Conservation work focuses on connectivity: between people and the land, between individuals and community, and, for ecological and recreational reasons, between and among different pieces of protected land. Many of us look for connecting trails to extend our hikes, rides or runs – and as new ways to get to know the landscape of the town. A case in point: it’s possible to walk – almost exclusively on trails – through the enormously varied landscapes of Holy Hill, Kaufman Land, the Town Forest, and Ohlin Land.
Park at the Holy Hill Lot on South Shaker Road, then head north into the property, where you can choose loops of varying lengths. Returning to the parking lot, pass by your car as you head south into the Kaufman Land. Following the yellow blazes, you will emerge onto Poor Farm Road, where a bridge will take you across Route 2. A quick left, following the bridge, will take you into the Town Forest, where, again, you can choose your own adventure from among several interweaving trails. Emerging near the Village Nursery School and crossing Poor Farm Road to Ohlin Lane, locate the entrance to Ohlin Land on your right. Having made it down to Bowers Brook (and one of the best views in town), retrace your steps back to the Town Forest, and then back to your car at Holy Hill.
Why connect these trails?
You will experience, in short order, a microcosm of the town. Holy Hill is an enormously rich cultural landscape, featuring the Shaker’s hilltop “Dancing Ground”, where Shakers whirled late into the night, cultivating “spiritual gifts”. The Kaufman Land and the Old Town Forest (really one piece of land bisected by Rt. 2) feature rocky outcrops, abundant and diverse flora, and, improbably, a single 18th-century gravestone. The Ohlin Land feels like a world unto itself: a ravine, where a cool and shaded hemlock/ pine forest meets the deep, braided channels of Bowers Brook. It’s worth noting that, in the course of traveling this route, you cross from one watershed (Stony Brook) into another (the Nashua). I’ll leave it to you to figure out where that happens.
A few pictures, from a recent run: