Beyond Wellesley: a 2-mile walk around Weston Reservoir

I’ve walked the Weston Reservoir loop in the past and wasn’t a fan. Too many people, too many unleashed dogs loping about, too much fencing, which parsed the water view into metal diamond shapes of chain-link. I’m always good for a nice 2-mile hike on a wide path that cuts through a towering pine forest, but the drama of this trail! After two dogs came up behind me in the full snarl of a real fight, their frantic owners trying to call them off each other, I concluded this particular walk wasn’t the kind of quiet, nature-based experience I sought. I swore off the Weston Reservoir loop.

Weston Reservoir
Wide trails and towering pines of the Weston Reservoir trails make this a tremendously popular hiking spot.

That was a few years ago, on a perfect summer day. What would happen, I wondered, if I went right now, when packed snow and ice would likely deter a good number of walkers? If I could sneak in when those who need hip replacements (both human and canine) didn’t dare set out, a better experience might result, I reasoned. Since I’m just one fall away from needing my own hip replacement, but am still (over) confident in my balance and reflexes, I strapped on my Yaktraxs and headed to the trail. My plan proved sound.

Putting 153 Ash St., Weston into my GPS took me to a small, unpaved parking area, across the street from the trailhead, in under 20 minutes from Wellesley. There, the Friends of Weston Reservoir, a stewardship group, maintains boxes that supply “mutt mitts” for dog owners to clean up after their pets. Their efforts seem to encourage an ethos of respect along the trail, which was clean as a whistle. That’s saying something since I went when packed snow covered the ground, so there was nowhere for inconsiderate behavior to hide.

Weston Reservoir
A peek at the Weston Reservoir through the chain-link fencing.

Ah, a winter hike at this spot was more like it. With enough activity on the trail, which included a very striking group of five or so standard poodles and their owners, the walk felt populated and friendly. Passersby greeted one another with hellos or nods as they enjoyed time on the reservoir, part of the Weston Aqueduct Linear District, and listed since 1990 on the National Register of Historic Places.

The reservoir covers 3.5 square miles and reaches a maximum depth of 110 feet, but its water is not what comes out of Weston’s taps. The Weston Reservoir is maintained by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority as a backup distribution system. So if something happens to interrupt the flow of water from the Quabbin Reservoir to the good people of Weston, two underground storage tanks holding Weston water will take care of emergency distribution needs.

Weston Reservoir
Weston Reservoir

On the water, a thin layer of shoreline ice gave way to open water further out. On land, the wide path was covered with a combination of packed snow, ice, pine needles, and muddy spots, with plenty of roots underfoot to pick your way over and around. By keeping the water to my left and following those ahead of me, I found my way with no trouble at all. Although there are several offshoot paths, getting lost is unlikely if your goal is lapping the reservoir. Before I knew it, the trail spilled me back out onto Ash Street, just a little farther down the road, but within view, from where I entered the trail.

I’m glad I gave the Weston Reservoir loop another try. It’s always best practice to keep a mental list of good walking spots, keeping in mind that not every place works for every person, every season.

Weston Reservoir
Weston Reservoir

If you go…

The Weston Reservoir trail is a very dog-friendly area, and you should expect to encounter many unleashed dogs enjoying their freedom. If you want to walk your dog leash free, know that Weston’s rules require that you, “Carry a leash for each dog in your care.” More on Weston’s by-laws related to dogs.