During the winter months it can be difficult to get outside. It is cold and dreary and I have heard many people that live in the region say that hate the winter months. For me this is hard to believe because this is one of my favorite times of year. Many people do not think that hiking is a winter activity. For me hiking in the winter is one of my favorite times to be out exploring the woods, especially after a fresh fallen snow. If you are thinking, sure that’s nice if you are able to spend a lot of money in winter gear. It does not have to be that complicated. As long as you have warm boots, snow pants, winter jacket, hat and gloves you can hit some of my favorite local trails in the area.
For week one of my top five hikes, these are not in any particular order, I will introduce you to Wales Preserve in Sharon. Last summer when I was looking for a new trail to explore I came cross Wales Preserve during a google search. Since I have lived in the area for 12 years, I was taken back when I had never heard of it before. Fast forward a few months later this has become one of my favorites, especially in the winter.
Located on Spring Hill Road in Sharon is the trailhead to Wales Preserve. Parking is along the roadside and there is a sign for the trailhead. Once you start down the trail there is a small kiosk. After a few hundred feet you reach the main attraction to this trail, the Gridley River. The trail is well maintained and marked by The Nature Conservancy. You walk along the Gridley River listening to the flowing water and enjoying series of cascades. Allowing your mind to wander and enjoy the peacefulness of the woods and flowing water. Anyone who follows me knows my love of waterfalls and cascades, therefore I was very excited to have this option in the Monadnock area as there are not many waterfalls or cascades near by. As you can see by the pictures they are not the type of waterfalls that you would find in the White Mountains, but they are still very beautiful and peaceful.
You follow The Brookside Trail to the end and then it turns right onto the Woodland Trail. There are two access points to the Woodland Trail either halfway down the Brookside Trail or at the end. I chose to take the first Woodland trail and loop back around to the Brookside trail because when we are walking back up the trail you get to enjoy that cascades in front of you, instead of having them at your back. The Woodland Trail loops through the woods up and down hill sides, providing a peaceful walk through the forrest. Where the Woodland Trail and Brookside Trail meet up again there is a small bridge to your left it looks like it goes further, but it is not part of the Nature Conservancy. I have not explored past the bridge.
After a fresh fallen snow, it blankets the cascades creating a winter wonderland or as one of my hiking group members, stated, “it looks like Narnia.” Be careful with your footing depending on the amount of snow we have, as there are some hidden rocks long the trail. With the snow we got yesterday this is a perfect time to get out and check out the trail.