Saturday, September 8 we decided to do a 10 mile lollipop hike in the Monroe State Forest, located in Monroe, Massachusetts. Actually the proverbial “we” was Mike who found the hike, as a trail run race and decided it would be a great hike to do, to get some miles in.
We haven’t hike 10 miles in years and to be honest I wasn’t sure my legs would make it. I looked at the map and realized there were ways to cut it short, if “we” or rather I had to bail out due to legs giving out. We followed this map to plot our course. It was really helpful to us to identify the wood roads and landmarks to look for.
We parked at River Road and followed the Dunbar Brook Trail that went down the stairs and followed the brook for about .5 miles.
To be honest I was fearful of those steps after descending them, knowing I would have to go back up them at the end of the hike and my tired legs would hate me for them. We turned onto the Smith Hollow Trail with a sharp incline until the shelter.
At the shelter the incline was less and we followed the trail to the Raycroft Lookout Trail.
We followed the Raycroft Outlook to check out the views. It was well worth it to add-on the extra mile and so out and back.
After we reached the junction of trails, coming out of the lookout, we followed Spruce HIll Trail to the summit of Spruce Mountain.
We descended Spruce Mountain via the Spruce Hill Trail. Some of the hike required rambling on old roads to reach the next trail junction. Those road walks, increased our speed and allowed us to eat our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the go.
We then turned on the Dunbar Brook Trail, following the Brook and had a few water crossings, sometimes with the assist of bridges. This section of trail was beautiful, following the river.
The last section before we closed the loop and joined the stick of the lollipop hike required a walk across the brook. My feet rejoiced as they hit the cooling water. After 10.5 miles they were about done and overheating in my shoes.
We closed the loop and headed out. Remember those stairs I was dreading? Well somehow I took a different path out and came out above them, avoiding them and let me tell you I rejoiced at having skipped them.
Throughout this hike I repeated two mantras “rock what ya got and those are those chubby legs, that are powerful” and “I can do hard things”. Honestly I wasn’t sure if I would come off the trail smiling, when we began. Guess what? I was smiling because I survived not a 10 mile hike, but an 11 mile one!
Stats: 11 miles, 2400 elevation gain, 5.5 hours.