Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grateful Letterbox: Uncle Sam

The "Grateful Letterbox" series of boxes are so named to bring attention to a group formed by The Merry Pranksters and zess the treehuggers. Although inspired by a love of Grateful Dead music, the only admission criterion is that you must be grateful for something in your life. Check it out the Grateful Letterboxers group on Atlas Quest!

** Stamp carved by The Merry Pranksters**

Uncle Sam

Mt. Pisgah Conservation Area
Trailhead is across the road from 19 Smith Street, Northborough.

Mt. Pisgah is one of the largest conservation lands in the state, spreading across the towns of Northborough, Berlin, Boylston, & Bolton. The Smith Street trailhead provides access to the trails of Northborough, Berlin, and the MassWildlife property. Northborough & Mass Wildlife trails are maintained by the Northborough Trails Committee, and are exceptionally well-marked. The Berlin trails are mostly not blazed, and so are more complicated to navigate, but beautiful. This hike is entirely in Northborough (with one optional hop into Berlin).

Visit the Northborough Trails Committee website to download a trail map & information sheet on Mt. Pisgah (highly recommended; great map, interesting info).


1) From Route 9 in Westborough
a. Exit Rt. 135 West toward Northborough
b. Pass Ellsworth-McAfee Park
c. Continue 1 mile to dead-end at Route 20
d. Left onto Rt. 20
e. Quick right, just past CVS, onto Church Street
f. Stay Left at the Y
g. Continue on Church St, 2 miles, until you see the I-290 interchange.
h. Just PASSED interchange, at Davidians Farm Stand, Right onto Ball Hill
i. Follow for 1.7 miles to deadend at Green Street
j. Left on Green Street for 0.4 miles
k. Right on Smith Road
l. In 0.3 miles, trailhead is on Right side of road

2) From Route 290
a. Take Exit 24, Church Street toward Boylston (North)
b. Follow directions from (h) above

From the Smith Road trailhead, start on the Mentzer Trail (yellow blazes).
At the trail junction, turn onto the Sparrow Trail (red blazes).
Cross over the Berlin Road Trail (blue blazes) and continue on the Sparrow Trail.
At the next trail junction, turn right onto the Tyler Trail (also red blazes).
Follow Tyler Trail, staying to the left when it meets another trail, to the South View.
Take in the view, grab the letterbox, and take it back to the viewpoint to stamp in.

To grab the letterbox:

Find the Sparrow Trail entrance just back, and north, from the viewpoint.
The trail sign has a red blaze (triangle) on it. This is blaze #1
Proceed down the trail to blaze #3
Look to the right of the trail, at about 2:00, and notice a tree that was caught in mid-fall by another tree.
At the base of the supporting tree, just behind it (East), are two rocks, one of which sticks up and looks like an arrowhead. That’s where the box is.
Keep your eyes out to be sure you are not seen as you go to retrieve the box.
Now that you’ve spotted the location, and know where you are going, find the most gentle (on the vegetation) path, stepping softly, until you reach the rocks.
The letterbox is on the back (east/downhill) side of the rocks, tucked between them, under two loose rocks.
Take the box back to the South View, so as not to draw attention to it’s hiding spot.

Please be discreet while stamping, as this is a popular spot along these trails.
Return the box, again being careful of vegetation & passersby, and re-hide carefully placing the rocks just as you found them, so that the box is not visible.

Quickest way back to your car: Backtrack the way you came in.

Recommended way back to your car:
Continue down Sparrow Trail
Be sure to follow the red blazes when they head to the left at a Y. (The right side has blue tree-paint blazes, I think.)
As you continue on the Sparrow Trail, you will see a stone wall.
Just past this stone wall is an intersection with the Summit Trail.
At this junction, notice the cairn of large rocks. There is a Geodetic survey benchmark here marking the highest point in Northborough.
Continue on Sparrow Trail (red)
Turn Right at the yellow blazes onto the Mentzer Trail.
Follow stone wall to map board, go through wall, and follow yellow blazes to the
North View. The view is more obstructed here than the South View, but on a clear day you have a straight-on view of Boston’s Prudential Building and Hancock Tower.
Return to the stone wall, turn right, and follow the Mentzer Trail straight down the mountain, passing over the Berlin Road trail, until you reach the parking area.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

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