Forever Wild Preserve

Location: Southbridge, MA (Route 198)

Links: Trail map; Opacum Land Trust

Date: January 18th, 2018

Time: 8:30 am – 10:00 am

Hike Duration: 1.5 hours; one mile

Weather: Sunny, gorgeous blue sky, about 15-20 degrees F (Let’s just say it was so cold my eyelashes had icicles!)

Okay, truth be told, there was no lunch today. The views were still fantastic though!

This is one of our favorite trails. It’s our go-to trail when other commitments force us to shorten our time in the woods. I honestly didn’t think we’d get out here today, but I’m thankful we made it happen. What a gorgeous day to be outside in the winter woods!

This trail is a mile long loop trail. We came in off the road and followed the loop to the right first, taking us through the stone wall. The woods were a winter wonderland today, trees looking like sugary confections. The wind would occasionally pick up, causing a haze of glitter as it lifted the fine snow off the branches and into the air, sparkling in the sunshine.

Dennis

Funny story. We hiked here towards the end of last winter. There were sections of trail where the snow was deep, so the hiking was a little more strenuous. As we approached the truck at the end of our hike, I realized Dennis’s backpack was completely unzipped and flapping open! We had to hike half way back in to where we had stopped for lunch, recovering everything that had dropped out along the way. I suppose it wasn’t so funny at the time, but it’s one of my favorite memories now.

The rising sun was spectacular

On our hike last week, Dennis mentioned to me about keeping his head up and allowing his eyes to take in a wider, more panoramic perspective of the trail and surrounding woods. He is incredibly observant and often notices things I wouldn’t have seen myself. After practicing this today, I realize how often I’m looking down and allowing myself to get lost in my thoughts. Thoughts that are causing me to miss the nature surrounding me. When I remember to look up, my perspective becomes more expansive and I become more aware of the natural world around me. It’s not lost on me how the constant chatter in my head begins to calm when I do this and I even seem to gain a new perspective on the struggles and challenges I’m facing in life as well.

There are a couple areas of water we pass on this loop. One is a larger pond you can get to by taking a trail off the main loop (not marked on the map) and following it across a brook. We don’t travel too far on that trail today, but there’s a perfect lunch spot up there. The other is more of a swampy area that holds it’s own magic. We’ve seen a lot of animal tracks today, but I would say our favorite was the beaver. We could see how it traveled through the swamp, slid over the hill and then down into the larger pond below.

IMG_E8789
Beaver tracks

We’ve hiked this trail many times, and in different seasons. I appreciate the intimacy of knowing a trail so well and we are never disappointed with the views we see and the fun we discover each time.

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