Bay Circuit Trail Section 16

Posted By on August 7, 2017

12.18 miles; Sherborn and Medfield, MA

I really gotta be more careful about mileage estimates on this trail. I had estimated today’s hike to be about 10.5 miles, and it turned out to be almost 12.25. That’s very different. See, there were 2 parking areas on Noon Hill Road in Medfield. For the hike to have been 10.5 miles, I would have had to park at the near one. But not realizing there were 2 parking areas, I parked at the far one. It meant I had an entire extra preserve to hike.

It was, however, amazing and a lot of fun, so there’s that. I was on three Trustees of the Reservations properties today, which are uniformly perfectly maintained and gorgeous.

Canoe Camp on the Charles River

The first of the 3 Trustees properties today was Rocky Narrows in Sherborn. This is a beautiful place! The trails, and there are a lot of them, meander back and forth with views of the Charles River, and there’s one spot called “King Phillip’s Overlook.”

And here it is. I’ve been to quite a few places in southern New England labelled “King Phillip’s Something-or-Other.” Not for nothing, but that guy got around.

One of at the Five (not saying which one)

At this point in my narrative, I should probably ask anyone reading this who is from the Trustees of the Reservations, the Bay Circuit Trail Alliance, the town of Sherborn, and the Federal Railroad Administration to click HERE. The rest of you can read on.

The route of the BCT through Rocky Narrows was a little tortured in order to avoid walking across some railroad tracks that ran through the middle of the property which were very clearly labelled: Railroad policy forbids pedestrian crossing of tracks in this area and we urge all visitors to observe this restriction.” Well, one glance at the map for Rocky Narrows and it seemed pretty clear to me that there was probably a trail crossing the tracks. I figured if I could find a way across it would save me a long, tedious stretch of road-walking, and yup, I was right. In fact, the sight of some old white blazes told me this used to be the original route of the BCT.

In actual fact, I crossed more railroad tracks on this one hike than I have ever crossed on foot in my life. Ever. And all but one of the crossings were perfectly legal. One out five isn’t bad at all. 

Clethra a.k.a. Summersweet

The woods were especially perfumed today with the intoxicating scent of Clethra alnifolia, otherwise known as Summersweet, and it truly is.

Crossing the Charles River

I’ve passed another milestone on this hike: crossing the Charles River. This is the Charles River Reservation, and is one of several non-Trustees properties on this part of the route. It’s owned and managed by the State of Massachusetts and it’s a “linear park,” which extends from Boston Harbor up the river for 20 miles. There was a BCT re-route through here, not sure why.

Speaking of re-routes, I’ve found that you can’t always count on the BCT route as it appears on the Open Hiking Map, I assume simply because the route of the BCT changes for various reasons. This part of today’s hike included a couple of those re-routes.


After meandering through lots and lots of municipal property in Medfield (the Charles River marks the boundary between Sherborn and Medifield), I wound up at about the 5-mile mark at a massive Little League/soccer industrial complex, which came complete with picnic tables and portajohns. It was a perfect spot to stop for a bit and have a nosh and rehydrate. And then un-hydrate (I do love me some hikes with bathrooms).

Cemetery Pond

The next property along my route was the Vine Lake Cemetery. It was a very large place, and I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say that this pond is Vine Lake? I think I lost the trail somewhere in here, too, because the guide had me coming out a main gated entrance, and I didn’t even see a gate where I did finally emerge. I was able to pick up the trail fairly easily, however, once I got out onto Route 109. The blazing in here was a bit inconsistent.

Hike So Far

Every now and then you come across a fancy Bay Circuit Trail sign that includes a map. I can’t believe I’ve already walked as far as I have.

After the cemetery there was a VERY long stretch of road-walking, including a 1.2 mile jaunt along a road that went through what seemed to be a vast wetland that was managed by the Corps of Engineers. It was cool, but still road walking. Ugh.

Insect Nest?

Anyway, eventually I made it to the Shattuck Reservation, the second of the three Trustees properties I walked today. This is another very lovely property, and speaking of well-maintained, I came around a corner to confront a man with a chainsaw.

Visions of serial killers flashed through my head, but I was actually too tired to care. Plus it turned out that he was not, in fact, a serial killer, but a trail maintenance worker, and his partner was also there, not too much further down the trail. He asked if I had seen any downed trees, which of course I had not.

Also, I saw the above hollow log with some odd cone-shaped structures inside. Insect nests? Don’t know. I’m going to harass my naturalist friend and get you guys a definitive I.D. Watch this post for updates.

Uh, Deer Leg

Then I saw this. It appears to be a leg of a deer. In a tree. Shattuck Reservation, thank you for this. I kind of needed a brain-goosing at this point, and you did not disappoint. I can hardly even speculate on the circumstances which resulted in a deer leg winding up in a tree. The most benign I can come up with is a prankster. The least benign explanation? Mountain lions stash deer carcasses in trees. Moving on…

Now You’re Just Messing with Me

Not 50 feet from the ominous deer leg, I saw this tucked into the base of a tree. Ok, Shattuck Reservation. Now you’re just messing with me.

Now as I mentioned earlier (waaay earlier—sorry for the long post, but hey, it was a long walk!), Shattuck Reservation should have been my last property, and my car should have been parked on the reservation’s Noon Hill Road parking area. But no… I mis-parked at the Noon Hill Reservation‘s parking area. Another whole preserve to go!

Naturally, the highest point of this entire section was on the last of the three Trustees properties, the Noon Hill Reservation. It was another very pretty place, with a beautiful overlook spot. I would really like to tell you more about the Noon Hill Reservation, but I frankly don’t remember much more than climbing up Noon Hill and then back down to my car.

You can read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the GPS track.

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