July 26, 2011

Hiking--the best way to discover the "Great Outdoors"

Many of us first encounter the joys of hiking as a Girl Scout or Boy Scout. And hiking can be fun and adventurous for children, adults  and families.  Not only is hiking fun, it also leads to relaxation and  better health.  In fact studies have shown that hiking 3 to 4 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can strengthen you heart, lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, decrease back pain, decrease pain from arthritis, reduce weight and slow the aging process.  Can you imagine something that is fun and enjoyable is actually beneficial?!

Central Massachusetts has many great places to hike and many of them are just a short drive (or hike) from Clamber Hill.  The closest place to hike is out the back door, through our woods and into Harvard Forest.  It takes about 90 minutes to hike down the hill to Havard Pond....and then of course another 90 minutes back to the Inn.  There are lots of "loops" in the woods though so you can adjust your hiking time and distance with ease.

Hiking with the dogs at Jacobs Hill

Hiking with the dogs at Jacobs Hill

Innkeepers Mark & Deni Ellis love to hike, especially with their dogs, and have many recommendations for the overnight guests interested in hiking.  There are twelve Trustees of Reservation Properties in Central Massachusestt and nine of them are very close to the Inn.  Three are right in Petersham, the North Common Meadow, James W. Brooks Woodland Preserve and the Swift River Reservation and hiking with dogs is allowed.  A fourth property is just down the road in Phillipston, the Elliot Laurel Reservation-beautiful when the mountain laurel are in bloom.  The next closest to the inn, all have beautiful waterfalls to be enjoyed along with the hike:  Doane's Falls in Athol, Bear's Den in New Salem, Jacobs Hill in Royalston and Royalston Falls (also in Royalston).  And the ninth is Rock House Reservation in West Brookfield.

Hiking alongside Doane's Falls in Athol MA

Hiking alongside Doane's Falls in Athol MA

Another great place to hike is the Quabbin (however your canine companions must be left behind).  The Quabbin Reservoir, a 39 sq mile body of water, holding 412 billion gallons of water when it is full.  The reservoir has 181 miles of shoreline and 55 "Gates" which are basically old roads turned into hiking trails which lead in most cases to the shore line.  Most of the "Gates" take you to the shoreline with hikes of  1 to 3 miles.  One of the most popular Gates is number 40 which leads to the old Dana Town Common.  One can still see the old cellar holes surrounding the Dana Common.

And this is just the beginning of the list.  There is also the Federated  Women's Club State Forest on the Petersham/New Salem line, the Long Trail at Tully Lake, trails in the Wendell Sate Forest, the Erving State Forest, the Otter River State Forest, the Lake Dennison Recreation Area, the Mt. Grace State Forest, the Rutland State Park etc. etc. etc.

And if you love to climb while you hike, Mt. Monadnock is just a short drive away in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.  It is the most climbed mountain in North America and there are many different trails leading to the top.

Mt. Monadnock

Mt. Monadnock, one of the most frequently hiked mountains in the world.

So there is an abundance of opportunity for hiking, trekking, rambling, tramping, bushwhacking or whatever term you happen to use for walking in a natural environment here in Central Massachusetts.   And not only are the Clamber Hill innkeepers ready and willing to offer advice and maps, but they also have a library of books on hiking opportunities in the area.  Come for a day or come for a week-but come to Central Massachusetts because August, September and October (up to the start of hunting season) is the best time of year to get out there and discover the truly "Great Outdoors".

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