With its flat terrain and well-groomed trail, it wasn’t a surprise to see so many mountain bikers riding the path.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Since there’s no heavy snow on the ground, the weather is unseasonably warm, and the possibility of having to live in the woods for one reason or another seems increasingly likely by the day, I figured I would once again return to the woods of Walpole to try and find a trail I’d never hiked before. This led me to the High Street Trail.
The High Street Trail is a path almost directly under a long line of power lines along the Medfield-Walpole border. You can either access it from Adams Farm by taking the blue dot path, then the orange dot path, or by driving and parking on High Street to the left or right of the gate. Whichever way you choose, outside of distance traversed, your experience on the trail is going to be largely the same once you hit the yellow dots that indicate you’ve made it to the High Street Trail. Overall, the trail feels like a great way to connect two places. The problem is, one of those places just isn’t all that interesting.
I opted to walk from Adams Farm, figuring that the parking would be easier. I’d been there before, and walked a couple of the trails already, so I was far more excited about seeing what this new, strange trail underneath a bunch of powerlines was all about than hiking around Adams Farm again.
But while you’ve got a nice, forested hike in front of you from Adam’s Farm, when you finally hit the power lines, it’s a bit of an odd experience. When you’re hiking through the tree cover, even if you know there are people around, you don’t feel exposed or like you’re being watched. When you hit the trail underneath the power lines, you feel like everyone is looking at you while you can’t see them, because, well, if they wanted to, they could be.
See, there are trees on both sides of you while you walk, and people are constantly popping out of them. It’s mainly cyclists that are using the various small trails that link up to the power line trail, who probably live in the houses on the streets nearby. But once you’re under the power lines, you will be walking along the gravel in the middle of the tall grass, and all of a sudden, you’ll hear two people chatting in the woods next to you, or a bicyclist will fly out of the tree line and startle you. It’s a weird experience, because the power lines are almost like the flat, rolling hills of the Midwest, except they’re surrounded by tree cover where people or animals could be hiding. It made me wonder how the animals traversed the area, balancing the speed of moving on flat ground with the openness of having no cover.
There are also a lot of ice puddles. I couldn’t figure out where all the water was coming from, although it looked like there was a small marsh, but these puddles are big enough that you’re going to have to go around them unless you’re an ice hockey coach or a curler, which can be frustrating. Since I didn’t hear or see any, I assume you can’t ride a dirt bike on the trail. That’s a shame, because while I understand how the revving of an engine could annoy local homeowners and ruin the serenity of the woods, it would take three dirt bikes a few seconds to carve a path around the giant ice puddles that hikers could use as well.
The main problem with the trail is that once you get to High Street, that’s all there is: you’re on High Street. While it’s great to have a connection between High Street and Adams Farm if you live in the area around High Street, if you’re a kid or a mountain biker, or if your car breaks down and you don’t want to walk along the streets where sidewalks aren’t readily available, High Street just isn’t a destination that’s especially exciting to hike to. Granted I stopped on High Street and didn’t continue across the street, but it’s hard to imagine anything wildly exciting lie ahead of me.
Well, maybe it is if you’re a power line enthusiast. I know nothing about power lines, but did get a kick out of seeing a "Boston Edison" sign, since I was pretty sure they were bought out at some point when I was a kid. There were also some buried and discarded parts, which I didn’t touch out of fear of being shocked. But had I been braver, I’d love to have dug them up a little and at least seen what they were.
Because it’s not a loop, when the trail ended, I had to turn around and walk back the same way I came. I wished somebody was there to pick me up and drive me back, which I suppose would have eliminated the purpose of the trail in the first place.
Still, the High Street Trail is rather flat, and reasonably easy to walk. It’s good for dog-walkers and mountain bikers, and if you live in the area, it’s very neat that you have a path that eventually will lead you to Adams Farm.
But if you’re looking to experience the trail and don’t have a great need to get from Adams Farm to High Street, just park at the gate and walk for a while under the power lines. You’ll pretty much get the point.