Wild oats (photo by Webmaster)

Midstate Trail above Blood Swamp shortly before the memorial benches (photo by Webmaster)

Long Pond and Blood Swamp on the Midstate Trail

Destinations:  Long Pond, Blood Swamp
Trail:  Midstate Trail from Rutland to Barre
Region:  MA - Central North  
Location:  Rutland, MA
Rating:  Easy  
Features:  Pond, wetlands
Distance:  7.9 miles  
Elevation Gain:  750 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 3:30   Typical: 4:20  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 4:30   Typical: 6:00  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/17/2008 (Saturday)  
Weather:  Sunny, about 60 degrees
Author:  Webmaster
Companion:  Twelve Midstaters

Route Summary   

This was a point-to-point hike along the Midstate Trail, starting in Rutland and ending in Barre. Although there are few textual signs, the Midstate Trail is very well blazed with yellow triangles - both metal and painted. Pay attention to the blazes to ensure you don't veer off on any intersecting trails. Some waypoints are described below to help keep you on track.

  • From the parking area on East Hill Road in Rutland, cross the street and enter the obvious trail on the other side.
  • Walk along the wide trail and soon reach Long Pond.
  • Bear left around the pond and head uphill to reach a lean-to 0.4 mile from East Hill Road.
  • Midstate Trail (photo by Webmaster)
  • Continue through the woods and reach Crawford Road after 1.0 mile and pick up the trail on the other side of the street.
  • After 0.6 mile through forest, you will reach Route 122. Cars travel fast and the sightline is relatively short, so take care when crossing the highway to reach the parking lot on the other side.
  • Head towards the back left-hand corner of the lot and walk along a rail trail, very soon bearing sharp right on a narrow trail while the rail trail continues to the left/straight.
  • Reach Whitehall Road 0.6 mile from Route 122. Go straight across Whitehall Road to follow the gravel Pine Plains Road. (Roads fork both left and right on the opposite side of Whitehall; you want the left fork.)
  • Pine Plains Road is open to vehicular travel but only gets light use; but be aware that you may be sharing the space with cars. Stay on this road for 1.7 miles until reaching Dike #3, only about 0.1 mile after crossing under some power lines.
  • Go straight/right across an open gravelly area and then into the woods while Pine Plains Road bears left. But before doing this, you may want to walk halfway across the dike and then look left for an interesting view over Blood Swamp.
  • The next 2.1 miles travel on narrow trails through woods with some access to Blood Swamp.
    • Shortly after leaving the dike, look for a spur path on the right that bends sharply back in the direction from which you came; it brings you up close to the wetlands area.
    • About a mile from the dike, you will walk through an opening in an obvious stone wall. Shortly after this will be a trail junction where the Midstate Trail continues straight and another path turns left (keep a sharp eye or you may miss this junction). Continuing straight on this segment of the Midstate is often wet and muddy as it runs much closer to Blood Swamp. We turned left to follow the "high-road" bypass route. Both trails rejoin after about a half-mile.
  • Next you will reach Blake Road. Cross the street and continue on the trail for 1.3 miles which will bring you to Barre Falls Dam. Just before the dam, you will come to a road; continue straight/right onto the road.
  • After crossing the dam, turn right and walk along a grassy area between woods and a chain link fence. Then turn left to go through a small segment of woods. Upon reaching a dirt road, turn left and then head uphill to reach the Barre Falls Dam upper parking lot 0.2 mile from the dam where you should have spotted a car before starting the hike.

