While Wachusett Mountain may be best known for its winter skiing, there is plenty of hiking fun to be found in the summer! What a delightful hike! At just over an hour from Boston, it makes a lovely day trip for people living in Greater Boston.
Note that if you are traveling to Boston, there are much more important sights to see, but if you are looking to see more of Massachusetts and escape the city, history, etc., this could make a nice excursion.
Located near the town of Princeton, MA, Wachusett Mountain is a ski resort in the winter, and a hiking paradise in the summer. There are many parking lots, but we chose to park in the main lot near the Base Lodge. Depending on which trails you want to hike, this may or may not be the right lot for you.
We chose to hike from the base ski lodge (closed for the summer) along the Balance Rock Trail. Once we reached the Old Indian Trail, we took that path to the Summit. From there, we could have returned the way we came, but instead decided to turn it into a loop by climbing down on the very steep Harrington Trail, then take the relatively flat Semuhenna Trail back to the Old Indian Trail.
The All Trails App/Website has a good map that starts at a slightly different parking lot, but is mostly the same hike. Wachusett Mountain also has an official trail map that you can usually pick up from the parking lot as well.
If you choose to do this loop consider whether you prefer to go up or down some very steep, and potentially slippery, rocks and make sure you choose the appropriate direction to start your loop. While the Old Indian Trail will have some reasonably steep sections (see the photo above), it is spread over a longer distance and is more manageable. The Harrington Trail is shorter, but significantly steeper.
Balance Rock Trail
From the main parking lot by the ski lodge, we took a few minutes to find the correct direction on Balance Rock Trail. The map makes it look like you may want to go right, but when facing the trail head, you actually want to head left. If the trail looks like really wide road (pictured below) you are going the wrong way.
If you are on the correct path, the trail will get a narrower and rockier quite quickly.
Eventually, you will come to Balance Rock!
Old Indian Trail
Pay attention to signage, and when you come to the Old Indian Trail, continue up the mountain on that path.
As you continue down the trail, you will cross a few of the ski runs!
Eventually, you will come to the intersection of the Old Indian Trail and the Semuhenna Trail.
If you want a slow and steady climb with some mildly slippery rocks, stay on the Old Indian Trail. If you want a fairly flat climb, followed by a very steep climb up some slippery rocks, choose the Semuhenna trail.
Up the Old Indian TraiL
We chose to continue along the Old Indian Trail. The scenery on this hike is quite lovely and is one of my new favorites! I definitely need to explore more New England hiking trails!
The Wachusett Mountain Summit
Just when we thought we may have made a wrong turn, the path became quite steep and it looked like we were getting close to the summit. The boys tried to convince us that climbing up this rock was great fun, but Jeremy and I chose to take a slightly more “boring” path around.
At the top, we wandered around a bit and got a few pictures, but it was quite foggy and the views were mostly non-existent. Note how mountain heights are shorter in the Northeast than on the West Coast.
James was excited to note which direction held the Boston Logan Control Tower, but there was no chance of seeing it on this particular day.
The Harrington Trail
At this point, we debated going back down the mountain the way we came, or trying the Harrington Trail. The ground was still wet from rain the night before, and there was rain promised for later in the day, so we were a little worried about how slippery the rocks would be. Fortunately, we all had good hiking boots on, so we decided to just do it! Fun!
We scrambled down the mountain like mountain goats!
The Semuhenna Trail
A short while later, we met up with the Semuhenna Trail and that was the end of our rock climbing adventure. Again, we were able to enjoy the peaceful beauty of the trail!
Back to the Car
Eventually we made it back to Old Indian Trail, the Balance Rock Trail, and back to the parking lot.
What a nice hike! If you are ever in the Boston area, have a car, and want to get out of the city, consider visiting Wachusett Mountain!
Keep reading our travel blog for more places to hike.
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