Monday, February 29, 2016

Bay Circuit Trail Hike Report - Borderland State Park, Easton To Reynolds Landing, West Bridgewater

After months of thinking and talking about doing a hike on the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) I finally found the motivation I was lacking all winter to actually do it. A sunny 30 degree day and a touch of cabin fever was all that was needed to get me moving again. I hiked 17 miles from Borderland State Park (BSP), on the border of Sharon and Easton, to Reynolds Landing, a canoe launch in West Bridgewater. This puts me within 35 miles of the BCT southern terminus at Bay Farm on the Duxbury/Kingston line. I hope to reach my final destination in the next two weeks.

Inching my way closer to the southern terminus of the BCT.

I was a little concerned that all the rain earlier in the week in addition to the heavy overnight rainfall would impact some of the trails along this low lying section of the BCT, I checked in with the ranger at BSP to get an update on trial conditions. He told me if I encountered any water within the first eight of a mile on the Rockland Trail I should consider turning back because trail condition would worsen the deeper I went. I should have listened.

I was feeling chilled as I started out from the BSP Visitors Center walking towards the Ames mansion and its expansive lawn. After a brief stop I continued down the long dirt road to the Rockland Trail. This is where trail conditions deteriorated considerably and my progress was slowed due to several areas of submerged trail. I was able to negotiate many of them without much effort but was forced to use a rock wall and downed trees to cross the worse flooded section. I thought this may not be the last underwater trail I would see and I was proved correct a short time later.

Ames mansion in Borderland State Park.

Easy walking on a dirt road in BSP.

One of the few dry sections on the Rockland Trail.

This is what most of the trail was like.

Leaving the Rockland Trail I crossed the street into wooded area that would bring me to a trail under high-voltage power lines. I had only walked in a short distance before I was stopped in my tracks by a brook with fast running water. It was too wide to leap across and too deep to wade through. If it was warmer, wading the brook would have been fine but with a wind-chill in the low 20s that wasn’t an option. After much wasted time searching for a way across I decided to return to Rockland Ave for a one mile road walk. From this point I was able to access the power line trail.

There was no way to cross here and still stay dry.

From here the BCT followed Beaver Brook for 2.5 miles through the Fox Mountain Lot and some paved roads to Old Pond in Easton. The wooded section was wet but not as bad as the trail through BSP. The footbridge over Beaver Brook was a bonus since it was far too deep and wide to ford. After a one mile road walk on busy streets I got off road again at Wheaton Farm.

A welcomed sight in Beaver Brook.

Old Pond in Easton.

Old Pond Dam

Loud waterfall and a busy street.

The open meadows in Wheaton Farm offered sweeping views of the property below but the cold, strong wind soon reminded me to keep moving. The meadows lead to a narrow 100 year old cart path. This was the first dry trail I had walked on all day. Although the trail was dry, my progress was slowed by numerous blowdowns of varying sizes. None were very difficult to get around and it was better than trying to keep my feet dry on waterlogged trails. Leaving the Wheaton Farm area I was treated to a beautiful view of Fuller Hammond Pond. Arguably, it was the best view of the day.

Road in Wheaton Farm covered with sea shells.

A view back to the farmhouse.

Too many blowdowns to count but I did anyway. Total count = 12! 

Beautiful Fuller Hammond Pond.

On the 1.5 mile road walk that ensued, I sat down on the steps of an abandoned building to tie my trail runners. When I later reached in my pocket for the trail guide it was missing. I assumed it fell out when I sat down to tie my shoe. Sure enough it was there when I returned but backtracking to retrieve it put me further behind schedule. At least I found it!

The next section through the Hockomock Swamp was mind numbing. The eight – ten foot wide path under power lines went on for miles cutting a straight line through the largest fresh water swamp in Massachusetts. In summer, it may be a more interesting place with birds and other wildlife in abundance. But in late February it is just a boring, brown tunnel.

My view for the next three miles.

I was hoping to see an alien or bigfoot but neither came out to play.

By the time I exited the swamp I had hiked about 13 miles and was getting fatigued. I still had another 4 miles to go, all on roads. Ugh! The fast moving traffic, and little or no shoulder, made some of the walk pretty sketchy but the upside to road walking is the miles are covered at a much faster pace. In a little over an hour I was back to my car which was parked at Reynolds Landing in West Bridgewater.

It felt great to be back on the BCT. I hope to finish the trail by hiking over the next two weekends. Once the BCT is complete I can focus on completing the North-South Trail in Rhode Island. It’s time to get busy.

More photos of my hike are HERE.

Stats: BCT Maps 11 & 12: 17.1 miles  
Surface split: 9.2m trails and dirt roads, 7.9m paved roads  
Elevation gain: 179 feet  
Highest point: Borderland State Park 249 ft.  
Start point: Borderland State Park, Easton  
End point: Reynolds Landing, West Bridgewater  
Other towns:None  
Green Spaces: Borderland State Park, Fox Hill Lot, Beaver Brook, Hockomock Swamp 
Hydration: 40 oz water  
Fuel: Two Cilff Bars  
Footwear: Scarpa Spark trail runners, Smartwool socks  
Total BCT covered to date: 193 miles  
Surface split: 114 trail and dirt roads, 72 paved roads, 7 paved rail trail  
Total elevation gain: 7872+ feet
Highest point: Nobscot Hill 602 ft  
BCT remaining: 35m estimated

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