Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A loop around Groton and revisit to Haystack

The weather seems to be a bit more bearable recently. Quite pleasant, actually. Too bad we had to wait the whole summer until its end to enjoy it, but at least we weren't flooded (Louisiana) or burnt (California). Just experienced extreme drought, heat and humidity.

Anyway, last weekend I decided to explore area around Groton, MA a bit more and revisit some old places, such as the MIT Haystack Observatory.

A convenient place to start is the Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle, which is a place on its own worth visiting, but that's another story. From there, I made my way towards Westford, eventually reaching Haystack. Once again, I ignored the main gate and climbed uphill to the Death Star Superlaser installation, I mean... the Millstone Hill Radar.
From there, it's just a short ride to the main Haystack Radio Telescope and Observatory. Unlike my last visit to this place, this time it was actually quite enjoyable - cooler and cloudy, despite very humid morning.
Except seeing the giant inflatable golf ball, there isn't much you could do up there and I promptly rolled back downhill to find the hidden and gated access to Hoyt St. From there, I decided to loop around Groton a bit and take Dan Parker Rd through the forested area (Harrison Ripley Forest) north of town. Now, Dan Parker Rd is not a road actually. More like a hidden forest trail that sometimes looks like a fire road that you can ride somewhat comfortably on a bit wider road tires,
and in some places looking like a pretty rough MTB trail that will make you wish you were on your mountain bike.
There is pretty much a bit of everything on Dan Parker Rd - smooth hardpack, grassy spots, sharp and rocky sections and sandy patches.

The road ends at a clear cut in the forest just under the high voltage power lines. From there I turned south towards the center of Groton. Should you get hungry for lunch, stop at Salt & Light Cafe Bistro on Main Street.

I followed Rt 225 back to Carlisle and unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any better, alternative way of reaching Great Brook Farm State Park from Groton. I wish I could stick to some local dirt roads instead one of the main routes in the area, but they are sadly non-existent. It also seems like the best way to cross I-495. Once in Carlisle, I followed Curve St, passing by the Cranberry Bog, eventually getting back to my car.
It's a quick 60km (37mi) ride that would take you over local roads mostly, avoiding most of car traffic. The rougher gravel sections are best accessible on wider tires. Thinking more about it, something like my Clement X'Plor USH 35mm tires seems perfect for this kind of riding. They are plenty fast on pavement and roll very nicely off-road. If you can fit anything this wide on your road bike, I recommend giving it a try. It opens new possibilities and many new roads for you.

1 comment:

  1. Did you do the offering section between Indian Hill and 225? I've looked at it on maps but never tried it.