The Quabbin Fire Roads


The Quabbin is a favorite place of mine: I’ve blogged about it before. When road riding, I ride to it. I’ve hiked it. I’ve snowshoed it. I’ve fished it. I’ve boated it. And now I’ve mountain biked it.

The Quabbin is a huge place. From the “Friends of the Quabbin” site: The reservoir is 18 miles long from north to south and covers 25,000 acres. Counting the islands, there are 181 miles of shoreline. When full, the reservoir has a capacity of 412 billion gallons, the top one inch representing 750 million gallons. The deepest part of Quabbin Reservoir is 151′, just north of Winsor Dam.  This is all in the little state of Massachusetts.

I found a gate to the Quabbin I had never been at–not hard to do when you’re at such a big place. It was an easy ride–all fire roads, all sloping down. There’s an ongoing forestry management project in various areas of the Quabbin, and some logging was evident but nothing looked recent. I stayed on a maze of descending fire roads and quickly found my way to the water’s edge.

The climb back up from the reservoir was slow and steady. Since I was on fire roads the terrain was not difficult. This allowed me to take in the scenery–beautiful, quiet, clear and bright. The thing that always gets me about being in the woodlands surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir is the sensation of life teeming all around you. Wildlife is abundant, and if you are still, the quietness of the forest is replaced by the rustling of many creatures going about their days. From my experience snowshoeing there, I was always shocked at the sheer foot traffic crisscrossing through the woods (snow reveals their tracks). There are deer, bear, porcupine, bobcat, fox, coyote, raccoon, skunk, and the bald eagle has made quite a comeback in the State of Massachusetts at the Quabbin. In the summer, the foliage hides populations of animals. But make no mistake–you are surrounded.

Which is why I got a little concerned when I kept spotting bear scat on my path. I had never seen so much bear scat in all my life. For miles I came across it–like the trail I was on was Yogi’s privy. Not that I spend a lot of time examining poo–but I’ve read my tracking books and know what it looks like. Most of it was less than 24 hours old, and some within the last 12 or less. I glanced around at the high ferns surrounding me and pressed on. Not that I really was worried, but if given the choice, I’d rather not have a close encounter with a bear, especially while alone.

I exited the forest unscathed: 8.5 miles and plans to return (with a friend).

-Karen

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