Long Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Place         Split
East Hill Road (860') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Crawford Road (930') 1.4 1.4 0:38 0:38
Route 122 (860') 0.6 2.0 0:14 0:52
Whitehall Road (890') 0.6 2.6 0:13 1:05
Dike #3 (810') 1.7 4.3 0:39 1:44
Blake Road (830') 2.1 6.4 0:50 2:34
Upper lot at Barre Falls Dam (860') 1.5 7.9 0:56 3:30

Our group taking a break near the dike (photo by Webmaster)

Goldthread (photo by Webmaster)

Partridgeberry (photo by Webmaster)

Marsh marigold (photo by Webmaster)


Mushroom (photo by Webmaster)

The tower at Barre Falls Dam (photo by Webmaster)

Tamarack (photo by Webmaster)

  Trail Guide   

Trail map of hike route on the Midstate Trail from Rutland to Barre (map by Webmaster) This was a pleasant ramble along a 7.9 mile section of the Midstate Trail. We started in Rutland and headed north to end just beyond the Barre Falls Dam in Barre. The route was mostly flat with just a couple short but steep hills.

The walk from East Hill Road started on a wide woods path that soon delivered us to a beautiful view of Long Pond. The pond actually consists of three separate bodies of water separated by roads, running in a narrow north-south line, with a combined coverage of about 150 acres. We viewed the largest portion from its narrow southern-most end. Its waters were a deep blue and woods thickly populated its shorelines. The lower pond's depth ranges from 8-25 feet while the two northern-most ponds are only a few feet deep.

As the trail departed from the pond to the left, it became more narrow and climbed up a short hill to reach a small, open-face shelter with a fire pit at the height-of-land. We were now in Rutland State Park. The trail later became wider again and crossed Crawford Road and then the fast and busy Route 122.

At the Route 122 crossing is a large parking lot for both Rail Trail and Midstate Trail users. The Midstate route follows the Rail Trail for just a tad before turning right onto a narrow path. Growing close to the ground here, and along later sections of the path were the hot pink flowers of fringed polygala (Polygala paucifolia). The bloom has two petal-like sepals that look like big ears, and then three petals that are fused into a projecting tube sort of resembling an anteater's snout. At the end of the cylinder is a pinwheel type structure with fine fringe at the tip of each arm. Although the plant itself may only grow to be four inches tall, its root can be a foot long. It is also called gaywings or flowering wintergreen but should not be confused with the evergreen wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) plant which often grows along with it. Today I saw some wintergreen plants, which only grow up to six inches tall, overtowering the even smaller fringed polygala.

Soon we came out to Whitehall Road where we picked up Pine Plains Road. Although the majority of the trees were leafed out, near the start of the road was a tree not yet with its foliage so that its interesting silhouette was beautifully highlighted. We continued on the gravel road passing by a mixture of hardwoods and conifers. This is a quiet road and only one vehicle went by during our 1.7-mile stroll on this segment. There were more tiger swallowtail butterflies keeping us company than there were cars. And some in our group saw a bunch of salamanders.

We arrived at an open paved area by a dike (Dike #3). Taking a walk across the dike to the right is a worthy detour. Halfway across gives good access to views over Blood Swamp. Close by below the dike was a small pond and beyond that a long stretch of wetlands dotted by snags and conifers with a small hill visible in the distance.

Reentering the woods, we continued our trek north. Just a short ways in, a spur trail shoots off almost backwards to the right to head towards the shoreline of the pond that was visible from the dike.

The Midstate Trail route through this segment that parallels Blood Swamp mostly follows flat, narrow trails with many wildflowers on the sidelines. There were some wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia) bearing pale yellow bell-shaped blossoms, goldthread (Coptis groenlandica) with its five-petaled stalked blooms overtopping its three-parted evergreen leaves, wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia) with its more robust white petals bobbing above five-parted leaves, and dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius) which produces a sphere of tiny white flowers. Creeping along the ground was the evergreen partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) with tiny paired leaves and bearing red fruit.

We reached a trail junction where the Midstate Trail continues straight down closer to the margins of Blood Swamp while another trail turns left to avoid this wet and potentially mucky segment of the official trail. We turned left to follow the high-road up an easy hill and past a pretty stone wall with Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) and young ferns growing at its foot.

Blood Swamp where the bypass trail rejoins the official trail (photo by Webmaster) Soon we rejoined the official trail at a juncture with a view of Blood Swamp. The ground was covered with bright green growth and the woods were filled with bare trees. Doesn't sound very interesting but it was really beautiful - a "Kodak moment" as one of my trailmates called it.

