Bay Circuit Trail: Hiking The 230 Mile Emerald Necklace of Massachusetts (Section 2)
My next section hike of the 230 mile Bay Circuit Trail picked up where I had left off at the end of Old Town Hill on Newman Rd. in Newbury, MA. With the warmer than usual winter weather, I couldn't help but get out and add up some more mileage on this trail.
I picked up where I had left off on a late January morning. After leaving Old Town Hill and heading a short way down a residential road, the trail took me through a little bit of history.
The trail passed by the Lower Green Schoolhouse and then out to 1A. Walking down 1A, the BCT travels by the Dole-Little House, another piece of historic New England.
Followed by a bridge crossing with a sweeping view of the Parker River. As I continued a little more pavement pushing, I eagerly awaited entering the woods once more.
Though some of the road walking was fairly pleasant as offers beautiful views of marshland nestled between the many residential homes.
Shortly after, the pavement transitioned to dirt along with less structures and more nature. I enjoyed the walk down Old Rowley Rd and Red Gate Rd as the sun shined strong in the cloudless sky.
Before turning onto Main St, the woods on either side opened up to a beautiful farm that made me feel as if I were more in Vermont than anywhere else.
Once I stepped onto Main St (1A), so began a rather long 3 mile stretch of road walking before making my way back into the woods. It is on this stretch that I made my way into the historic town of Rowley, MA.
One highlight is the Platts Bradstreet House which was established in 1677 and is home of the Rowley Historical Society (pictured above). Road walking can seem unpleasant at times, but walking through Rowley was rather nice. The town is strewn with colonial homes and churches which make you feel like you truly are walking through the past.
As I made my way off of 133, the BCT entered the woods and I made my first moderate climb to the top of Prospect Hill, where a clearing and a water reservoir. When you approach the trailhead for Prospect Hill, you'll want to turn left rather than continue straight up a gated logging road. Look for the blazes and a light blue warehouse to your left as you walk down the path. While the climb to Prospect Hill isn't anything too rigorous, it was still great to push the legs a bit more.
The descent down Prospect Hill brought me to multiple trails and a denser section of woodlands which was still home to multiple spots of ice. I decided to keep my Microspikes in my pack and slowly shuffle over the patches as the transition from slick to mud was frequent.
The woods path continued and made its way by the outskirts of a community of some very large homes before it came out to a clearing and farmland, as well as a sign for Linebrook Conservation area in the town of Ipswich.
From there I crossed the road and entered Willowdale State Forest. This stretch, along with Prospect Hill, was beautiful! It felt great to be in the woods and on a dirt path.
Willowdale is home to multiple trails that bisect and connect throughout the forest. It is here where I saw a couple of mountain bikers (my first sight of others recreating on or near this trail). The BCT is well blazed through here and I had no trouble making my way to the end of my next section.
There are two options in Willowdale to keep hiking on the BCT. One leads to Rte 1 and the other toward Bradley Palmer State Park. I chose Rte 1 as my goal is to complete the trail heading from north to south and coming back to finish up the shorter sections that branch off of the bulk of the trail. With the direction I chose, I eventually made my way around a large pond before I started to hear vehicles in the distance.
My next section hike came to a close at Rte 1 in Topsfield, MA before I hiked back to my car. Another portion completed and another great experience.
Section Distance: 12.8 miles
Total Distance (Out-And-Back): 25.6 miles
Locations: Old Town Hill in Newbury, MA to Topsfield, MA