Parts of the trail are getting overgrown

Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts, is crisscrossed with a web of trails, but only one goes up the west side, hence the name West Side Trail. It’s neither the shortest nor the most scenic, but it’s well worth the hour-long trek to the summit.

There’s a small parking area at the trailhead on West Princeton Road, a mile north of the junction with Westminster Road. The trail is well-traveled, but not well-marked. There are some long gaps between blazes, and in some places old trails and blazes can cause some confusion. It also hasn’t been maintained recently, and parts of it, particularly the lower section, are becoming overgrown, obscuring the trail.

The west side of the mountain is the more rugged, with ledges and interesting rock falls that form sheltered overhangs and small caves. I’ve read that the first humans in the area – predating the known Native Americans – were primitive hunter-gatherers. Not much is known about them, they had few tools, built no structures, at least not permanent structures, and apparently lived in just these kinds of places.

Looking at them now, it’s not difficult to imagine.

Near the summit, the trail flattens out, and the first of the wild blueberries are ripening.

The view from the summit is spectacular, but the summit itself is one huge parking lot. There used to be a summit house there when I was younger, but it burned down. There used to be picnicking areas, too, but they seemed to be gone.

There are plans to “improve” the summit. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with it.