Great Local Summer Hikes near Bellingham and Franklin
Shown at Delcarte Conservation area in Franklin is, L-R Anna, Nicole and David Rogers of Bellingham.
By Marjorie Turner Hollman
For readers looking for the most challenging hikes, the state forests nearby in Franklin (off Grove Street), Foxborough, (F. Gilbert. Hills off Thurston Street), Upton (off Westboro Road), and Wrentham (off Taunton Street) all offer challenging hiking on multiple, often unmarked trails. Expect to find rugged trail surfaces, lots of rocks and roots, but very few if any real views.
If you are looking for Easy Walks, you can head over to Panther Way, next to the Franklin Police Station, (and behind Franklin High School). There you’ll find a handicapped accessible sculpture park that takes visitors around a small dammed pond, the former site of Franklin’s town pool. This area was closed for swimming in the 1970s, and restored around 2014 to its present outdoor use, featuring multiple sculptures. Another great Franklin outdoor option is Delcarte Conservation Area off Pleasant Street. Enjoy a loop trail around the large pond. The trail has some roots and is narrow. Beware of poison ivy! If you visit in the early morning you may be lucky enough to see a variety of wildlife.
Charles River, Bellingham
The Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) presently has three local entrances with parking. Parking in available in Franklin on Grove Street. Bellingham offering parking on Lake Street and is relatively handicapped accessible (the slope from the street may be challenging for some). The SNETT headed back toward Franklin from Lake Street is packed stone dust up to the Pleasant Street tunnel (and tunnels are always fun!). The SNETT entrance at Center Street in Bellingham is handicapped accessible. Take care when crossing Center Street, which has a 45 MPH speed limit. No motorized vehicles permitted.
Another enjoyable half-mile walk in Bellingham will get you to the banks of the Charles River. Parking is at the High Street fields. The trail head is at the back of the field. The path has become rockier lately because of dirt bikes on the trails, but the sight of the Charles River, still a small stream at this spot, is worth the relatively small effort to avoid the rocks. Pay attention to the red arrows that lead to the water. Multiple additional trails will lead you into swampy areas. Bring (and use!) bug spray.
My favorite local spot to get a view is at the Knuckup Hill property (also known as Sweatt Hill) in Wrentham. Parking is at the Wrentham Senior Center on Taunton Street, or next to the trail head near the Building Services Department offices. From there a fire road curves around the hill to the high point, next to the abandoned ski tow equipment. It is a bit of a climb! Look northeast to take in an impressive view of the area. You can see the buildings of downtown Boston, but you may need binoculars. An additional walk right next to Knuckup Hill is Trout pond, a pretty walk, especially in the fall.
Our family enjoys getting over to Medway, where Choate Park offers plentiful parking, an accessible playground for children and a handicapped friendly path around the pond. When facing the pond from the street, look to the left, where a wide, clear, mostly level trail offers sound footing. The path meanders through woodland, goes past the back of Medway High School and continues beyond Adams Street. The trail club in Medway is working to expand this path all the way to Holliston.
Besides the SNETT, area residents have access to two other great local rail trails. The Upper Charles Trail reaches from Milford, at the Hopkinton Town Line off Rt. 85, south to downtown Milford, then back north to Holliston. All trail surfaces are paved or packed stone dust and are great for walking, bicycling, and other non-motorized uses. The Blackstone Bikeway starts in Woonsocket and heads south alongside the Blackstone River from Woonsocket, RI to Central Falls. Another portion of the bikeway, not yet linked to Woonsocket, is in Blackstone off Canal Street. This trail also follows the river and reaches from Blackstone to Uxbridge. It is paved and completely handicapped accessible.
This is just a short list of possible outdoor trails you can enjoy locally. We live in a beautiful part of the country. Travel is a great way to open our minds, but don’t overlook outdoor spaces right in your own back yard. Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman, a Bellingham resident, has been freelance-writing for Local Town Pages and The Bellingham Bulletin for many years. Nearly 30 years ago, Marjorie found herself in a hospital bed after brain surgery to save her life, paralyzed on her right side. The years since then have been a healing journey as she has regained her ability to walk, with support. Little did she know those years ago that one day she would be the author of five Easy Walks walking books focused on helping others, including those with mobility issues, to get out and enjoy the outdoors.