Temple’s piece of the Wapack

I’ve dayhiked many times on bits and pieces of the 21-mile long Wapack Trail between Ashburnham MA and Greenfield NH, but for some reason I never had time until recently to check out the segment on the northern side of Temple Mountain. I always drove past the old ski area’s parking lot on 101 as I was on my way somewhere else. The ski area went out of business a few years ago, and there’s actually serious talk about making the property into a new state park, which would be great for — among other things — the Wapack. I finally made time to check the area out last weekend.

I didn’t expect that finding the proper trailhead would take awhile, but it did. This is hardly a remote area, with route 101 right there and Miller State Park/Pack Monadnock across the street. I figured I’d park in the old ski area’s lot and I’d immediately find the familiar yellow-triangle blazes for the trail. I saw a bunch of old ski trails, but no blazes. Other cars were there, so I knew someone had to be on the trail. I tried going up one of the old ski trails, but the recent rains had left them badly eroded and muddy. I don’t mind mud, but I was getting annoyed with myself for being unable to find a simple trail! I soon met up with a gentleman in the same predicament as I. He recommended walking out to 101 and picking up the trail right across the road from the Miller State Park entrance. That worked. A couple of hours later, on my way back to my car, I figured out the very simple (but unmarked) way to get from the parking lot to the trail without resorting to walking on the highway: from the parking lot for the old ski area, on the south side of 101,walk just past the gate (actually a cable strung between a post & a tree), turn right, and walk on the broad dirt road for less than five minutes. Those nice yellow blazes will soon be in sight.

The walk south to Temple Ledges was pleasant enough. There are few vistas on this stretch, so all the folks wanting to see the countryside ought to go to just about any other peak on the northern part of the Wapack except this one. Lots of birds — including what I think was a bobwhite, which I had seen before only in books! A bird’s a little thing, but I was delighted anyway. I encountered about ten other folks enjoying the day, all (even their dogs) sensibly dressed with something orange in this hunting season. Woods, stone walls, a group of cairns that could pass for a living room grouping, plenty of birdsong: not a bad way to spend two hours. This is not the place to wear sneakers, by the way. The approach to the ledges isn’t all that steep, but within a few days of any kind of rain, there is mud. You’ll get fair warning of that as you splash your way through the parking lot.