Wapack Trail Out and Back

Back before the Internet was common currency, I’d heard about the Wapack Trail.  Two different outfits organize races there. There’s an 18-mile out-and-back race in September, and an ultra in May.  For some reason I’d never made it to either race, but the Wapack has been in the back of my mind for some years.

Two weeks ago, I ran a portion of the Wapack Trail before heading home from a family reunion.  Because I had a time limit, an end-to-end trip was out.

Conceived in 1922, the Wapack is approximately as old as the Appalachian Trail.  It runs 21.3 miles from Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack in Greenfield, NH.

Starting from the southern terminus in Ashburnham, I headed north.

A stone wall, halfway to the summit of Mt Watatic on the Wapack Trail.

A stone wall, south of Mt Watatic’s summit on the Wapack Trail.

Going to the summit of Mt Watatic, the trail ascends steeply in places.  Here and there, I noticed crampon scrapes on rock.  After half an hour, I topped out.  Hot and humid, you could see Mt Greylock to the southwest – no photo because my camera wouldn’t cut it.

Wild blueberries.

Wild blueberries.

Leaving the summit, I misread the trail markings at a three-way intersection and blundered downhill for three-quarters of a mile on a grassy herd path before realizing I’d messed up.  Another blaze might have been nice, but hey, I got some additional vertical gain!  Regaining the intersection, I went the right way.

view of mt watatic from the north

Summit of Mt Watatic from the north.

A four-way intersection marks the MA-NH state line.  From here, the trail widens, the vibe is more that of a fire road than single track.  A couple of other fire roads come in from the side.  You pass a house close to the trail, and then emerge from the woods to a logged-over section.

Clearcut section with trail marker.

Clearcut section with trail marker.

A half mile walk through the clearcut, and the trail veered hard left, back into the woods towards Binney Pond.  The sawtooth profile of the next three peaks beckoned, but it looked to be beyond the cutoff time I’d set for myself.


Your correspondent.

On the way back to Mt Watatic, I stopped to snack on wild blueberries.  Two women nearby harvested as many as they could, while encouraging some city people to try them:  “They’re way better than what you get at Whole Foods.”

While it may not as well known as the Appalachian Trail or the Long Trail, the Wapack merits your attention.  I’ll be back to check it out.