Continuing along we hiked on the edge of a plateau overlooking a pond (part of the swamp still) through a thin screen of trees. Soon we entered into an open field with some beautiful crabapple trees with showy pink blossoms. There was also a solitary tamarack tree looking rather stately in its light green needles. And two memorial benches upon which to sit and enjoy an unobstructed view of the peaceful pond with conifers on its far bank. The benches are in honor of the deceased Rolf Larson and Bob Elms, both of whom played a very active role in the building and maintaining of the Midstate Trail. Both benches are engraved and Elms' reminds us that "it's the journey, not the destination" that's important.

Tree near the start of Pine Plains Road (photo by Webmaster) Leaving this park-like area behind, we regained the woods for a short ways and then came out to Blake Road. Popping back into the forest on the other side we crossed a small stream then headed up a steep winding hill with interesting rocky sections trailside and plentiful maple trees and sunshine giving the area sort of a light green glow. Shortly after cresting the hill were a couple of handy boulders offering a nice spot to take a break.

After some downhills the trail merged into a woods road and then onto a vehicular road that is part of the Barre Falls Dam recreation area. We soon arrived at a picnic area with parking, benches, picnic tables, fireplaces, and restrooms. And people. It was strange after not seeing anyone except for a Boy Scout troop and our own group on the trails to come upon an area where lots of people were enjoying the outdoors. However, it was not overcrowded or disruptive at all.

Just beyond the picnic area we traveled across the dam itself. Attached to the dam is a tall, square, castle keep-like structure. On the far side we turned right to follow a grassy strip with views down and out to the Ware River. Then we went left to enter a copse and soon crossed a stream that was brightened by the vibrant yellow blooms of marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). This delightful plant loves wet areas and can grow in extensive clumps. In spite of its name, this plant is not a marigold but belongs to the buttercup family and its 4-10 petal-like sepals are that same bright yellow as a buttercup. The color can be scraped off the sepals leaving transparent tissue.

After the stream we reached a dirt road. Here the Midstate Trail continues to the right but we turned left to reach the parking area just uphill where we had spotted cars before the hike, thus completing our 7.9 mile trek.

View of Blood Swamp from Dike #3 (photo by Webmaster)

The shelter in Rutland State Park (photo by Webmaster)

Wood anemone (photo by Webmaster)

Wintergreen (photo by Webmaster)

Fringed polygala (photo by Webmaster)

Dwarf ginseng (photo by Webmaster)

Pine Plains Road (photo by Webmaster)

MA - Central North

Fringed polygala buds (photo by Webmaster)

Midstate Trail near Long Pond (photo by Webmaster)
  Driving Directions   

Barre Falls Dam Upper Parking Lot:
  • Barre Falls Dam, the end point for this hike, is located in Barre, Massachusetts and is accessible from Route 62.
  • When heading west, travel 2.2 miles from the intersection of Routes 62 and 68 (on Route 62), then turn left onto the dam access road. Heading east, travel about 4.3 miles from Barre's town square, then turn right onto the dam access road. There is a sign for the dam at the turn.
  • Follow the road for about 0.6 mile, then pull into the first parking lot on the left (the dam itself is just a bit farther down this road).

Blood Swamp at the memorial benches (photo by Webmaster) East Hill Road Parking Area:
  • East Hill Road, the start point for this hike, is located indirectly off of Route 122 in Rutland, Massachusetts and is the start point for this hike.
  • From Paxton center where Routes 31, 122, and 56 all converge, head northwest on Route 122 for about 4.3 miles.
  • Turn left onto Pleasantdale Road.
  • Go 0.5 mile then turn right onto the gravel East Hill Road.
  • After 0.6 mile, park on the left in a small parking area.
  • For this hike, you want to follow the segment of Midstate Trail that starts on the side of the street opposite from the parking area.

