By Dan Brosgol
Editor’s note: A summer runners’ update: A sun-dappled run along the Reformatory Branch Trail; discovering the Harvard Field Station; and a surprise connector.
Gimme Shelter (from the sun)
It was 94 degrees in Bedford on Friday, which meant, among other things, that any run during daylight hours for me would have to take place under the cover of arbor.
Luckily, as all of the runners (and readers) out there know, there are a multiplicity of options for trail runners in Bedford seeking relief from the crushing heat and humidity of mid-July, so I headed boldly went where I had never gone before. Sort of . . .
Running west on the Reformatory Branch Trail from the Depot, I covered a flat and shady 1.1 miles to Hartwell Road, and then a few minutes afterwards cut a left into the Mary Putnam Webber Wildlife Preserve and the Vanderhoof Conservation Area (click here for the trail map). I’d rambled my way over some of this terrain for the first time last summer, but had been stopped by some flooded wetland and then had to backtrack my way onto the end of Lavender Lane.
This time, however, I followed a fairly wide road-like path for at least half a mile that appeared not to be officially a part of the trail map, and met up with the Massport/Hanscom trail right near the airport fence. That trail wound through a lovely wooded area for a while, with tall pine trees, level ground, and the occasional roar of airplane engines and whirring of helicopter rotors overhead.
After a short climb, the trail led into a spectacular clearing in a large meadow marked by a dramatic boulder and rock wall, and two paths that headed off in opposite directions—to the left, a path that led west and south towards Virginia Road in Concord, and to the right, a path that I (correctly) assumed would get me back to Concord Road just shy of the town line. I headed to the right, two minutes later exited the trail network onto 62 East, and 20 minutes after that was back at the Depot after heading in on the Reformatory Branch Trail from its intersection with Rte. 62. All told the run clocked in at 5.1 miles, and with the Virginia Road add-on would probably have been closer to 7.5. . .but I’ll do that one on a cooler day.
Emus and Pygmy Goats and Nike Missiles, Oh My
I recently uncovered another hidden corner of Bedford that most people don’t know about—the Concord Field Station, a Harvard University research site tucked away at the end of Old Causeway Road. It’s an animal research facility where they do things like put Emu chicks on treadmills (!!!) and study African pygmy goats; and back in the 1940s it was also a Nike missile site. Anyway, just before the gate to the station is a trailhead for the path that continues up to Huckins Farm and Two Brothers Rocks. One day soon I will do the run from Davis School up to Two Brothers Rocks, which can traverse as many as eight different trails and conservation areas (Little Meadow, Clark, Pine Grove, Langone, Carlson, Brown/Page, Peppergrass, and Altmann) over just a few miles. But the Field Station is pretty unusual, and perhaps a little eerie. One of my sons said it “felt like Jurassic Park” when we did a little loop through the complex. Take a peek.
Short and Sweet
For those of you familiar with both the Danny Oates 5K route and the occasionally-confusing road network in that part of town, there is a little connector path between Norma Road and Battle Flagg Road that I came across a few weeks ago that I had no idea even existed.
Don’t get too excited—it’s only a few hundred feet long—but it’s a fun one.
Enjoy. . .