If you’re looking for a quick and pretty walk in Wellesley with water views, changing fall foliage, and the scent of pine trees—and perhaps some other olfactory exposures—try out the trails in the Longfellow Pond area, a small section of the 221-acre Wellesley Town Forest. You can’t miss the Oakland Street parking lot, or the trailheads, which you can access on either side of the lot.
I waked toward the trailhead to the right as I faced the pond, and set out for a pleasant experience. As I made my way along the wide path, I took a deep breath of autumn. Inhale—ahh, the crisp, cool temperatures awakened me from a mid-afternoon slump. Exhale—let’s power walk, baby. Another inhale—the strong smell of cigarette smoke. Wait, what? No way I’m going to breathe secondhand smoke during my commune with nature. When two paths diverged in a wood, I grabbed my chance and took the one less smoked on, banking right to hike up the steep esker, marked with the red trail arrows.
There’s irony here. As Josh Dorin has pointed out in his Wellesley History blog, “Longfellow Pond is not natural. Rather, it’s entirely man-made and, furthermore, very little of the surrounding environment has been untouched by humans. Look closely and this should be obvious, from the dam and concrete piers at the north end of the pond to…the sewer and gas lines that run underneath the pond.”
Here are some pictures of my hike, along with some musings, and a little history about the area.
The foliage was just starting to turn during my mid-October hike in this area that looks perfectly preserved, but that’s actually been nipped and tucked more often than a Hollywood celebrity. In 1815, Rosemary Brook was permitted to be dammed at the request of business owners. The result was Longfellow Pond. Industrial concerns came and went over the years, among them a nail factory and a paper mill. But it was the ice house that lasted the longest, harvesting frozen blocks from the pond from the late 1800s through until the 1920s. Remnants can still be seen along the shores.
The days are now rare when the shallow Longfellow Pond, which reaches a depth of only about 5 feet, freezes solid enough to harvest blocks (a [Read more…]