Location: Sharon, MA
Date: February 15, 2018
Time: 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Hike Duration: 2.5 hours; about 3 miles (?)
Weather: Completely overcast, foggy, 45 degrees F, muddy trails
This was a return to one of my old stomping grounds. Before Dennis and I met, I spent a lot of time out in these woods by myself. It was a good place to be able to stretch my comfort zone while still feeling safe. I love these woods.
Moose Hill is a MA Audubon wildlife sanctuary with 25 miles of trails and almost 2000 acres. There is an admission charge ($4.00 per adult), but it’s free if you’re a MA Audubon member or a Sharon resident. They offer many activities through the year, including educational tours, day camps for kids, art exhibits and a new nature play area for kids.
The temperature was warmer today, although the air was cool and damp. We were hiking in a light fog that eventually turned into a drizzle. But we weren’t dismayed. The dampness in the air makes all the earthly scents that much stronger. We felt ourselves become immersed in nature. The smell of leaves and dirt, the feel of the cool fog on our face, the sounds of light rain through the trees, the sinking and slurping of our boots in the mud.
We started out at the nature center, crossed the road, and picked up Summit Trail. We followed that up to the fire tower and then took Old Pasture Trail to Turkey Hill Trail to the Bluff Overlook Trail. On a clear day, you can see Gillette Stadium from the overlook.
We stopped to enjoy some of my off-the-trail sit spots along the way, including the Allens Ledge Chimney. After the overlook, we continued on Bluff Trail, past the cistern (with its own boardwalk down into the bottom), then through the swamp on the Billings Loop boardwalk, before we returned back to the center.
There are 3 somewhat steep inclines when you hike the trail this way. Sometimes we like to run them, but today the rocks and mud were too slippery. If you need to avoid inclines like that, you can still make a more gradual climb to the overlook by starting out on the Billings Loop to Bluff Trail (basically the way we returned.)
Boardwalks are a fun part of this hike! The long and winding boardwalk on the Billings Loop allows you to meander through the middle of a swamp. Today, there was an area of the boardwalk covered in an inch or two of water and another area covered in ice.
Moose Hill has my most favorite pine forest. In all of our hiking, I still have yet to find a pine tree forest that captivates me like this one. It’s located on Hobbs Hill, on the other side of the sanctuary. Today we chose to hike the overlook, but most of the time it’s these trees that call to me. They’re like family. The first time I discovered this forest, it brought me to my knees. The forest floor covered in a soft blanket of orange needles. The aromatic smell of pine filling the air. The majestic pines reaching up to the sky. The perfect kind of trees for Tree Leaning.
Dennis and I reminisced quite a bit on this hike. We acknowledged how much we’ve grown and how much our lives have changed over the past 6 years of being together. We also acknowledged how much nature has served as an instrument of healing in our lives, together and individually. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson from his essay titled Nature –
“Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us.”