Middlesex County High Point Trip Report

one area on northeast shoulder of Nutting Hill (1,580+ ft)

Date: January 16, 2004
Author: Dave Covill

This is a moderate walk on an old logging road, followed by a short trail walk and a very short bushwhack. It was very cold, about zero to ten maybe, and blowing in gusts up to 30 mph. Its about 400 feet up in about a mile via the most direct trail. From Route 2, more or less an interstate highway, just west of Fitchburg MA, zero odometer, take 140 northwest 2.2 miles. Go right (northeast) on 101 to Ashburnham, arriving at 6.5 miles. Cross east-west route 12, and continue to mile 10.6, at which point you go left (northwest) on route 119. Continue on 119 to 11.9 miles. Thatís about 1.3 miles up from the intersection. Turn in on the right (northeast) side to a small parking area for the access trailhead to the Mid-State and Wapack trail system access. These trails go north-south in MA, and extend into NH to Mount Monadnock and beyond.

As previous reports indicate, the trails will take you to Mt Watatic (pronounced "Wahhhh Tayyy Tick" with the final "T" barely discernable, accent on the second syllable). The trail is mostly an old logging road, and goes downhill slightly at first, maybe 40 feet at most, into a swampy area, then gently uphill for a bit over a half mile to a crest. I found it useful, in the winter conditions, to hike along and above the left-hand edge of the road, up and out of the ruts which were ice-filled. This trail has small yellow blazes in both directions.

About 1/2 of the way up, a junction is reached where the yellow trail bears right (southeast) and ascends to Mt Watatic. Continue straight ahead, still northeast, on the now blaze-less trail another quarter mile at most. Just before the crest, a blue-blazed trail goes left (north) towards NH. A good sign indicates that it is 0.06 mile to the Wapack Trail. Once up to the crest, you reach a T-junction with the main trail running north-south along the ridgeline. The route to the left has blue blazes, and goes north to NH. This and the trail you just went by meet each other about a half-mile to the north, along the ridge. If it seems to you silly that there be two trails here doing the same thing, a mere 100 yards from each other and parallel to each other for a half mile, I concur. I suspect one was built before the other, and the other was deemed to be better, and the earlier one never abandoned, but simply left as an n alternative path.

I was able to discern all this by Googling to "Mt Watatic" and "Nutting Hill" on the Internet, and found a nice map not available at the TH anyways.

The route to the right now has yellow blazes again, and leads to Mt Watatic, up and over Nutting Hill, just to the south of you. From here, head south towards Nutting Hill, which is worthy of a brief visit, as itís summit area is somewhat bald, and has a few cairns around. Before the open, rocky outcrop that signals the impending top of Nutting Hill, perhaps a level 200 yard stroll from the trail junction, notice a faint path heading left (northeast) and slightly downhill. This faint trail goes downhill for perhaps 100 yards, winding slightly, and has no markings of any kind. When it goes back uphill, it soon reaches a very faint stonewall, passing through it via a 10+ foot gap. This probably marks the Middlesex County line. Recall you have been in Worcester County this whole time. You get the sense you are the top of a very gentle rise. The ground is a few feet higher to the left (northwest). I found the highest ground to be on the stonewall, perhaps 100 feet to the left (northwest), where some barbed wire was evident for a few feet, just at a large (for the vicinity) tree. It isnít large per se, but it does have about 10+ individual trunks procreating from its base upwards. I saw 2 glass jars at the base, but they were empty. Being wintertime, I could not discern the species of tree. There was 6-8 inches of snow everywhere, so I may have missed a register.

The topos maps available on Topozone are in metric elevations. The map I had copied years ago at the Denver Public Library was in feet. Interestingly, the contours are similar, but not identical. The older one does not show a closed contour at the Middlesex cohp, but rather a flat area. The newer one clearly shows a closed contour, which was the sense I got as I approached it, the area being slightly, perhaps 10-15 feet, uphill as I walked towards it from the main trail on the ridge. From the top of Nutting Hill, I had a nice view in most directions. The cohp is in dense woods, with no view.

The whole hike took about an hour.