First in an occasional series on local hikes – when you can’t be in the mountains but really, really need to be in the woods.
In a perfect world, we’d be in the Whites almost every weekend, even in winter. Lately, however, real life – work, school, weather, family obligations – has conspired to keep us anchored close to home.
You would think living in Gloucester would mean there’s little opportunity for hiking. You’d be wrong – what most people don’t know is America’s oldest seaport is mostly wooded. Sure, there’s little to no elevation so you’re not going to mimic climbing a 4,000-footer. Still, there are miles of trails, many of them sufficiently remote to provide a little quiet and solitude.
Last week, the boy and I headed to Tompson Reservation, an Essex County Greenbelt property off Route 133 about five minutes from my house. Though small at 302 acres, the reservations many trails cross frequently, meaning you can hike there for weeks and have a different experience every time, wandering through marshes and boulder fields and along what used to be Tompson Street, which served as a Colonial-era highway between Gloucester and Ipswich.
There are enough ups and downs to get your heard pumping if you move fast enough. The highest point in the reservation is Mt. Sunset, which, while basically a large hill, offers an outstanding view of Cape Ann and beyond. (We’ll be headed back at sunset sometime this spring, to see if the view lives up to its reputation.)
What I love most about Tompson is the sense of solitude it offers. It’s not as popular as some other local spots, and the entrance is off the beaten path. It’s often possible to spend an hour or two in the woods and not see another person. That’s something you can’t always say about the north country…
For a map of the Tompson Street Reservation, click here.