Saturday, November 9, 2013

Trying out the Two Bridges Trail

Earlier this week, in an effort to get to know my new neighborhood a bit better, I took a 10-minute drive up the road and parked at the Chapel Brook Reservation trailhead in Ashfield. The property is owned by the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) and is a really amazing place. It's got a spectacular waterfall right near the road, miles of very nice hiking/running trails, glacial erratics, and scenic views from open ledges. For the full scoop, see TTOR's web page about it here.

The Two Bridges Trail instantly became a favorite new local trail run. It's a lollipop loop, approximately 4-5 miles total, with most of it consisting of out-and-back on the "stick" part. There are ups and downs for sure, but it's very runnable and it only has one short section steep enough that you probably need to hike (and even that section is nicely constructed with a series of zig-zag switchbacks up the slope).  

My route began and ended at Chapel Brook Falls. After a short descent on Chapel Falls Rd (an eroded dirt road, closed to traffic), the trail veers left and drops down through the woods to Chapel Brook, which it crosses via the eponymous two bridges. The bridges are new, and they are hearty. Clearly built to last. 

From the bridges, the trail climbs gradually along a feeder brook for a while. Then you reach the steep part, and climb the slope via a series of nice switchbacks. At the top, there's about a mile of easy running until you get to the start of the loop at the northern end. Well, "easy" in the sense that it's not very steep or anything, but all the recently fallen leaves and small cut stumps did make footing a little tricky in places. In general, though, this is a really pleasant trail to run on. It's also very well marked and easy to follow. 

The loop part passes by a big boulder (called the "pebble") wedged in between some trees, and then drops to a scenic view at the top edge of a mown field. The trail descends one side of the field, then veers hard right and traverses right through the middle of it, reminding me of a similar section of trail at Tyringham Cobble. Soon you come to a short spur path down the northern trailhead at TTOR's Bullitt Reservation. Continuing around the loop, the trail climbs back to the junction at the top of the lollipop stick (there were some brambles growing out into the trail here, and I imagine they might have made walking that short section a bit unpleasant in the middle of the summer, but it's nothing a little pruning wouldn't clear right up). 

It took me the better part of an hour to do this run, but I was going very slow on purpose, as I wanted to enjoy the brand-new-to-me scenery, take a few photos with my phone, and not break an ankle on anything hidden beneath all the leaves. During a less leafy season, though, I imagine it could be done a fair bit faster. 

what most of the trail looked like on an early November day 

bridge along the Two Bridges Trail
bridge #1

bridge along the Two Bridges Trail
bridge #2

coming out to the field at the Bullitt Reservation

Two Bridges Trail at the Bullitt Reservation
the view north towards Conway

Two Bridges Trail
at the northern end, near the Bullitt Reservation parking

Chapel Brook
beneath the bridge

Chapel Brook Falls
the lower cascades at Chapel Brook Falls (long exposure w/SLR)

Chapel Brook Falls
the lower cascades at Chapel Brook Falls (smartphone exposure)

video of Chapel Brook Falls

No comments:

Post a Comment