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Walpole’s New Year hike for all

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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

A young hiker hitches a ride midway down the trail during Walpole’s annual New Year’s Day Hike.

A young hiker hitches a ride midway down the trail during Walpole’s annual New Year’s Day Hike.

While many Massachusetts residents were nursing hangovers, watching college football, or dealing with the fallout of their final questionable decisions of 2018, swaths of families descended upon Walpole’s Jarvis Farm to participate in their annual New Year’s Day Hike.

In part due to warmer winters, New Year’s Day Hikes have taken over the holiday across the US. But while hikes at places like Blue Hills in Canton can be steep and difficult, Walpole’s version of the event is unique, as it is not only closer to home, but designed to be more accessible to people of all ages and physical abilities.

“They do a first day hike at Blue Hills every year and this is really just a continuation of what’s already been established there,” explained Trails Committee Vice Chairman Glenn Maffei. “It’s nice to have it closer to home, though, so you don’t have to drive to Canton to go on a hike. It’s about two and a half miles. You can come out with your family, get some exercise, get some fresh air - it’s a nice way to start the new year. It’s family oriented for sure; very flat the whole way. I actually did it last month with my ten-month-old son in a stroller, so anybody with little kids to somebody 80 years old or beyond can do it. It doesn’t take much except for a willingness to get outside.”

Led by guide and Trails Committee Chairman Gary Riggott, and with dogs and kids in tow, the hike began at the farm, past the cabins, and through the winding, slightly muddy woods. At various points, Riggott stopped to point out and explain points of interest, such as a tree that had been split by a lighting strike, a trail system marked by white cards on trees, and a large pile of old fire hydrants that had been dug up from the town. At one point, hikers crossed a makeshift bridge made of wooden planks. Riggott explained that a larger, dug-in bridge was impossible in this area, as it would ruin the underground pipes that give Walpole its water supply. Steps later, the group would come across the newly-finished, beautiful wood walking bridge that was built by volunteers; the bridge had its official ribbon cutting in November.

Gary Riggott takes a second to address the crowd.

Gary Riggott takes a second to address the crowd.

After a brief bathroom break, Riggott led the group to its final destination: the Walpole High School track, where the hikers briefly crossed paths with a few motivated Walpole athletes and a gaggle of #NewYearNewMe runners. While going back the way they came was an option, the hike also had a quicker shortcut trail that led those with squirming kids or tired feet back to their car far quicker.

If you missed the hike and feel like it’s something you’d like to have done, remember: there’s always next year.

As long as you’re willing to go.

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