Middlesex Fells: Rock Circuit
Middlesex Fells Rock Circuit is a moderate to hard 4 mile hike that includes an array of ascends and descends. This is part of the greater Middlesex Fells Reservation The trail runs through the east side of the reservation and its pinnacle (aptly named Pinnacle Rock) overlooks Oak Grove, and in the distance a great view of Boston.
The trail start out on Woodland Road and the best place to park in in the ice rink on Woodland Road. Alternatively there is parking about 100 yards up from the rink on the same side of the road. The entrance to the trail looks like a utility path blocked by a large metal beam. Just go around this and you’ll see the entrance sign (Photo on left). From here you follow the blue marked trail up the hill for about a 1/4 mile until you see the split in the trail for the white trail (Rock Circuit Trail).
Upon starting the Rock Circuit trail you quickly come to understand the reason for the name. The trail immediately starts to climb to the top of the rock ledges that sprinkle the reservation. As you follow the trail you come across many open rock ledges each providing a higher view than the next, but all still lacking any real exposure. Most are surrounded by the towering oak trees that give Oak Grove its name.
After about 1.5 miles you start to descend back towards see level without having really had any “view” to speak of, but not to worry, the grander views are still to come. About 2 miles into the trail you’ll have to cross a road, East Fellsway Road, at which point you quickly ascend back up the rock ledge. About a 1/2 mile from the East Fellsway you’ll come to your first of several impressive views of more than just oak tree trunks. This high ledge, called Black Rock (not the O.A.R. Black Rock), looks out over the small village of Oak Grove and to the right Charlestown and partly the boston harbor. Here we decided to take lunch as the views were the best of the day, not amazing, but still enjoyable, and the ledge seemed to be very flat and wide, which we had previously not seen.
After leaving Black Rock the trail gets a bit more challenging as we weaved through the cliffside, the trail goes up and down as series of ledges one can only imagine were carved by the glaciers so many millions of years ago. The next large open ledge you come across is White Rock. This gives another angle of Oak Grove, but its view beyond that is thwarted by the larger series of ledges that are to follow, so we didn’t give much time to White Rock. After several more climbs you are almost to Pinnacle Rock and the highlight of your travels.
As you approach Pinnacle Rock, we noticed a great 40 or so foot vertical ledge that had several rock climbers on it. If you feel ambitious I recommend bringing some gear (assuming your expierenced). Once upon Pinnacle Rock, your efforts are rewarded with some of the best views of the greater Boston area that are available on the north shore (on the south shore I recommend Blue Hills Reservation Skyline Trail.
The last part of the hike is simply just getting back to your car . I recommend staying for a few minutes and enjoying the sites, although i don’t recommend waiting to eat here, as the rock is not very flat and doesn’t afford many sitting areas. For the rest of the hike just follow the white trail back to where you started hiking, or if you are tired after this, then you can take the Cross Fells trail (orange).