By Joey Mendolia
BU News Service
If you’re looking to get out of the city for the day, look no further than Leominster State Forest. Located an hour northwest of Boston, its intricate landscape and variety of recreational activities offer visitors the perfect escape from the fast-paced city life.
Leominster State Forest (pronounced Lay-minster) encompasses 4,300 acres of pristine forest and is nestled between five towns: Fitchburg, Leominster, Westminster, Sterling and Princeton.
Its tallest points are the Crow Hills, at 1,234 feet and 1,220 feet, respectfully. If you decide to hike to these points, you’ll find two trails are most accessible from the main parking lots, Crow Hill Trail and Midstate Trail, the latter being part of a trail that extends 95 miles from New Hampshire to Road Island.
Taking Crow Hill Trail, the elevation gain is rather quick and steep, so be ready to feel the burn. The rocky landscape provides excellent stepping-stones as you traverse your way up the mountain.
Around three-quarters of the way up, you may come across a group of rock climbers trying to navigate the Crow Hills Cliff. Climbing and bouldering are also popular activities in Leominster State Forest.
Round three or four more corners and you’ll find yourself at the top of the Crow Hills Cliff, gazing out over rolling hills and a small collection of ponds.
On your way down, try taking the Midstate Trail. Leading left from Crow Hills Cliff, the Midstate Trail is far more gradual than Crow Hill Trail. It’s paths wind through the forest, enabling hikers to slow down, and depending on time of year, watch the leaves change.
Once you reach the bottom, cross the road, and hike along the short trail that leads you through wetlands, and back to your car in the parking lot.
If you brought your bathing suit, go for a swim in one of the ponds you saw from Crow Hills Cliff. The park has two main ponds, Crocker and Crow Hill, and they sit beside a vast lawn full of picnic tables and built in grills. The ponds are open for swimming, fishing, and the use of canoes and kayaks.
If nature is what your looking for, and you don’t feel like driving three hours to get it, Leominster State Forest will welcome you with open arms.
If You Go…
•From Boston: Travel north through Somerville and merge onto Route 2 West. Take Exit 28 to Rt. 31 South. Drive 1 mile for the office building entrance on the right. Drive another .07 of a mile to the park entrance on the left.
•There is a large parking lot on site.
•Bring a camera and explore as much of the park as you can!