I went on a 5 mile hike today in the Middlesex Fells, a natural area close to my house that has some of the best hiking near Boston. It was a sunny day and a pleasant 64 degrees. I chose to hike the Rock Circuit Trail because I wanted a good workout and because it is fairly remote, winding through the corner of the park east of the Fellsway (Rt 28), away from the more popular trails favored by other hikers and dog walkers. As usual, I was testing some new gear and hiking with a full pack weighing close to 20 lbs.
The Rock Circuit Trail starts across the street from the Flynn Skating Rink east of Interstate 93. It has a white blaze and is rated difficult because it has many rocky ascents and descents, most under 250 feet of elevation. These can be quite steep and tricky under the best of circumstances, but with a 20 lb. pack they become extra treacherous. On my hike, I passed many excellent rock faces for bouldering, crack climbing, and top roping but saw little evidence of permanent protection even though I know many climbers climb near here.
In the past, I usually lose the blazes on this trail and have to resort to bushwacking to find my way out. But it was obvious that the trail had recently been re-blazed and I made it most of the way on the trail. Still, if you are not familiar with the terrain up here, I recommend that you bring a friend who is. It is really easy to lose the trail unless you are very attentive.
About two thirds of the way through my hike, I came across several acres of forest that had obviously been in a fire recently. The ground and many of the trees had been blackened and there was the lingering smell of burnt wood. It has been dry in recent weeks, but I hadn’t heard about a fire in the area. I wonder how it started.
After 2 hours of strenuous hiking, I took a break to have a snack and test some new hammock accessories. I bushwhacked to a rocky area about 100 yards east of the trail and hung up my hammock. I glanced up at a rocky formation about 50 yards south and saw these two breakfast chairs on top of a rocky outcrop, literally in the middle of the forest. I had apparently stumbled upon some other sun worshipper’s private retreat. Urban hiking at it’s best!
The rest of my hike continued to be quite rugged and I got lost as usual towards the end and had to bushwhack to the road to get back to my car. Be forewarned, this is a great hike, but expect to get lost in this section of the Fells.
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