Western MA Wanderings | The Emily Dickinson Trail

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Perhaps one of my favorite things about Hampshire County is the great literary history you can find throughout the area: and the Amherst Literary Trails, which stretch from Sunderland to South Hadley, make it easy for writerly types to escape into nature for some inspiration. Though my adventures at Wentworth Farm and other conservation areas nearby sometimes intersected with the Robert Frost Trail, yesterday I set off on a new journey that took me on a path named after one of my other American poetry idols…

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Though this trail may be dedicated to Emily, I couldn’t help but think of Robert Frost while passing through: because man, these woods are indeed lovely, dark and deep. You can enter this stretch of the Dickinson Trail at Groff Park, a well-maintained community space with picnic tables, swingsets galore, and even a sandbox–all luxuries that would have immediately won over my five-year-old self. A drive to Groff takes you past some community gardens, tucked away in a field near a road that’s just bumpy enough to feel exciting.

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There are few plants in the world that I love so much as ferns: they remind me of home, where the great hapu’u (tree ferns) tower over the landscape, while tiny uluhe cluster together to form living forest bridges and walls. Mainland ferns are ground-dwellers, it seems, but their dense clusters still look wild and magical in the darkest parts of the woods.

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The trail, as you can see, is not without its perils! I took great delight, of course, in carefully crossing each of the makeshift bridges (in the dorky pink sneakers that comprise my only current “hiking-ish” footwear) placed over dips in the land. We were walking alongside a creek, so it’s not surprising that the ground occasionally gave way to little rivulets. The charmingly named “Snake Point” reminds visitors of another potential inhabitant of the woods–although if there were any slithering friends at large on the trail yesterday morning, they kept to themselves.

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And, of course, I couldn’t resist a silly shot with my new Kanken mini! As I hoped, it served me very well on this little walk, and should prove a good companion for trail adventures to come–literary or otherwise.

2 thoughts on “Western MA Wanderings | The Emily Dickinson Trail

    • I know! Tree ferns back home in Hawai’i can grow to 25 feet tall sometimes…and yet at the same time, you can find little ferns of other varieties growing up in the smallest of places. They’re the best 🙂

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