Continuing our quest to find deserted trails, we picked a middle section of the Wapack trail that we have only hiked once, and a side trail which isn’t even on open street maps. In fact, we decided our goal for the next few weeks can be to map out trails which aren’t on open street maps. We can’t go to any of the classic nice places, so we might as well do something useful while hunting for out of the way trails.
Last fall, as an impulse buy at the local book store, I picked up a paper guide to the Wapack trail and a full color map. It described a Berry Pasture trail in Sharon with good views west to Monadnock. With a bit of road walk, we could turn the hike into a lollipop shape. The views were good. In fact so good that I wondered why neither Tyson nor I had remembered them from when we believe we section hiked the whole Wapack trail, and why had we not come back.
We planned to park at the Berry Pasture trailhead on Mountain Road. To our surprise, we found a sign at the beginning of Mountain Road saying it was closed through April 10th. Good news, today was April 12th. Google had indicated there was both a parking area for the Berry Pasture trail and for the Lincoln Davis Town Forest. Nothing else mentioned parking for the town forest, so we assumed google was wrong. Yet when we got there, we found the town forest parking on the left where google had said. And straight ahead, at that moment, a pickup truck was backing up the road towards us. We decided to park in the town forest parking lot. The pickup truck drove backward a bit, then forward, then turned around, then sat there for while and finally crept off towards Sharon town center.
We first hiked the road around to the Wapack trailhead. The parking lot had two spaces left. The first bit of the trail is broad and boring, but then it climbs to the top of tumbled down cliffs. There we found lots of views. The views to the east were completely open above the ledges. The friends of the Wapack maintain a few views on the more gradual western slope. Those views are still open, but they are starting to grow back in with birches. We saw lots of turkey vultures soaring and a few other large birds. Tyson thought it might be migration season. Looking east, I was surprised by the discontinuity between this part of the Wapack ridge and Kidder Mountain. There is a big valley between the two. How had I never noticed that when flying back and forth between Brookline and Jaffrey?
Also looking south-east, we could see the open slope on Windblown. The Wapack trail guide had talked about all the abandoned ski areas along the trail, and how Windblown was the last active ski area on the trail. But no more. This spring, they closed for good. Another victim of climate change. I miss skiing there.
Isaac grumbled about it, but we made it to Holt Peak before turning around on our lollipop stick. We saw at least 10 other groups of people hiking the Wapack Trail. In normal times, you rarely see both halves of a couple hiking together. Usually you see groups of friends. This day it was almost all couples, or families. As Tyson noted, you could tell which half of the couple usually hiked and which half was only out because there was nothing else to do.
We left everyone behind when we turned onto the Berry Pasture trail. Overall this trail is less scenic. The top part is in the woods with no views. Mid way down, the trail traverses what used to be a commercial blueberry pasture. According to the trail guide, the blueberry pasture was abandoned and grew in with trees. Then, recently, the friends of the Wapack logged the area to reopen it as a pasture for wildlife. Well, it is now covered in 30 foot tall birches again. Then, below that, is a much more recent logged area. They had left a surprising number of mature paper birches. In the Whites and in the Adirondacks the paper birches are dying out, partly due to climate change, but also partly due to natural forest succession. It’s nice to see healthy white pillars of paper birch.
The signs for the Berry Pasture trail were a bit of a mystery. The trail guide says the trail is 1.0 mile long. Our GPS agreed. The most recent trail sign at the junction with the Wapack trail also said 1.0 miles. But the older signs at the top and bottom say 1.7 miles. Did they reroute it or mess up making the sign?
I brought my macro lens to capture the start of spring.
Tyson updated open street maps with our track, so you should see the trail in a few days.