The Nelson Trails Committee is a group of volunteers that was formed at the Community Forum held in the summer of 2010. Its purpose was to create trails that would give the people of Nelson and their friends access to the town’s beautiful natural and important historical places.
Building the Bailey Brook Bridge
Over the years some 40 different people have been involved in the Committee’s many projects. Some of the original members are still at it, and new people join the effort each year and are warmly welcomed.
Twelve trails have been created: over nineteen miles all together. They allow hikers to access some of Nelson’s most beautiful places featuring scenic views of lakes and mountains, babbling brooks, wetlands and beaver ponds with all manner of wildlife and wildflowers. The trails offer moderate hikes visiting old mill sites and cellar holes.
In addition to improved trails, our work is rewarded with camaraderie.
Making a new trail isn’t easy. New opportunities are discussed at the committee’s monthly meetings, landowners are contacted for permission and many reconnoitering parties set out to look for the best routes before a single tree is cut. The trail is documented in the form of a trail guide. All this takes approximately two years. Our work is informed by our members’ experiences in the outdoors and we’ve sought expert advice. We owe a lot to the guidance we received early from the Chesterfield Trails Group. The Jolly Rovers, a group of professional trail builders from New York, came and conducted a seminar in trail building.
Access to our trails is open to all. With the COVID-19 situation our trails have seen a significant increase in use as people find healthy and safe ways of enjoying each other. Some of our cooperating landowners have asked that we not publish the location of trails on their property far and wide, but a number of our trails have been discovered and documented for the world to find on internet applications like Alltrails.com. The public can find the locations of Nelson Trails at the Olivia Rodham Memorial Library. Trail guides can be found there and in mailboxes (beautifully decorated by students at the Nelson School) at the trail heads.
There are modest out of pocket costs as well and contributions are welcome. Parking lots have been built, tools acquired, trail signs made, brooks and wetlands bridged and there’s an ongoing expense in the publication of trail guides. Funding for the Trails Committee’s activities has been provided by Moving in Step (now Nelson In Common), a Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership grant, the Harris Center for Conservation Education, the Nelson Conservation Commission and donations by individuals designated for its use made to Moving in Step. All of the work of creating and maintaining trails is provided by volunteers.
If you would like to be one of those volunteers, please join us and bring a friend. The Committee meets monthly from April to December. Members lay out and cut new trails, maintain the nearly 20 miles of existing ones, create and print trail guides and organize hikes to some of Nelson’s most beautiful places. Volunteers contribute what time and expertise they can. To join, please call Rick Church at 847-3206 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggestions for new trails or improvement to the current ones are welcome, too.
The map will evolve somewhat over time as new details are added, so be sure to check back here for the most current version if you are planning a hike which will depend on this.
You can also download the Partridge Woods Hiking Guide, which provides more narrative, but doesn’t render the map as large. This brochure should usually also be available in mailboxes at the trail heads.
On a gorgeous fall day last week I decided to take a walk on the Holt Trail, which is accessed off the Kulish Ledge Trail. Both of these gorgeous trails are found off Old Stoddard Road at a parking area approximately 3½ miles from the center of town.
On May 1 a group of volunteers made their way to the top of Hurd Hill to clear brush from previously felled trees, and to take down a few more, to make a better environment for blueberries - thus restoring what was once a popular berry picking location.