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Discover Hamilton Trail Hike Report

Posted Jun 19 2013 3:00am
The Discover Hamilton Trail (DHT) is a 10 mile loop beginning on Route 1A in Hamilton, MA and passing through Harvard Forest , Pingree Reservation , Bradley Palmer State Park (BPSP), Appleton Farm Grass Rides and Harvard Forest once again.  I first learned of the DHT's existence back in 2008 or 2009 while running the GAC Fat Ass 50K in Bradley Palmer.  Over the next few years I ran on portions of the DHT during training runs in BPSP and during my Bay Circuit Trail adventures . I've always wanted to do the full loop but never got around to it until this past weekend.

I started my hike at the Hamilton Town Hall and walked north on Route 1A looking for the trail marker that would indicate a turn off the road and into the Harvard Forest.  I searched several minutes for the blaze but could not find it so I decided to do a road walk that paralleled the trail and pick up the actual trail about a mile down the road.  I got a late start and it was beginning to get warm so I was looking forward to getting under some tree cover and into the cooler temperature the woodlands would provide.

This was a hastily planned hike and all I had for a trail map was the one I found on the internet. It was lacking detail and I should have taken supplemental maps with me, at least one for Bradley Palmer, but I did not.  This proved to be a mistake as I went off the DHT somewhere in BPSP.  By the time I realized my error, I was too far from the missed turn to backtrack and continue on the missed section.  It wasn't a big deal but I did miss the only climb of the hike which would have taken me over Blueberry Hill and Moon Hill.

I was happy to leave the hot pavement behind and escape to the green solitude of the Appleton Farm Grass Rides.   The wealthy once rode in their carriages along these rolling paths.  Now, I was enjoy the soft dirt under my feet after the long road walk.  Once I left Appleton, I was less than two miles from the finish.   I entered Harvard Forest to return on the trail that I had missed when I left the Town Hall at the start of my hike.

Pinnacle at the intersection of five trails in Appleton. 
It was obvious this section of the DHT has seen little use as the trail was rather overgrown and a clear path was not visible.  As the trail descended, it became wet in many spots.  When I crossed a newly constructed footbridge the trail became even wetter and soon it disappeared completely under deep water.  There was a great deal of rain in the area during the week which turned this section of trail into a swampy mess.  There was no way through or around the flooded area so I backtracked and finished up the hike on the same road I had started it.

The not so traveled path.  The (sort of) Discover Hamilton Trail Loop
More DHT hike photos here .

This video comes to an unplanned end when my camera battery died a few minutes before I ran into the impassable section of trail.

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