Member Trip report

Tully Trail Snowshoe (Royalston, MA)


Trip Report/Photos from shep5

Featured Photo

With all the snow that we received during the week, Robert (Robert.L) and I were eager to get out and do something.  As more snow was on the way for Saturday morning (February 11th), we opted for something within a fairly reasonable distance.  We chose the Tully Trail in the Royalston Reservation (Robert had never been there).  We originally were going to meet up at the Royalston Falls Trailhead on Route 32, but as I passed this in the morning, the lot had not been plowed out at all.  As I was a little early, I continued down the road to the intersection with Doane Hill Road.  I waited here to meet up with Robert.  With the slick roads, he was running about 5-10 minutes late and it wasn't long before we met up.  We continued down to Tully Lake and parked in small area for the Doane Falls.

We quickly got ready and it was obvious from the start that we were going to need our snowshoes.  The trail was completely unbroken out to Doane Falls.  It was just about 8:30AM when we started out.  It was overcast, but it was a fairly mild day, starting out in the mid-20's.  The snow was deep as the area had gotten about 15 inches of snow a couple of days earlier (along with the 2-3 inches overnight).  It was a chore to trudge through the snow, but it was a fairly short distance to the falls.  We reached the upper bank of the Lawrence Brook in about 10 minutes.  There was a steep descent down the bank to the water and we made our way down to get a better view of the falls.  It was running swiftly with quite a bit of dirtly-looking ice surrounding it.  After re-climbing the bank to the trail, we continued east up the hill to see the other two major cascades of the falls.  After checking out the upper section, we re-traced our steps back to our car.

It was a little after 9, where we started up the Tully Trail.  This section of the trail had been packed down from what appeared to be a snowmobile.  This section followed the connecting river between Tully Lake and Long Pond and was mostly flat all the way out.  We reached the shores of Long Pong at about 9:40 and it wasn't long after this point that we made it to the trail junction where the Tully Trail and the Bike Trail diverged.  We continued along the Tully Trail, which almost immediately began an fairly aggressive ascent up to Spirit Falls.  A couple of people had done this the day before, as there were fresh tracks up the hill.  Unfortunately along the way, the falls were completely buried by the snow and ice...although we could hear the water rushing underneath.  We continued to climb and reached the junction for a side trail out to an overlook.  We took this and after a concerted effort through unbroken snow, we reached the ledge view at 10:30.  It provided a nice view southward towards Tully Lake and over Long Pond and Tully Mountain to the west.  We took a break here before returning to the main trail.

We were back at the Tully Trail by just before 11AM and we continued northward.  Like with the spur trail this section was not broken out either.  The trail climbed modestly as it approches the top of Jacobs Hill (approximately 1150').  Near the top there was another spur trail (this time shorter), out to a wonderful view over the reservation and Long Pond below.  The clouds were lower by this point, but there were still decent views.  After a short break, we continued northward along the Tully Trail.  This descended towards Route 68 and around a couple of homes.  The trail then descended very steeply down along high-tension wires back down to the wetlands to the north of Long Pond.  We reached the the shore here by noon.  We continued out and finally took a lunch break along some open wetlands.  It was 12:30PM.  After lunch we continued heading north and reached a tote road which ran behind some newly constructed homes.  We turned onto this and followed this for awhile, hoping to reach an river outlook that I remembered.  Unfortunately, it was now 1PM and our agreed upon turn-around time, so we started back.  If we would have been able to spot cars at Royalston Falls this would have continued to that parking lot.  Since that wasn't possible, we re-traced our tracks back to our cars at Tully Lake.  Despite the relatively steep hike back up Jacobs Hill, our pace was quicker having already broken out the trail and we made it back to our cars again by 3:30PM.

Afterwards, we got ourselves packed up and headed to Pete and Henry's in Royalston for a light meal before calling it a day.

This was my first time hiking the Tully Trail in the winter and it was still wonderful.  Despite the fact that there wasn't a huge amount of elevation, this property is one of Massachesetts' gems and I'm always surprised, that it gets so little use.  I was also kinda amazed that the northern trailhead at Royalston Falls hadn't been cleared out for the weekend.  It would have been nice to see that spectacular falls in the snow and ice.  Still we had a great day out...certainly a truly fantastic snowshoe hike...something that we haven't had in a couple of years!

Total distance and elevation gain:  Approximtely 8.5 - 9.0 miles with about 1000 feet in cumulative gain.

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