My Favorite Walk: Route 20’s Hidden Gem

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Along scenic Route 20 in Chester, is the Chester-Blandford State Forest. On a 95-degree summer afternoon, the natural shade from the tall trees kept us cool as we walked the mile up to the Sanderson Brook Falls.

Walking along the path, we only saw a few small groups of people. All said hello when they passed and continued in the opposite direction. One woman had a small dog that I don’t think barked once. It was almost as if, as soon as you stepped foot inside this forest, something took a hold of you and you became calm.

Apart from my four-year-old who always has his mouth moving, the forest was serenely quiet. The tranquil sound of the brook on either side of us while we walked over the bridges was as loud as it got. The sound of the Earth crunching under our sneakers was our soundtrack. It seemed like we were all alone in this vast space, an almost eerie feeling.

I always tell my son when we go on nature walks to look for rocks and minerals that catch his eye. We found a lot of different colored mica. Back in the day, the hills of Chester were pitted with small mines producing mica. The glittery crumbs of the minerals were all over his clothes later that night.

We missed the path to the Falls. We took a quick break and pulled up the trusty GPS app on the phone and tried to reroute ourselves to the correct path. Walking back up the hill with our walking sticks and down the correct, but ridiculously narrow path, we found a little orange/red salamander hanging out on a tree stump. Naturally, we stopped so my son could have a quick conversation with him, and then we were on our way.

As we got closer to the Falls, we could hear them in the near distance. It also gets a little more dangerous. We carefully climbed over large, moss-covered rocks, knocked-over tree trunks, slimy huge mushrooms that looked like they belonged in a cartoon and then we were finally there.

Looking up to see what was in front of us was like looking at a painting. Every little crevice of the 60-foot cascade was filled with nature’s beauty. There were little pockets of water where we cleaned off our shoes and hands. We sat along the side of the rocks about 10 feet from the top of the falls for about 20 minutes. The freshness of the moist air was calming and cleansing.

On our way back down, we found a tree that fell over. It looked like it was placed perfectly for a natural seesaw. We tried it. Through bursts of laughter, my boyfriend and I went up and down as my son stood there holding his stomach from laughing too hard.

Checking the time, we realized we didn’t have much daylight left. We retraced our steps and got back on the path to head back to the car before nightfall.•

Jennifer Levesque

Author: Jennifer Levesque

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