For many of us in Arlington, going for a walk is one of the best antidotes for pandemic self-isolation. I live off of Pleasant Street near Route 2, and hiking up to and around Menotomy Rocks Park is a regular routine. On good days I go all the way up to Robbins Park and around the water tower. These are my standards, and plenty of my neighbors are enjoying similar outings, but I also like to escape a bit further west for a change of scene.
I’ve visited Concord’s Punkatasset Woods for many years, but these days my usual parking spot on Monument Street has been full. For help finding alternative access to my favorite woods, I turned to the AllTrails smartphone app and discovered a lovely “back door” access via a Concord Land Conservation Trust parcel called Chamberlin Woods.
On a very beautiful, and busy, first Sunday in May, my wife and I parked at the trail entrance on the north-bound side of Lowell St. While many of the better-known trail parking lots were packed, there is room here for about 20 cars and we found a free space.
The path leads gently into tall pines, occasionally crossing muddy bits of swamp and slow streams, and then crosses into the Estabrook woods and some private land for less than a mile to a stunning outcrop overlooking Bateman’s pond and the back side of Middlesex School.
We sat and enjoyed a strong southwest wind coming across the pond before looping back to the trail head. Fiddlehead ferns were just starting to uncurl along with skunk cabbages in the swamps. The pine-needle-carpeted trail crossed many different kinds of mosses, and nuthatches, red-bellied woodpeckers, blue jays and red-tailed hawks kept us company. On another day, we’ll bring provisions and hike further in past the overlook to join up with the main Estabrook and Punkatasset trails to the east.
I recommend the app, which does a good job of showing the profusion of available trails. Just remember to charge your phone battery.
ALT Board member