Though its trails are well-maintained and clearly-marked, the difficulty in hiking Mount Watatic comes from its elevation gain; for a relatively small peak, the 3.0-mile loop hike will get your heart pumping.
Time To Complete
30 minutes - 2 hours.
Summer visits to Watatic boast alpine fields of wild blueberries and a 360-degree vista of rolling green hills. Watatic is an obvious destination to admire New England's Fall foliage, and the wide trails are perfect for snowshoeing when they're freshly blanketed in snow during the Winter. A singular complaint is that there is often minor trail flooding and slippery rocks during the Spring and after a storm.
Standing 1,832 feet tall in the Wapack Mountain Range, Ashburnham's Mount Watatic was once a ski-area but is now protected land used for hiking, trail running, and bird watching. Its trails intersect with the both the Midstate and the Wapack trails, which allows ambitious visitors to hike a longer point-to-point route outside Mount Watatic Reservation's 3.0 miles of trails.
A proposal to construct a cell tower and telecommunications facility atop Mount Watatic prompted the community outcry that led to the area's formal purchase and protection in 2002. Thanks to a massive $900,000 local fundraising push, the Ashby Land Trust, the Town of Ashby, the Ashburnham Conservation Trust and the Town of Ashburnham jointly own the 281 acres of Mount Watatic Reservation with the state of Massachusetts.
What Makes It Great
Missing from many Boston hiking destinations are challenging trails with a view that really pays off—and that's where Mount Watatic comes in.
If you're a serious hiker in the North East, you've got your eyes on The Whites; but for Boston residents, that's a 3+ hour drive, and a 6-hour roundtrip, which isn't feasible for those who have only an afternoon free.
An hour and a half from downtown Boston, Mount Watatic's has all the features you envision when climbing a mountain. Its 2.9-mile loop takes hikers by marshlands, forests, a boulder, a false summit and, in the summer, alpine fields of wild blueberries, all of which precedes Watatic's true peak: two bald summits that look out onto the verdant rolling hills of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. On a clear day, you'll spot Mt. Wachusett and Mt. Monadnock in the distance.
Mount Watatic is the first summit along the Wapack Trail, a skyline ridge trail that runs through the Wapack Mountains to North Pack Monadnock in New Hampshire. Hikers who want to extend their trek considerably can continue along the 92-mile Midstate Trail or the 21-mile Wapack Trail.
Who is Going to Love It
Mount Watatic's short, well-marked, and well-maintained trails make it a great destination for hikers just getting back on the trail, hikers new to the sport, or hikers looking for a quick workout. Taking Wapack Trail means a more strenuous climb and a quicker route to the summit. If you're preparing for a lengthy expedition, the incline along Wapack Trail will serve you well when used in interval training.
Families spending a day exploring the outdoors will enjoy Mount Watatic, too. For certain holidays and occasions, the Reservation will even host fun kids' activities. One Easter, for example, a the Reservation hid a dozen small gifts along the trail, and posted riddles that veiled their whereabouts at the trailhead.
While Mount Watatic is a great destination for families and beginners, visitors will want to wear trail running or at least well-treaded athletic shoes. You'll appreciate the extra traction when stepping from rock to rock.
To add to this, the terrain at Mount Monadnock will seem a little rough compared to many hiking destinations closer to Boston. It's rockier than, say, Blue Hills Reservation, but about on par with Mount Wachusett. If you prefer easy footing, opt for the State Line Trail to Watatic's summit rather than Wapack Trail; it's a more gradual climb with fewer rocks after the first 0.3 miles.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are a couple routes to get to Mount Watatic from downtown Boston, but the easiest is to take I-93 N to I-95 S and US-3 to MA-40 W, then take Exit 33 from US-3 N. This route will take you to the trailhead, which is off MA-119 W. Parking at the Mount Watatic trailhead is free. When the lot has reached its capacity, which happens often on summer Saturdays, cars can park along the road a short walk from the trailhead.
Unfortunately, public transit options to get to Mount Watatic are nonexistent--unless you count the 14 hour and 37 minute trip by walking, taking 3 different buses, a rail train, and a car. Talk about planes, trains, and automobiles. So, for this one, you'll need a car.
Dogs are permitted on Watatic, but they must be leashed and under control. There are no trashcans on the trails, so be sure to bring a baggie or two to carry out your waste.
Mountain biking is neither allowed on these trails nor would it be enjoyed; for the most part, Mount Watatic's terrain is large rocks.