The Great Wild Bridge Chase

Elm-Brook

By Dan Brosgol

Attention runners: I’m happy to report that the trail-running hiatus might be officially over, as 50-degree days in February are the new normal and there’s basically no snow on the ground.

In my ongoing mission to explore strange new worlds, or new trails that may or may not appear on the Town website, I have now made not one, but two unsuccessful attempts to find the trail that runs from the end of Washington Street, through the Elm Brook Conservation Area, and across Elm Brook, arriving at the four-way intersection of the Reformatory Branch Trail and the path to Winchester Street/ John Glenn Middle School (aka Elm Brook Junction). In my mind, and readers and abutters please correct me if I’m wrong, this trail should cross the new Washington Street footbridge that was approved at Town Meeting in 2015…, but then again, I’m actually pretty sure that that project has not been completed, making this visionary quest nothing more than a wild goose chase, or better yet, a wild bridge chase. But the point of this story is not my hunt for a phantom bridge, but what I found along the way. So read on.

The first time I tried to find this trail was back in November, and I began from inbound side of the bike path, heading into the Conservation Area right before Elm Brook Junction and meandering around what was definitely a trail, but not one that crossed Elm Brook. FAIL

The second time was yesterday, when I headed in from the dead end on Washington Street, assuming that I would find a path that turned right and then, after a minute or two, crossed Elm Brook. Imagine my surprise when I found an entirely different trail heading in the opposite direction winding its way into the woods south of Elm Brook, behind the old Naval Weapons plant, and dropped me off in the back corner of one of the large outdoor turf fields at the Edge sports facility.

Trails - 6

I ran along that field, passing about a dozen stray lacrosse balls, and eventually headed home along Hartwell. All told, it was a short run from my house through the wilderness and back, about 3.5 miles start to finish, but it’s definitely not every day that one uncovers a new trail. And given my gimpy Achilles tendon, any excuse to run off-road and not on-road means that I’ll be going all-in on finding new trails for the foreseeable future.

Here’s to warmer weather, easy running, and good times on the trails. Hope to see everyone out there at the Bedford Rotary Run on May 7 that will be heading over some of that same terrain.


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