Takin’ Marlborough to School
Elmer Thienes – Mary Hall Elementary School Trails, Marlborough
Ah, CTMQ. My muse. My love. How you drive me crazy with your ridiculous goals. How I was this close to “completing” Marlborough five months before hiking this surprising little trail network behind the town’s elementary school, but just never did for a ton of different reasons.
The weather was terrible. Someone was sick. We bought a new house and had to move and then sell our house. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Work. I know, I know, NONE OF THESE THINGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIKING THE FINAL TRAIL I HAD LEFT TO HIKE IN MARLBOROUGH… I hang my head in shame.
And so, here we are. February 2020, in Marlborough for one last time – until some new trail or museum or winery opens up anyway. The elementary school is very near the route 66 exit off of route 2, which is somewhat odd because these woods feel really secluded.
There’s a nice sign at the trailhead and while I didn’t have a map of the trails, I wasn’t too concerned. I simply couldn’t imagine that the property was very large; right next to route 66 and behind an elementary school and all.
I suppose I should have consulted my Marlborough town open space map, because while I’m sure the kids from the school just walk the trails nearest the parking lot, other trails continue quite a ways south. Which, for my purposes, is pretty exciting. But first things first – the purposeful elementary school trails.
I started straight out of the back of the parking lot, paralleling 66. I had some trail choices, but they all led south, so that’s were I went. Initially, there was nothing interesting or unique about my path, but then I swung left, across a bridge, back towards the school.
Bridges are exciting, right? Right. More exciting were the numbered signs in the woods. Why? Because this tells me that Marlborough kids have a pretty cool natural resource out their gym’s backdoor and that someone puts in the time and effort to keep these trails cleared and walkable. And that there must be a trail guide explaining how trees propagate and what peat is and about forest succession and the importance of fungi, and… all that good stuff.
There are a couple of asphalt paths back here too, which I don’t really understand unless they are supposed to be accessible to those kids who use wheelchairs or walkers or something. I don’t know, but they’d need to put their offroad tires on for some stretches.
I wandered all over the place; taking this path and that. I followed one to a cul-de-sac. I followed another straight up a hill hoping for a view, only to find nothing. (My thought is that tough guy 5th graders hide out up here and say bad words to each other or whatever they do to be tough guys.)
At some point, heading south, all the signage disappeared but the trails continued. I figured this was where the school’s trails sort of ended and the town open space trails began. I continued south, through a nice stand of white pine and just as the trail started petering out, it connected with another, which I followed because it was clear that it would lead me back to the school.
Not just the school but an exciting little wetland marsh. There were 3 or 4 numbered signs here for the kids. So much to learn.
Up another trail north across another bridge, underneath some imposing cliffs, then along another trail which took me up on top of – and behind those cliffs. So I went to the top of the cliffs, again hoping for some magical Marlborough view, but…
Eh. The thought was there. Back north along the edge of the property straight out to route 66. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I figured there’d be some sort of side trail taking me back to the parking lot – which I could see through the denuded winter woods.
With my head down in thought; thinking of all there was to celebrate in Marlborough, out to route 66 and – wow! The trail took me to the very first thing in the town that I documented on CTMQ: Turtle Rock. Up close and personal!
Not only had I just walked the full circle of the elementary school trails, my 12-year journey exploring everything in the town has come to completion as well. And it feels good.
Marlborough’s elementary school trails are way cooler than your elementary school’s trails. I say that with the confidence of a true Marlborough Man.