Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cross Country Skiing at Great Brook Ski Touring Center

The last few weeks we've seen a fair amount of snow in Massachusetts. With the cold weather temperatures the snow has actually stuck around for more than a few days before melting and becoming somewhat icy. So my good friend Jenny and I struck out for some early Sunday morning cross country skiing at Great Brook Ski Touring Center. I know this isn't a hiking post but it seems that I only get the chance to do some cross country skiing about once a winter. Its actually kind of sad because I really do enjoy it. I only have a few friends that also cross country ski and the winters have been rather spotty lately with snow.

You've seen previous posts from me regarding hiking at Great Brook (and getting ice cream). In the winter there is a lodge/barn close to the road where the ski operations run out of. In the past, I've shown up mid afternoon or for their mid week lantern skiing. This time we arrived as they just opened up their doors. Unfortunately, one of my boots broke on a previous trip and I needed to rent ski equipment. Rentals fortunately were not all that expensive and being one of the first in line it was a quick job to do. We geared up and hit the trails immediately deciding to cross the road and get as far from the lodge as possible.

The trails are all machine groomed and with the fresh snow they were looking lovely. We followed the Maple Ridge trail down to Pine Point Loop. We quickly realized that they had added new trails since the last time we skied Great Brook. In fact, the map we got at the lodge didn't include all of the new trails. The new map is on their website though with the added trails.

 We followed the Pine Point Loop counterclockwise and followed a few short detours. The trail is fairly flat and easy to warm up on. We went out on the Beaver trail and found that the picnic table had been removed. Typically this is where we would have a snack and watch for wild life. We stood and had snacks quietly and observed the light coming through the trees.
Our old picnic spot is missing its table
Beaver trail snack stop
From there we continued around the Pine Point Loop and crossed the bridge that goes over the outlet for Meadow Pond. We had decided not to cross the street and pursue the more challenging trails. Our last trip on the difficult trails involved an injury and a hospital adventure. Since neither of us had been skiing in a while, we were wise and recognized that we weren't up for the challenge. 
Outlet for Meadow Pond
Meadow Pond from the bridge

Continuing up Pine Point Loop
We completed the loop and decided to head over to the corn fields behind the ice cream stand. As we crossed the road we could see a lovely horse grazing near the fence. He was quite content to pose for pictures.  
Pretty Horse
 We followed the Litchfield Loop and discovered a new trail off the side which included a huge hill. We watched several people tumble down it and decided to turn back towards some more basic trails. We continued on the Litchfield Loop and found the High Meadow Trail. On that trail we could hear a woodpecker tapping away. Jenny spotted him quickly and was able to point him out. He was a little guy just enjoying the sun and an old dead tree. 
Litchfield Loop
The High Meadow trail looped back onto the Lantern Loop and we set off back towards the ski center. As we approached we could tell that more and more people were showing up. The trails were becoming quite crowded. When we arrived at the beginning of our morning the lines were minimal. As I went in to return my rentals, the line was at the door and heading out. It was a lovely day for a ski but I'm glad we made the choice to go early and I plan to do so from now on.   
Ski Center Lodge

Where:  


Great Brook Ski Touring Center, 1018 Lowell Street, Carlisle, MA1018 Lowell Street, Carlisle, MA 01741

Directions:

  • From Rte. 128 (I-95) take Exit 31B.  Follow Rte. 225 west for 7 miles to the Carlisle center rotary, then turn right on Lowell St. (following the sign to Chelmsford).  The ski touring center is 2 miles ahead on the right.
  • From Rte. 2 exit at signs for Concord center and continue to the downtown rotary.  At the Colonial Inn, take Lowell Rd. north for 5 miles to Carlisle center.  (Lowell Rd. in Concord becomes Concord St. in Carlisle.)  At the Carlisle center rotary, turn left on Lowell St. (following the sign to Chelmsford).  The ski touring center is 2 miles ahead on the right.
  • From I-495 southbound take Exit 34.  Follow Rte. 110 west for 0.6 miles to Chelmsford center, continue on Rte. 4 south for 1 mile, then fork right on Concord Rd.  The ski touring center is 2 miles ahead on the left.
  • From I-495 northbound take Exit 33.  Follow Rte. 4 south for 1.5 miles (passing through Chelmsford center), then fork right on Concord Rd.  The ski touring center is 2 miles ahead on the left.



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