Bolton to the top

Posted by & filed under the hiking diaries.

Episode 2 of The Hiking Diaries

oldindiantrail (20)

Today was a do-over of my first attempt to hike Bolton Pond Trail. But, because I took a vacation this week, I had more time and decided to go to the top. Took me about 2 1/2 hours round trip, with lots of stops to take pictures and untwist the dogs.

Hiking with two dogs is a dance. You have to keep on your toes to 1. not be pulled off your toes – as in tripping on a root or landing on an unstable rock while the dogs are still walking like nothing happened and 2. so that the dogs don’t each go a different way around a tree or large rock in the middle of the path. And somehow, Columbus always gets the leash wrapped around his neck and Koda always gets it under her front leg. So there’s lots of undoing of that.

I don’t think it would probably take you that long to hike it. We also relaxed a bit at the top and went down to the fish pond to get them a quick drink. Dogs aren’t supposed to go in the pond for some reason – it would disturb the environment or something like that – so they don’t get to dunk in that one. But there were no running streams on the way up (next time I bring water for all of us) and so I let them have a quick drink.

PS to any dog lovers that think I shouldn’t let them drink from ponds and/or streams. They get a lepto vaccine each year, and even if I didn’t let them drink water on the mountain, they drink from puddles and other water in my yard.

Here’s the trail we took:


Bolton Pond trail to Balance Rock trail (for a very short time until it crosses Balance Rock Rd) to Old Indian Trail. The bulk of it, really, is Old Indian Trail, so the name of this post is a little misleading. So is the first picture. But most of the trails to the top involve hiking on multiple trails.

You know, at first I couldn’t see the part of Bolton Pond trail I missed last time. So odd, I don’t know what it is about that spot. But I found it, and our journey began.

Lots of roots and rocks, by the way. I think that’s the bulk of hiking Wachusett. More just rocks nearer the top, but at the bottom there are lots of exposed roots, too. I do a lot of my hiking looking down at my feet.

Interestingly, the other day at Best Buy I looked at an Olloclip, an attachment that allows you to take wide angle, fish-eye views, and closeups with your mobile phone. It’s so bulky to carry my nicer camera. But today I realized that my better camera was needed (didn’t have it). There were a lot of mixed shadows and light and the pictures didn’t really come out all that well. But I’m including some (not as many as I had intended).

One of the first thing I noticed was a curved, dead tree, still standing. The picture didn’t come out well. But soon after that there was a huge tree. I tried to convey its hugeness by making the dogs sit in front of it, but I really couldn’t. Here’s my attempt….

oldindiantrail-big tree

Believe me, it was a BIG, old tree. Love to find trees this big!

I also found a lot of this yellow mushroom while we were still on the moist part of the trail.

oldindiantrail - mushrooms

They were on rocks and logs. I don’t know my mushrooms and I haven’t looked them up yet. I shall call them Mustard Mushrooms. (I like this naming things new to me with my own names!)

Here’s another mystery thing I found. I found one of these the other day, too. Before then and now, I’d never noticed them on the trail. No clue what their purpose is.

oldindiantrail - marker

I shall call this “yellow marker.” The other one was white.


The beauty that is Bolton Pond trail eventually ends at balance rock. Balance Rock is not your ordinary rock. You don’t see things like this every day. (Unless you hike this trail every day.)

balance rock

As you can see, Columbus was intrigued. Probably wondering how it got up there. Like you were, right? Sometimes there is something rumbling around in that noggin of his.

There is another cool rock formation a little further along.

split rock

It doesn’t have a name, but I think it should be called Split Rock, don’t you? It’s fairly big. I should have put the dogs in front of it to give some perspective.

Balance Rock trail ends at Balance Rock Road. And turns into Old Indian trail at that point. Loved what someone did to the sign as I looked back down the trail. (That’s the picture at the top of the post.) On the way back, someone else had stuck their trail map on it, too.

Now, on to Old Indian Trail! Okay dogs?

oldindiantrail (21)

Once on Old Indian trail, you follow the yellow markers.

oldindiantrail (6)

On this tree, they were combined to make an arrow:

oldindiantrail (7)

That made me smile.

Sometimes the markers were also on rocks:

oldindiantrail (9)

I even found this, engraved into a rock:


It’s hard to see, and I missed it on the way up, but “Old Indian Trail,” along with the double-pointing arrow, are chiseled into this rock. Wonder when that was done. And how. (This is nearer the top, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.)

At some point we cross Semuhenna Trail. That trail never makes it to the top of the mountain, as I found out one day mistakenly thinking it did (didn’t have the map with me) and walked around the mountain.

oldindiantrail (22)

My favorite part about Old Indian trail is that it crosses the ski trails. Four of them, to be exact. Only the lighting was very difficult, so this is the only shot I’m posting.

oldindiantrail (10)

And eventually you get to the road.

oldindiantrail (11)

At that point, you go left and the trail picks up again. Only it’s in the shadows in this picture.

Coming back, it’s easier. There is a sign almost directly across, blocking off another path that looks like a trail, pointing you further down the road.

oldindiantrail (12)

That’s the view from standing at the entrance to Old Indian trail across the road from the first picture with the dogs. If you look closely, following the road down from this blocking sign, you can see the trailhead sign all the way on the left edge of the picture.

And…in case all of this is confusing, they give you another chance to take a map. (That’s the green thing on the post.)

oldindiantrail (13)

Take a look at this sign, a little further along. It seems like people like to mess with the signs.

oldindiantrail (14)

Kind of colorful, though.

Up until we hit the intersection of West Side trail (a very steep trail), I would have said that Old Indian trail was a nice, gentle, uphill climb, mixed flat and sloped.

That all changed.

oldindiantrail (15)

It’s really hard to give you the perspective, but let’s just say I had to push/pull a couple of (big) dogs over those rocks when their paws couldn’t grab any footing.


Since I don’t ski, this is the only time I get to see this part of the mountain.

oldindiantrail (16) oldindiantrail (17)

The rock stairs to the right of the sign are the way up to the top.

oldindiantrail (18)

We made it. I think it’s not just the lighting that made these shots come out so lousy. I think it’s also the dogs pulling on the leashes and me worn out from the climb. Haha.

There were bird watchers with big – I mean BIG – cameras parked out in the watch tower. Fun.

Since the thieves – whoever they may be – stole the East West North South brass (?) marker on the top of the mountain, someone replaced it with this.

oldindiantrail (19)

Not as pretty, but it does the trick. Still bums me out that the other marker got stolen. It doesn’t go along with the feel of the mountain nor the people that hike it.

And then, after trying to take pictures of Boston and Mt Monadnock and giving the dogs a quick drink at the fish pond, we turned around and walked back down.

It was a great hike. And a great day to be alive.



One Response to “Bolton to the top”