10 5 / 2012
With the orienteering season kicking off in style, including trips to the jungles of Georgia and the rocky, concertina wire strewn slopes of West Point, there’s not been much time in this house for the CT A to Z. But the foggy and damp Wednesday just passed presented the perfect opportunity to continue our mission. I screwed up my primer order and made some entirely random PCR products that weren’t the ones I was planning to spend the day cloning, and we were heading to Boston to see M83 that evening, and really, Bigelow Hollow State Park couldn’t be more perfectly placed for such a venture. We braved the spitting rain and the lingering tendrils of mist that swathed the I84 as we climbed to the north east corner of the state, and had an excellent time exploring one of the most varied and pretty State Parks we’ve seen yet.
Bigelow Hollow is a small part of the much larger Nipmuck State Forest, but don’t let the size fool you. We walked for a good 90 minutes, along the blue white trail to Mashapaug Pond, then took the vehicle road back towards the car which was parked at the North end of Bigelow Pond. There’s an option to extend the blue white for a loop of around four miles, plenty of picnic and barbecue spots, swimming locations, and also a couple of white blazed trails that can’t be found on the D.E.P official map.
The name Bigelow is apparently a bit of a mystery. No trace of a Mr or Mrs Bigelow can be found in state records, but some of the locals refer to the name as derived from “Big Low.” Certainly, as you drive down a couple of 9% hills towards the car park into what seems like a very large hole, this name makes a lot of sense! Aside from a large truck in one of the earlier parking spots, the mid-week time and the grotty weather meant we were alone in the woods as we set off on the walk. The first section of the white blue trail, north east of Bigelow Pond, was rocky and lumpy with enormous glacial erractic boulders looming out of the mist. Bigelow Hollow also seems to have a bit of a fern problem, and the combination of these three things gave the impression of a way more ancient and remote forest than we were actually in.
Things flatten out a little and become more “civilised’ as you approach Mashapaug Pond, with plenty of picnic benches and grill spots. The litter problem I’ve seen others refer too was a little evident here, but mostly confined to the grill pits.
The whole place was deserted and incredibly peaceful, and we stood for a while on a big rock and watched the rain fall onto the water, making hundreds of expanding circles on the surface.
There’s a little trail out onto Rock Island, which looks like an excellent swimming spot in hotter weather, and then you reach the vehicle track. At this point we decided to head back as we were starting to run a bit late for the concert, and took the track until it was crossed lower down by the white blue again.
After the cathedral like tall trees lining the vehicle track, it was a bit tough on the legs to get back into winding between the rocks and hills. We did disturb a few of these blurry little creatures, which I think are the land based stage of the Red Spotted Newt. Unfortunately I don’t really have the right camera for that kind of photo, but you can see one of them trying to escape from us into a hole here.
This was our only wildlife spot of the day, which makes me wonder whether the hoards that descend here in the summer put off a lot of the bigger animals. Either that or they’re just not a big fan of the rain…
About ten minutes post Newt we were back at the car, changed into our party gear, and headed off to get jammed in traffic on the Mass Pike. Bigelow Hollow, we will be back!