(Family) Wells State Park – Sturbridge

Summer vacation means more family time, and we used that time at the start of July for a hike at Wells State Park in Sturbridge.

I’ve written a few posts in the past about hiking here; it’s a massive property with fairly long trails, and it’s possible to get over 6 miles of hiking in a day fairly easily as I demonstrated in a prior post.  But this hike was a shorter journey, with our daughter dragging her feet a bit (perhaps because nothing is quite as fun as exploring Purgatory Chasm!).

Once again using our State Parks Pass, we parked at the front entrance and made our way on foot around the paved path.  We exited the path to explore Mill Pond Trail, which I think in the summer probably should be renamed Mosquito Trail.  It almost soured us from the trip; even with bug spray it was a constant battle to keep mosquitoes and other insects off of us.

Eager to rescue the expedition, we promised Evie some interesting “climbing” and turned our attention to trying to reach Carpenter’s Rock.  Away from the Pond Trail the bug situation decreased to something livable (though it was still a bit painful at times).



Evie found a toad along the way, which kept her entertained for quite a bit.


We reached the top of the rocks and paused for snacks and refreshments.  With the toad, the snacks, the lack of bugs, and the view, Evie’s mood improved drastically.


It helped that Jess found a snake!


We paused for a couple selfie (Evie refused to pose with us!).


But Evie was fine posing with her toad….


We departed the cliff and returned back the way we came, but then took the long way around (via the paved road) so we could check out the camp sites.  In the end we put in a bit over 3.5 miles.


It’s a beautiful park and I look forward to many more visits here, though I think we’ll stay off the Pond Trail in the summer.

(Solo) Wells State Park – Sturbridge

With my wife and daughter out of town, I had to make a decision on how to spend my Sunday afternoon: watching the Patriots beat up on the Bills, or hiking on a beautiful sunny October day?

Fortunately, I have the technology available to solve this problem — a DVR!  Safe in the knowledge that I could watch the Pats any time on this Sunday, I was free to explore other options.

So it was that after a morning spent with friends at Hamilton, I parked the car at the main lot for Wells State Park, where my wife and I had recently hiked, for another visit.

I decided on this trip that I wanted to uncover the two trails we had skipped on our recent visit — the South Trail and the Mountain Road Trail.  To start, I warmed up on the Mill Pond Loop (the accessible trail), an easy mile with incredibly bright foliage surrounding the small ponds.

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From here, I climbed up the steep trail which leads to Carpenters Rocks.  I took a wrong turn somewhere (it’s hard without my navigator!) but quickly got back on the trail and made my way to the rocky cliff with its views of the slowly changing foliage.  I passed several other hiking groups, families, couples, and groups of friends.  At the Rocks I found the cold remnants of a campfire.  It seems like a dangerous spot to have a fire, to me, but what do I know?

After resting a moment, I continued up the path to the South Trail, which was a totally different beast than the North Trail I had hiked before.  Wider and easier, it was a slow descent to make up for the steep ascent to the Rocks.

I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to fork off from the trail and head along a blue-blazed trail which leads out to New Boston Road.


There, I met up with a father/son group who were just entering the woods.  I paused and drank some water while I let them get ahead of me; I didn’t want to be hot on their heels.  This section of trail has some beautiful spots but bogs down a bit in a marshy area.


After giving the family some room to breathe, I followed back up the blue blazes to the South Trail.  There, they turned left and I turned right, and I sped up a bit to make up some lost time.  The trail ended on the paved park road, and I followed that for a bit while walking past campsites along it.

Eventually, I turned back into the woods at the orange blaze trailhead for the Mountain Road Trail.


This trail was again, completely different.  A slow climb took me through several different types of forests as I got closer to Route 90. I passed several families out for hikes along this trail, due to its proximity to the park’s campsites.

As the trail reached Route 90 and took a sharp turn, it got incredibly steep.  Making my way carefully down the path I wasn’t sure whether I’d rather be hiking down this grade or up it.  Soon, though, it was back on level ground and moving away from the highway.  Before long, to my right the views of Walker Pond began to open up.  My legs were getting tired at this point, but the incredible views rejuvenated my body and spirit.

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Eventually, the trail connected back up with the park road, which I followed back to my car.

I had a close call with a football spoiler as I walked past a campsite playing the game; I heard something about multiple officials and a possible turnover, but I picked up my pace and managed to get out of earshot before anyone announced the score.

When I got back to my car, I learned I had hiked 6.5 miles over some really interesting terrain.  It was an incredibly satisfying hike and I was fortunate to have the time to myself to enjoy it fully.

Hiking alone is very different than hiking with a partner (or a whole family).  Your mind wanders — work, home, deep thoughts, superficial thoughts, and then … nothing, just one foot in front of the other.  Peace.

It’s why I go out there.  It takes a few miles of physical activity before the brain has exhausted itself of its conscious concerns and the unconscious can take over….

I drove home, watched the Pats win their game, and then sneaked back out for a late dinner at BT’s Smokehouse.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday….

Wells State Park – Sturbridge

Our lovely daughter has a gymnastics class that takes up a few hours mid-day on Saturday.  Even after pausing for lunch, we still have some time to get in a hike (or run some errands, or clean the house, but you know, hiking makes for more interesting blog posts), which is what we did on this day.

We’ve explored Wells State Park a few times since we moved out here, but we hadn’t been in a few years.  You can check out the trail map on the state web page here.

We parked at the visitor lot, and started with a brief loop around the heart-healthy Mill Pond Trail.  This is an easy mile, designed to be accessible to everyone.  It warmed us up for the remainder of the hike.

We then switched gears and took the North Trail, a 2.3 mile trek over some rougher terrain and moderate hills that gave our legs quite the workout.  We paused a few times, including a moment looking out where the power lines crossed overhead and filled the air with an audible and disconcerting hum.


Not far from here we saw a decorated pine someone had decided needed some Christmas ornamentation.  We snapped a couple shots and continued.


We stepped off the North Trail and took a detour over to Carpenters Rocks, with its views out over Sturbridge.  We paused and drained the rest of our water before making the return hike to the car.


Overall we were on the trail for about 3.5 miles, over some pretty rugged terrain.  A great hike and there are more trails to explore on the property.  We’ll definitely be back.