Mendon Hike Challenge, a fun way to explore town trails
Elijah and Doug Weeks walking on a trail as part of the Mendon Hike Challenge that runs through May 2024. Photo by Liz Weeks
By Linda Chuss "A feeling of remoteness away from the hustle and bustle of civilization is felt on these peaceful trails." That comment, reported by one participant in the Mendon Hike Challenge, captures a key aspect of why the program was introduced. Anne Mazar, chair of Mendon’s Land Use Committee, said, “This is a fun way to get people on the beautiful trails to appreciate the woods and wildlife in Mendon. The town has been working for over 20 years to conserve key open space parcels of land. We have also been working with many volunteers to put in trails, including the Scouts, Bay State Trail Riders Association, Blackstone Valley Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, and The Trustees of Reservations.” Participating in the challenge is easy and free. Register by completing a form, either online or in person, and review the information packet. Reference the online maps or printed versions. Walk a trail and fill out a log sheet entry for it. After completing all trails, write a summary about a favorite hike and submit it. Expect to receive a Mendon Hike Challenge patch or sticker to mark the accomplishment. There are nine trails in the challenge and the typical walking time to complete them all is about 16 hours. The challenge ends in May 2024, so starting in August means the challenge could be finished in May by walking an average of one trail, or about two hours, per month. “To date, over 70 people have registered and 13 have completed all nine trails,” according to Parks and Recreation Department Director Dan Byer. Assisting the Parks and Recreation and Land Use groups to create the challenge were Bill Dakai, Liz and Doug Weeks, Ticia Low, and Kurt LaButti. “It’s been a big hit,” said Liz Weeks, who shared some feedback from the hikers. One participant said, “The paths were extremely well marked so you didn't really have to use the map ... what a beautiful area to explore." Another summarized their favorite, the Asylum Street East Trail, with “Every trail was beautiful and unique in its own way, but Hike 2 brought it all for me … the diverse terrain, varied elevations, wildlife, vegetation, view sights, smells … it reminded me of the reasons I love to walk in the woods so much." To participate in the challenge, sign up at mendonma.gov/hike-challenge or in person at the Town Clerk’s office, 20 Main Street.