We are total hiking novices, but wanted to do something a bit difficult and not just go for a regular walk outside. We went to the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, which is a ski area during the winter, but has some really neat hiking trails during the summer. We hiked from the visitor's center, and took what seemed like a relatively easy trail around the side of the mountain for a bit. The map is here, and we started out at the little house icon at the right and continued down the Bicentennial Trail.
And then things took a turn for the interesting. Somehow, we decided that the Loop Trail sounded like a great idea. Here's me, looking optimistic towards the beginning of the trail:
You'll notice that even at this spot, there's not so much a trail as a bunch of rocks. That's how it was the whole time, but it got progressively more difficult. I don't have any pictures of the harder parts of the trail, but we took quite a few breaks along the way to just breathe. It did pay off with a good view somewhere along the way, though:
The trail was REALLY hard after this, and I don't have any pictures, but it looked something like this, with more green foliage - it doesn't quite do the steepest parts justice, but it's all I can find (source):
We struggled upward for a while, and had a bit of a meltdown when we started to worry that we weren't coming upon the trail we expected to - did we miss the trail sign? Nope, we were just going that slow. The whole trail was only about 1.5 to 2 miles total, but the terrain was so strenuous that it took forever to climb to the top. We eventually did make it up to the Mountain House trail, and discovered with delight that we could take an actual road down for a bit and reach Pine Hill trail, which is substantially easier. Instead of random boulders, Pine Hill has rocks stacked in a bit of a staircase formation, which is a lot easier to climb (up and down). Here's Brendan looking accomplished near the end of our journey:
As we finally reached the bottom, exhausted, we weren't sure that we'd do much more hiking - but both of us realized that we really did have a lot of fun. I have been begging Brendan to go back since we got home, and we might just go next weekend. Now that we know how long the trail is and what to expect, we'll have a lot more fun!
Anyone have any ideas for hiking trips? Next time we'll bring a water pack instead of water bottles, but if anyone has any ideas for making hiking trips more fun, or anything important to bring, I'd appreciate it!
P.S. For you crazy people out there doing ridiculously long trail races - I don't know how you do it! I can't imagine running up even the easiest part of the trail we did! Major kudos.