll road – and after paying our fee ($4 each) we headed up the mountain.
Climbing Monadnock is very different from climbing mountains on the west coast. Most of the mountains in California have fire roads and switch back trails, and the climbs are long, but gradual. New England mountain trails go straight up the mountain, and if you’re lucky there are steps on the steep parts. This makes for shorter ascents, but they’re also much harder on the muscles, joints, and lungs – especially when you haven’t climbed anything more than a flight of stairs in months.
On a beautiful day such as the day we climbed you’re rarely alone. Fortunately the toll road trail has a smaller parking lot, and we had long stretches of the trail to ourselves. You can summit Monadnock and
Upon reaching the upper sections of the trail we ran into more people, and by the time we reached to the granite upper sections of the mountain, the slopes were literally strewn with people.
While I’d rather climb with less companions, we were rewarded by the best views I’ve ever had on top of Mt. Monadnock. I could literally see the Boston city skyline 62 miles to the South East and the ocean just beyond! I’ve climbed Monadnock many many times when I was young, and have never been able to see Boston, so I was really happy with the visibility. Added to that the beautiful trees spreading out like a multi-colored carpet in every direction, the lakes dotting the landscape, and the sweet autumn freshness in the air, and we couldn’t have been happier with the day we chose to climb!
The climb down the mountain was quick and uneventful. I think the whole climb up and back took us around 4 hours. We celebrated our climb by stopping in Keene NH on the way home and enjoying an awesome fish sandwich at Elm City Brewing Company – one of the better fish sandwiches I’ve had in my by the way – and then made our way home. All in all a great day!
Walking in the Quabbin Reservoir
The Quabbin Reservoir was created by the flooding of 4 towns back in 1938 – Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott. It’s primary purpose is as a water supply for Boston and surrounding towns and you can learn the details about the Quabbin on Wikipedia.
While the creation of the Quabbin must have been pretty awful for the residents of those towns – they were all forced to leave and their homes were leveled – the upshot is that there are miles and miles of roads still in and around the Quabbin and there’s no traffic! This makes the Quabbin excellent for biking, hiking, and long walks.
The nearest Quabbin gates (parking areas) are only a couple miles from my Mom’s house, so we got in the habit of walking in the Quabbin often while we were in New England. There are still lots of cellar holes and sign posts in the area to remind you that these were once towns, and walking on paved roads you almost expect to see a car at any moment. It’s a bit freaky in a way, but my favorite hikes in New England involve mountains or lakes, and the views around the Quabbin don’t disappoint!
Central Massachusetts is full of excellent hiking opportunities. I covered only 3, but we hiked in several more places as well. October is definitely the best time to hike in New England, as the temps are perfect, the air feel clean and clear, the trees are beautiful, and most importantly there are no flying insects. Until next time, enjoy!