Monday, October 10, 2016

MA NET Sections 12-14 Quabbin Part 2

Early morning at Quabbin
Good morning and welcome to Day 2 of my Quabbin hike. I hung out in my warm sleeping bag in Shutesbury State Forest until my husband texted that he was about to leave Connecticut, figuring it would take us both about 2.5 hours to get to Lake Wyola. It was cold and I was going to have to put my soaking wet socks and boots back on since I mysteriously left my extra pair at home.

Some nice young forest coming in along the trail. 
The hike was more cheerful than the previous day with the rising sun and the promise of meeting my husband in a few hours. The easy walk along old woods roads continued. All through the north part of Quabbin there were signs of old farmland with old roads lined by stone walls and very old wolf sugar maples.  The trail headed down from the hilltop into another hole where a stream passed through a stone culvert/bridge. This seems to mark the end of Section 13 and the beginning of Section 14.  Four and a half miles to go.

Old drainage works
Eventually the trail headed off the old roads and into the forest. This part was still marked with survey tape, and it was a good thing, because a few spots would have been hard to follow otherwise. The ground was very uneven and hummocky through hemlocks and I began to see why the NET was routed onto old roads. And also began to appreciate how much work must have gone into make those old farm roads.

New trail tread
Before long the trail came out onto another old road and a long narrow pond that was simply gorgeous in the morning light. I looked for a moose but didn't find one.

Pond along New Boston Road (closed to traffic)

Baby fir trees lined the road and I pulled off a branch and crushed it. Smells like Christmas! And also like northern New England. These don't grow where I live except at a tree farm.

Fir saplings along the trail
This old road finally came out to a gate marked WN 1 and continued up a gravel road marked by a sign that said "Rockwell Hill Road." This road was open to traffic. It's not always clear on the various maps which roads are open to traffic and which roads are closed. Google Maps gets confused, too.

Rockwell Hill Road
And then begins a long road walk down Jennison Road to Lake Wyola. Maybe 2.5 miles left.

Junction of Rockwell Hill, Jennison, and yet another Cooleyville Road. 
Walking this road feels like old rural New England without the tourism. Nice. It's mostly woods, a few parts logged, with a scattering of homes and farms.

Sugar shack on the hill

An old farm gone upscale

Not Lake Wyola. 

Jennison Road finally descended down towards civilization and Lake Wyola, where there is a collection of homes and cabins around the lake, and an old town center. 

Lake Wyola
There I met my husband walking up the road to meet me. Yay! He had parked at the main lot at Lake Wyola State Park and tried following the white blazes, so he knew where they left the road. This turned out to be a big help. The blazing at Lake Wyola is a disaster. Sometimes the blazes are in conflict and at other times there just isn't any blazing where you need it.

So which is it? Left or right?
But my husband was able to navigate us back to the big parking lot at Lake Wyola, which was a nice spot and we explored at bit. There was a phone booth. I don't know if it still works or not, but it makes sense to have one there since there doesn't appear to be any cell phone service.

Haven't seen one of these in a while.
There's a big complex of old buildings across from the beach that they seem to be restoring. Impressive.

Historic buildings at the state park. 
I crossed the street to the beach and took off my wet boots and socks to walk in the cold sand barefoot. Nice! Even better were the dry shoes and socks in the car.

Lake Wyola beach
It was almost lunch time, so we had a bit to eat, picked up my car from Shutesbury Road, and stopped at an overlook on MA 202. I think that might be Mt. Monadnack in the distance.

We then headed for our room at the French King Restaurant and Motel next to the Connecticut River and the French King Bridge. It's a classic 1950s motel that was remodeled after a fire in 2015, conveniently located near the NET.

After a nice hot shower we ventured across the river to the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls. Loved it. Saw a stuffed moose.

Diorama at the Great Falls Discovery Center
Behind the Discovery Center was a walkway along a huge old power canal, so we had a nice walk along that and watched the sun set. The area is fascinating with lots of scenery and history. Found a YouTube video that does a nice job of giving an overview of the falls and power dam and history.

Power canal behind the Discovery Center
Then we slipped into Hubies Tavern and had a couple beers and a great meal. Loved it!
Power canal at Turners Falls


  1. Hi, Teresa, been following your blog for a while now, and I just realized you are using Uber to get from trailhead to trailhead, since you're a solo hiker. I am a solo hiker as well, and, probably because I am an "old," I just realized that I, too, could use Uber to do what you're doing and do point-to-point hiking. Can I ask, what does it cost? And can you book in advance, considering cell service at trailheads can be chancy at best? Thanks for any info!

    1. It's typically run me about $10 for the fare plus the tip. They do have some kind of reserve fare, but then you're obligated to be there at that time, and if you have a long drive through traffic that can be a problem. For all but one ride, I got a ride at the beginning of my hike so that I knew my car would be there at the end. Also, once the app is installed on your phone, you can pull up the map screen on other days before your ride to get an idea of what is available. I did that multiple times, and there was always an Uber driver available, so I wasn't too worried. On the NET, there shouldn't be any trouble from the Mass line up through the Holyoke Range. Cell service (Verizon) is great because they put the cell towers on the ridgeline. I was also able to get a ride directly east of Amherst, on Shutesbury Road 2, and that's as far as it goes. For cell coverage, look for a coverage map (Verizon has one). They are not 100% accurate, but pretty close.