Rail Trail Parking Lot on Route 122:
  • Although you don't need to drive to this parking lot for this hike, access information is provided in case you want to hike a shorter section of the trail. This lot is located in Rutland, Massachusetts.
  • From Paxton center where Routes 31, 122, and 56 all converge, head northwest on Route 122 for about 5.9 miles.
  • The obvious parking lot will be on the right.
  • If heading southeast on Route 122, travel about 8 miles from Barre's town square and look for the parking lot on the left.


Another parking area and a picnic area with restrooms is located at Barre Falls Dam, about a half mile below the upper parking area and just after the dam itself.

View from Barre Falls Dam (photo by Webmaster)

Midstate Trail logo (courtesy of Midstate Trail Committee)

  About Midstate Trail   

Midstate Trail map (courtesy of Midstate Trail Committee) The Midstate Trail is a 92-mile hiking trail traversing Massachusetts from Rhode Island to New Hampshire. It runs through Worcester County, 45 miles west of Boston. Although it is close to populated areas, it manages to wind through scenic and wild segments of the state, climbing gentle hills and mountains and encountering lakes, ponds, streams, meadows, and woods.

To the south, the trail connects with Rhode Island's North-South Trail which extends the hiking possibilities 75 miles all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. And to the north, it connects to the Wapack Trail in New Hampshire which covers an additional 21 miles and ends at North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield.

The Midstate Trail crosses the 2,006-foot peak of Wachusett Mountain which is the highest point on the route. On a clear day the Boston skyline is visible to the east, Mount Monadnock to the north, and the Berkshire Hills to the west.

Another notable peak is Mount Watatic which reaches 1,832 feet. This is the last undeveloped mountain in the state east of the Connecticut River. The peak provides views in all directions including Boston, central and western Massachusetts, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the mountains of southern New Hampshire. Both Watatic and Wachusett are great spots to watch hawk migrations.

Mount Hunger offers gorgeous 360-degree views of surrounding lakes, ponds, hills and ridges. And the Crow Hill ledges in Leominster State Park provide great outlooks to Crow Hill Pond and Crocker Pond just below. The ledges themselves are a popular climbing spot.

Other interesting features along the route include Hodges Village Dam, Moose Hill, Sampson's Pebble (an enormous glacial erratic), Barre Falls Dam, historic Redemption Rock, and Muddy Pond (an attractive, remote, and undeveloped glacial pond). Abundant stone walls scattered through the woods are a reminder that the land was used as farmland back in the 1800's.

Along the way you will explore many forests and reserves including Douglas State Forest, Four Chimneys Wildlife Management Area, Spencer State Forest, Moose Hill Wildlife Management Area, Buck Hill Reserve, Oakham State Forest, Rutland State Park, Savage Hill Wildlife Management Area, Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, and Leominster State Forest.

The Midstate Trail is highly accessible and for the most part the hiking is easy with occasional steep and rugged sections. It is well blazed with yellow triangles. The route, as with any long-distance trail, follows roads for some (usually short) segments. The trail is also used for snowshoeing, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing. Several primitive lean-to's and campsites are available along the route; however, camping is prohibited in most areas.

The trail is maintained and managed by the Midstate Trail Committee under the guidance of the Worcester chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. An annual end-to-end hike takes place over the summer with a patch awarded to those who complete the entire length. See the Midstate Trail's website for the hiking schedule or to purchase the latest version of the Midstate Trail Guidebook.

The southern terminus of the Midstate Trail is located on the Rhode Island border in Douglas, Massachusetts in Douglas State Forest. The northern end is on the New Hampshire border on the Ashburnham/Ashby, Massachusetts town line just north of the summit of Mount Watatic.
  Midstate Trail overview map (courtesy of Midstate Trail Committee)

Midstate Trail between Barre and Princeton (photo by Webmaster)

Stone wall along the Midstate Trail (photo by Webmaster)
  More Midstate Trail Reports   

Crabapple trees near the memorial benches (photo by Webmaster)



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