Friday, August 7, 2015

Bonus Site: Mormon Hollow at Wendell State Forest

My new guidebook Trail Running Western Massachusetts (click here to view the book's page on Amazon) profiles 51 of the best trail running sites in the region. It was a challenge to whittle the final list to be included in the book down to just 51 sites, and some sites that I really like or that would have been nice to include had to be cut for space. I occasionally post profiles of some of those "bonus sites" here and link to them from the book's Facebook page. (see the Chapel Brook to D.A.R. Trail post for a previous example).

In this case, the bonus site is a second sweet loop option at Wendell State Forest. The one profiled in the book, as Site #32, is a fantastic run that begins and ends in the Ruggles Pond / Park HQ area of the property. This loop is located just to the northeast, and can be accessed either from below at a small, very inconspicuous parking spot near the east end of Davis Road off of Farley Road, or from a more prominent (though not much larger) parking area by the boat launch at the north end of Wickett Pond. Beware that Wickett Pond Road can be extremely muddy in spring. 

The loop combines portions of four trails: the Mormon Hollow Trail, the Nipmuck Trail (not to be confused with the one in northeastern CT where the Nipmuck Trail Marathon takes place), the Maple Leaf Trail, and the Hannah Swarton Trail. The running is really good on all of them. There's a lot of swooping and curving and climbing/descending on switchbacks. The loop can be run just as easily in either direction and from either end, though the Nipmuck Trail portion is probably more fun to descend. There is one section of the Nipmuck Trail, just north of Baker Road, that can be a bit challenging to follow in late fall or early spring when the leaves are down, but it's much easier in summer. While there are no scenic vistas along the completely forested route, short side trips can take you to Wickett Pond and Whale's Head, a large boulder just uphill from the trail.

trail map of the Mormon Hollow region of Wendell State Forest
site map

Hannah Swarton Trail at Davis Road (photo by Ben Kimball; copyright 2015)
Hannah Swarton Trail at Davis Road
Whale's Head at Wendell State Forest (photo by Ben Kimball; copyright 2015)
Whale's Head at Wendell State Forest
Maple Leaf Trail at Wendell State Forest (photo by Ben Kimball; copyright 2015)
Maple Leaf Trail along the edge of a wetland at Wendell State Forest

If you have any comments, complaints, corrections, praise, or suggestions about this bonus site or anything related to the Trail Running Western Massachusetts guidebook, please comment below or drop me an email with your thoughts!


  1. I LOVE this book! Recently moved to the area and these maps are by far much better than any of the others out there that I have seen (both trail running and mountain biking). What is the mileage of this particular bonus run? Thank you for the great contribution.

    1. Thank you! Really glad that the maps are being appreciated.

      Good catch on the missing milage for this route; that was a big ol' oversight for this post. If you run it from the parking area at the north end (kind of a rough access road off of Farley Rd, but drivable), it ends up being about 8 miles total.