The Trail to Spirit Falls

Today I decided to head out to a place I haven’t been to in quite a while, the area north of Quabbin Reservoir. Between the reservoir and the New Hampshire state line lie a cluster of small, nearly forgotten towns. Places like Wendell, Royalston, and Baldwinville, don’t have a lot of people, they’re not on any major highway, but tucked in there are miles of trails and beautiful scenery.

Jacobs Hill is about a mile west of Royalston Common. The trailhead is at a small parking lot off Route 68. The area is managed by the Trustees of Reservations, and the short leisurely climb to an overlook is worth it, especially on a day like today.

My real goal was Spirit Falls, a bit south of the Jacobs Hill Overlook. In the spring, when the brook is full, the falls are a dramatic cascade down a nearly 1,000-foot drop. This time, the falls were more audible than visible. I could hear the water rushing underneath, but all that I could see were outcroppings of ice poking through the snow. Still, there was a quiet beauty all its own.

I wasn’t the only one who had taken advantage of the spot. Most of the other human tracks I saw just went to the overlook and back to the parking lot. I was the first one to plunge on ahead to the falls. The only other visitor ahead of me was a single otter who had take the long slide down. The telltale marks looked reasonably fresh, so I’m thinking maybe it was last night sometime.

I made a loop back to the parking lot, just enjoying the day and the woods. The trees were mostly eastern hemlock, with a scattering of ash, oak, maple, and beech thrown in for good measure. There were plenty of deer tracks, and coyote, too.

All in all, a perfect day that helped remind me how much I enjoy this part of Massachusetts.

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