The New England National Scenic Trail: Overnight Shelters and Solar-Powered Rocks

The New England National Scenic Trail (NET) runs for 215 miles through southern New England, from Long Island Sound in Connecticut to the New Hampshire border in north-central Massachusetts.

The route offers many excellent day-hiking opportunities in all seasons, though options are currently more limited for those interested in an overnight backpacking experience. For an overnighter along the NET, your best bet is the northernmost section of the trail in north-central Massachusetts (the NET follows the route of the Metcomet-Monadnock Trail, or M-M Trail, throughout Massachusetts). Three backcountry shelters are currently available for overnight use in this area.

Photo Courtesy of AMC Berkshire Chapter

The first is in Wendell State Forest , where a small Adirondack shelter (right) is available for trail users. (Though its exact location is not indicated on the Wendell State Forest trail, it definitely exists.)

The next is a brand new shelter (an enclosed cabin actually) located 12 miles farther north on the trail in Northfield, which just opened this past summer thanks to the generosity of long-time AMC members and trail volunteers Sam and Barbara Richardson.

The third is six miles further north in Royalston Falls Reservation, less than a mile from the NH/MA border and end of the NET. The shelter is actually located on a short section of overlap between the Tully Trail and M-M Trail.

For detailed trail information and descriptions for this area, the most definitive source is the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail Guide ($10), now in its 10th edition and published by AMC's Berkshire Chapter. For a more general overview, you can also check out the chapter's online trail guide.

If, on the other hand, you are more interested in discovering three solar-powered glowing blue rocks along the NET, each with an inscription from Emily Dickinson's poem, "The Mountains Stood in Haze," then you should head to Taylor Notch in Skinner State Park to search for the Hespera Stones.

For me personally, I've seen hundreds of trail shelters, but I've never seen a rock like a Hespera Stones and am delightfully intrigued by the artistic concept. For more, check out this video:

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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