A quick trip to the top of Mt Wachusett from the visitor center and a slightly more relaxed amble down.
I do this one for when I need to get some exercise and don't have a lot of time.
Park at the visitor center, make a pitstop inside if you need one! Excellent maps available here. Head out of the parking lot across the wooden bridge and hike up to where the Pine Hill Trail heads uphill and the Bicentennial trail heads off to the left. Here's the cardio part of the hike - up the Pine Hill Trail. Much improved thanks to the wonderful trail work that has been done to turn an old dirt slide into a very effective rock pathway. Remember to stop and drink often, and while you are catching your breath, turn around and see if you can spot the view towards Boston yet. When you get to the road the trail picks up again on the other side - follow the footsteps. As you come up by the picnic tables you can folow the road to the summit, or wander around the pond.
When you are in really good shape you can make it from the parking lot to the summit in about 20 minutes. Keep in mind it's often windy up top, so bring at least a shell to keep yourself from getting cooled down too much.
On a clear day you can see the Boston skyline, Mount Monadnock in NH and Mt Watatic. Depending on the time of year you may encounter lots of people on top with binoculars and telescopes - they are usually tracking the hawk migration.
Once you've ready to head down, find the Mountain House Trail heading down from the lower level parking lot on the end by the road. This will take you across the road again and over a stone wall on the other side. A few big steps here. Then wander down Mountain House past the Link and Jack Frost trails on the right to the Loop trail on the left. Follow Loop Trail until it merges with the Bicentennial trail and then shortly you should recognize the intersection where you went up Pine Hill, as you are getting close to the bottom. There is a great view off to the right in one of the rocky spots.
Rt 140 to Mountain Road (you will see signs for Wachusett Ski Area). Go past the ski area, and just as you reach the top of the hill the Visitor Center, run by dcr, is on the right. If you are not going to get back until after sunset, park outside the gate.
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