By Rae Eastman
It’s not every day one discovers a lovely walk in the woods along a heavy grass path beside a rushing river at the foot of your very own street! But there it was—and is. At the end of Cole Avenue (off Route 2) is Arnold Street—a heavily residential street on which the houses are so close together, a car can barely fit on driveways between them. At its end is the sign Town Recreational Area Nature Trail . Starting out on a short downhill path, there is a trail of sorts—a roughly-made one that appears endless. I learned later the area does have its own name—known as Linear Park, northern section.
The sound of the Green River rushing is good company and tempts walkers to go to it. If you do elect to go toward the sound of the river beckoning you, be sure you are wearing rubber boots—you sink easily into the marsh, which covered my rubber-soled shoes. But it is a lovely sight.
Then the walk broadens out into a grass-lined, roughly-cut path from which you can go at almost any point to the river’s edge for a look at its fast and noisy rushing. A little further on a clearer path appears, marked by a huge stone edifice (of unknown usage) beyond which the hiker will find a pebble beach on which to sit and watch the river go by—a slim river at that point. Or, perhaps on a sunny, warm day, you can walk on the pebbles in the river bed. Braver walkers might even cross the river at this shallow part, to sit on shaded benches on the other side. Warning: there are mosquitoes!
This is a quiet, almost private part of the walk. Over the several times I’ve taken it, I saw only three people total. I never went to the end, which appears to link with other trails until one is virtually on Route 2. If you continue on this path, you do indeed end up looking at cars rushing by.
This path was part of a huge plan to join walking areas across town, proposed by TRAIPSE (Trail Routing and Integration of Populated and Scenic Environments), a Williams College group who put out a report issued in the fall of 2002 for the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation (WRLF). I would have known nothing about this had I not been seated, at a recent tea party, next to Judy Fitzgerald who explained that since the early 70’s, she and others had pushed for this walk to be developed out of the garbage-strewn wilderness that had then existed, persuading town officials that the many families who were moving to Williamstown at the time needed outdoor spaces like that one where their families might walk and play. Town officials agreed and the progress of such a plan is outlined in the TRAIPSE document, which reports the improvements made up to then, the conditions of the area at the time, and tentative plans for the future. It is suggested that there would be a subsequent report but I was unable to find one. I did learn that WRLF is planning to develop the informal trail further.