AMC's Best Backpacking in New England
by Matt Heid (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
© 2014 Matt Heid/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.
NOTICE. Do not hike this trail without an official trail map from the Ranger's office at the campground. I got lost with it, but I'd still be wandering around rural MASS without it. The trail just goes dead in many places and you need the map to see where it picks up again.
I hiked this trail in late June over 2 days, but the northern half of the loop seems to get so few hikers that in many sections it is very difficult to stay on the trail. The yellow blazes are faded in so many areas—or are gone entirely—that I added at least 2 miles to the hike doubling back. This usually happend when hiking on the 3+ miles shared with roadways.
Inexperienced hikers must keep the trail in mind at all times because it is very easy to get lost on these more remote sections until you join the New England Trail for one solid, marked mile, which leads to the shelter. The shelter is fairly well maintained and it is perfectly located at the top of Roylston Falls with excellent water at the base of the shelter. It seems that a lot of townies use the shelter from the amount of trash in the fire pit. I do wish there was a broom and a place to prepare food at the shelter.
WARNING. On Day 2, following the falls, heading South to the campground, you will hike maybe 100-200 yards uphill under power lines. This trail is very poorly marked here and over-grown. Do not even attempt to look for the trail. Just hike up under the power lines until you summit the hill. At the top of the hill, you will find the trail to your right (again, this is if you are moving counter-clockwise on the map). I hiked up this section of the trail in chest-high brush in the rain. I was covered in ticks and soaking wet.
I would like to add that the Ranger who worked at the campground, including his dog Tully, was really helpful. Also, if I were to do this hike again, I may stay at the campground following DAY 2 for some canoeing/swimming in Tully Lake.
We hiked this 12 mile loop around Long Pond beginning at 12:30 pm after a long night of thunder storms and heavy rain. Though this made the trail magical and sparkly, lined with new mushrooms and orange salamanders, it also made for a lot of bugs. I simply carried a fern and fanned the gnats away as we walked. In spite of the bugs, this was truly one of the most beautiful trails I have ever hiked. It winds its way through watershed land along the tully river, rising and falling in a mogul like fashion, never being difficult. Much of the time we were under white pine and spruce with the water to our right. This would break out into meadows and mossy copses. There were frequent planks to take us over swamps. So many flowers! The hike took us 4 hours. We want to go back and do it again this autumn.
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