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Acton Hiking Challenge


It all started with a simple walk through the woods with my mom one day back in April 2020. The pandemic was just starting and everything was closed down. I do not sit still well, so we went to hike a trail that I had driven by a bunch and wanted to check out. We met these woman on the trail and started chatting about the local hiking, what there was to do locally, and of coarse the state of the world. They told us about this hiking challenge they had found in Acton, and the trail we were on was one of the trails on the list. The challenge was the Acton Hiking Challenge. All the trails were simple hikes and they were found in different conservation lands around Acton, Massachusetts. To complete the challenge you have to print a form from the website (link at end of article), record when you hiked and some info about what you saw on the trail. Then you would mail it in to the town hall and they would send you a sticker and sew on patch.


These trails are great for families and if you just need a quick trip out of the house. Most of them are about a mile long and go through woods, fields, over rivers, and occasionally along someone`s back yard. The trails are well marked and clear of brush, over growth and fallen trees.


This has started a fire for me. I have found hiking challenges all over the country that you can receive patches for. Some of these challenges aren't as easy as this one, like the 4000 footers in New Hampshire, or a some of the peaks in Colorado. This has helped me quit smoking and push myself to be healthier and build stamina. I have created lists of local challenges for patches I am going to do. My goal this year (2021) is to complete four hiking challenges. I have joined multiple Facebook groups to connect with like mined people and have started to research other challenges around the world. I am beyond ready for these adventures!! Until then here are some pictures of the first hiking challenge I have ever completed.


P.S.- The picture quality will change post to post because I was and still am learning photography. I got my camera right before starting this challenge.


P.S.S- My mother completed this challenge with me but she did not want her picture online. Her and I will be completing two challenges together this summer!


Acton Arboretum- This trail was completed in April. Most plants are just starting to bud. The local animals and buds were my focus when taking pictures here that day. It was a challenge capturing the picture of chipmunk (picture top left corner). Not captured on camera was a mountain biker who fell into the bog off the walkway. He was speeding!



Bulette Town Forest- This trail was hiked in November. All the leaves had changed colors and it is cloudy out a majority of the time. Oh how I love fall in New England!!!




Camp Acton- This trail was hiked in September. This trail was one of my favorites due to the campsites you can hike to and use. Walking through the green and seeing these flashes of gold leaves that looked like clouds from a distance was breath taking. My mom really loved the ferns here.




Grassy Pond- This trail was also done in April. It was almost pure mud and if you look at the picture in the bottom left corner part of the bridge there was covered. We still managed to get out there to see the pond. Even caught a picture of a mother goose laying on a nest poking her head out (bottom right).



Great Hill Trail- This trail was the second trail we had hiked. The skunk cabbage was really awesome to see. I learnt about it later on and found out that the center ball acts as a heat source for the plant and is the first to bloom in spring because it melts the snow around it to grow above ground. The center ball is known as it's sun.




Guggins Brook- This trail had lots of wild flowers on it. It was also another place that had lots of vegetation so it was great for taking pictures at dusk through the leaves.





Heath Hen Meadow- This trail was at the end of a dead end road. A short section of the trail goes along the property line of someones yard. Just wave and say hi they seemed really nice! All the water on this trail made for some beautiful reflections of the surrounding landscape. There are lots of ducks, geese, and water bugs (my favorite because they look like little water aliens!)



Jenks Land- This was more of a walk through a field but it was still really nice. The tall plants were flowering and seeding and it smelt divine. The wild grapes caught us by surprise and we had smelt them before we had seen them. It was fall during this walk and we are planning to go back and see if we can snag some grapes to try before they are overly ripe this year.



Naggog Hill- This was the second to shortest trail on the list. I didn't get many pictures because my camera had died about a fourth into the walk. The trail was slightly muddy but not to bad for being the beginning of May. Some neat history here as well.



Nashoba Brook Trail- This trail was packed with history about the area that range from prehistoric to the industrial area. There are information panels along the trail about what the structures use to be, who use to live on the land through out time, and some of the local plant life. Would have to say this was my favorite hike.



Pacy Land- This was the shortest of all the hikes. It was about a half mile loop and there was no wildlife besides birds. The location is kinda weird too. It is on the back end of a rotary so the entire neighborhood knows you are there. Great for a quick trail run though.



Pratts Brook- This hike we got caught in a short but intense thunder and lightning storm. There was a point were were running through the woods to try and get back to the car. It ended up clearing up after a 5 minute storm. Thunder and lightning like crazy for a moment.



Spring Hill- This was the third trail we did, in April. It was fun and great to start getting out into nature again after living in the city for so long. What I forgot about was the mud. Most of the trail we walked was like a river (like actual moving water) and in some places the mosquitoes were unbearable. Reminder for this year BRING BUG SPRAY!



Stoneymeade- I had two favorite parts to this trail. One was coming across the walls of an old building and seeing some bright colored graffiti. Just randomly in the middle of the woods. The other part was there were sections that just looked jungle like. We had done this trail later in the afternoon and the way the sun came through the foliage was majestic and showed the beauty of the world.



Wetherbee- This one is located off of a bypass near the local jail. There is no parking lot so you just pull off to the side of the road. The forest was beautiful and the field was huge. Definitely a good spot for start gazing if you ever have the chance.



Wills Hole- This one was hiked in the late fall. After most of the leaves from the trees had fallen. The picture here with the purple and whitish colored leaves was a surprise. This group of trees looked like a soft cloud in the middle of a dozing forest.





Traveling to these trails allowed us to find some new restaurants, a couple of good mom and pop book stores that I went back and visited. My personal favorite is that I came across some farmers markets. I have missed the farmers markets since being back on the east coast and it was a joy to find some out this way. Exploring with a loved one was amazing and we will be doing another two challenges this year!! Stay tuned.


If you are interested in completing this challenge here is the link to the website. Acton Trails (actonma.gov). Some information may have changed since we completed this trail. The information in this post is accurate upon time of our completion of challenge.


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