There are many ways to discover Bolton, Massachusetts. There is the apple and peach picking at local orchards, the wine tasting at Nashoba Valley Winery, the farms with produce, flowers, and cider donuts, the unique shops on Main Street, the great coffee and food at the Bolton Bean, or the fun, food, and music of Slater’s.
However, we’ll start this ‘Discover Bolton’ series with a great way to explore the natural beauty of Bolton, and potentially ‘win’ a hat featuring seven summits and an apple tree.
While the hat may be a draw, the goal of the 2023 Summit Series Challenge, sponsored by the Bolton Conservation Trust and organized by the Bolton Trails Committee, is to compel people to get out and enjoy the area. The summit challenge involves self-guided maps that will have you traversing the back trails of the town.
The Bolton Trails Committee has created an Official Guide that lists the summits and starting locations. Here’s how it works: “This challenge requires the participants to reach the summit of seven of our hills, starting at designated trailheads,” notes the website. “Those who participate in this challenge, and fill out the Official Form, can earn a limited-edition hat as a token of appreciation.” To ensure the appreciation goes to all ages, the hats come in adult and youth sizes.
To explain this challenge: Director of the Bolton Conservation Trust and Bolton Trails Committee volunteer Drew Schaubhut, who is also a Bolton resident. In this ‘Discover Bolton’ Q&A, Schaubhut has details about the summits and ‘pro tips’ to make the most of your experience:
Describe your position with the Bolton Trails Committee and the Bolton Conservation Trust and what got you involved?
A: I’m a volunteer and part of the Steering Committee for the Bolton Trails Committee, and recently as of 2023 have joined the Bolton Conservation Trust as a Director. I started helping out with the Bolton Trails Committee shortly after I moved to Bolton in 2015. I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and generally exploring new areas. Since I was using the trails in the town, I felt obligated to help by making them better. This includes planning and creating new trails in addition to maintaining (clearing and marking) the 45+ miles of trails in Bolton so others can enjoy them.
What motivated the Bolton Trails Committee to create this challenge?
A: We really just want more folks out enjoying their local trails. We wanted an achievable challenge that individuals or families could enjoy together.
Can you describe the highlights or interesting facts about each of the seven summits listed?
A: Wattaquadock Hill is the highest point in Bolton. The true summit is on private land, but there is an old observation tower foundation with a USGS summit marker ON conservation land. See if you can find it.
Wattaquadock Hill is in the Welch Pond Conservation Area. Pictured: a beaver lodge. Photos courtesy: Bolton Trails Committee
A: North Peak is one of the highest points between Boston and Mt. Wachusett (in addition to Wattaquadock). This hike has the most elevation gain of any of the seven summits in the Summit Series Challenge. I’d recommended exploring the Vaughn Hills area, especially the trail directly to the east of the North Peak parallel to Bare Hill Road, and of course the beaver pond located just south of North Peak. You can probably see some herons and ospreys nesting in the dead trees within the pond depending on the time of year. The best chance is spring/summer.
North Peak is in the Vaughn Hills Conservation area.
A: The true summit of Peach Hill is actually on private land in Berlin, but the highest point on conservation land is very close. The Fyfeshire Pond and Dam are always pleasant to walk by and enjoy the scenery.
Pro Tip: Stop by afterward at Baba Sushi and The Legacy Kitchen for dine-in or take-out.
Peach Hill is in the Fyfeshire Conservation Area.
Powder House Hill
A: Probably my favorite area, being such a large undisturbed area right in the middle of town. The summit is NOT at the Powder House historical building – where the town’s gunpowder supply was required to be stored when it was built in 1812. The summit is actually on the other side of the gas line toward the Quail Run Road trailhead.
Powder House Hill is in the Powder House Conservation Area.
A: There are no Rattlesnakes on Rattlesnake Hill. I repeat…There are no Rattlesnakes on Rattlesnake Hill. There may be a few mountain bikers and hikers, but definitely no rattlesnakes. There is a Wildflower Walk and an Ecology Walk (Bob Horton Trail) right out of the Lime Kiln entrance
Rattlesnake Hill is in the Rattlesnake Conservation Area.
A: We don’t keep track of usage, but this is probably the least visited conservation in town. At the summit, if you follow the stone wall to the northwest, you will be rewarded with viewing arguably the largest maple tree in town.
Pro Tip: Take the more gradual route to the summit as indicated on the conservation area map. The alternative is a little shorter in length but very steep.
Barrett’s Hill is in the Danforth Conservation Area.
A: The Annie Moore property is probably one of the most quintessential New England conservation areas, which includes long straight stone walls through areas including oak forests, wetlands, orchards, and farms. It’s the longest hike to reach a summit on the list, but also a fairly gradual walk to reach Annie Moore Road from Bolton Woods Way. The actual summit of Long Hill is on private land, but the trailhead at Annie Moore Road is pretty close.
Long Hill is in the Annie Moore Conservation Area.
What are the broad goals of this challenge?
A: We are hoping to inspire more people to explore their community and get to know the vast network of conservation areas we have in this town. There are so many studies indicating the physical and mental health benefits of being outside and being active, that any way we could encourage our neighbors to get outside more will really benefit everyone.
Hikers take on North Peak in the Vaughn Hills Conservation Area.
How hard is it to complete this challenge and is there a deadline?
A: These are not overly challenging hikes, and can be done at any pace. The trail surface can be rocky or have roots, which is very typical in New England. Some sections can be a little steep, as these are hikes up to the top of a hill, but the trails are designed for a majority of users to be able to walk on them, including kids. As long as you have some sturdy shoes (a.k.a. no flip-flops) you should be fine. My plan is to have my 6-year-old to complete this challenge if that helps others gauge the challenge level of these hikes.
What should people know if they are not regular hikers?
A: It’s just a walk in the woods, but the best advice is to try to find someone who has done it before, including joining a guided walk that we try to do monthly, which can be found at: https://www.townofbolton.com/conservation-commission/news/guided-trail-walk-schedule-2023
REI has a good resource available at: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-for-beginners.html
How can people get involved or help the Bolton Trails Committee and the Bolton Conservation Trust?
A: The Bolton Trails Committee is always looking for more help. We could use some more “trail adopters”, which are simply just people that walk certain trails regularly and report any issues they come across. We have a mailing list that we use to recruit help for work parties and special projects. The biggest need is getting more people to be project leaders on these conservation area improvement projects throughout town. The Bolton Conservation Trust is always looking for more people to help as well.
For more information, reach out to:
- The Bolton Trails Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Bolton Conservation Trust: email@example.com
Anything else you’d like to add?
A: These public conservation lands are meant for the public to use and enjoy. I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of the great resources our town has to offer. Although our town does not have a lot of typical “services”, we are rich in publicly accessible land.
Limited edition adult and youth-sized hats go to those who complete the 2023 Summit Series Challenge. If you look closely at the logo there are seven hills to indicate each of the peaks of the Summit Series Challenge.