The Time is Now for a Walk on Legacy Trail

The view of the trail from the Compass Rose end point

If you have not yet taken a stroll on the Legacy Trail at Case Estates, the time is now. Rhododendrons including a Weston maroon one are competing to be your favorite, the new hawthorns are in full bloom, azaleas spring from forgotten foundations, and a diversion into the woods near the Marian Case Nature Classroom will net you unhindered views of the delicate lady’s slipper flowers. What a treasure for Weston and its visitors.

The Owl wandered up the “stone dust” (I think that’s actually gravel, but who am I to quibble?) trail from the parking lot on Alphabet Lane — you can park in the Rec/COA lot, cross Alphabet and enter by the historic stone pillars. While the trail opened last year, the pillars are historic–they were rescued from destruction at the Sears Estate and the old Field School. You can read some of the history of the Legacy Trail on the town page. In addition, if you find yourself outside of Weston but wanting to take a tour, you can watch the Grand Opening view from the Wes-TEN (filmed in the fall so enjoy the autumn colors too).

The most spectacular rhodi is just after Danger Curve (you know the spot–black diamond at Cannon has nothing on us–the Owl may or may not have had a small airborne issue there cross-country skiing this winter. No comment). Unfortunately, the Owl was having a nice conversation with a new friend just as she came upon this awesome shrubbery and appears to be slightly drunk in its orientation.

Rhododendron Gocattius, photo taken while leaning over perhaps

Behind the rhododendron is a small trail to the famous Louisa’s Wall, which is almost as famous for Town Meeting shenanigans as for when Marian Case gave a huge wall to her sister Louisa. My sibling gives me Patagonia sweaters which I quite like but next year I will see if he will rebuild the chipmunk-infested stone wall in my backyard. There are more rhodis near Louisa’s Wall and they are all in different states of party time.

As you continue along the stone-dust trail, you should note all the stone benches with the names of generous supporters of Weston’s 300th birthday year. You will not be tired yet, but there are no mosquitos so why not sit down for a bit and contemplate large trees. The woods area of Legacy Trail is the only part maintained by Weston Forest & Trail which also maintains all of the dirt trails in the woods of Case. And of course, the Nature Classroom, which fast approacheth.

Marian Case Nature Classroom

After your seated sojourn, continue on your way. When the path begins a gentle curve to the left, you will note humongous downed white pines, chopped into enticingly large logs for climbing about on. If you feel like a side diversion, turn right and visit the Nature Classroom which will open up a little farther down that dirt trail. You can also spy the concrete remains of the pigsty if you know what you’re looking for, and probably you don’t, unless you are Brian Donahue and then you know everything. The pigsty is not safe to play in so head into the classroom and think about all the children who hop about on stumps and learn the difference between hardwood and pine, and how to take care of the open space of Weston. Well, that’s the Owl’s hope anyway.

Lady’s slipper

On the far side of the Nature Classroom (passing through the stumps), you will be on the road cut by Land’s Sake as they forested some of the trees on Case Estates. Midway down the path, there are a number of gorgeous lady’s slippers: they don’t stay long and it is prohibited to pick in Massachusetts so just admire and then wind your way back to the Legacy Trail. Or take a quick look for where Marian Case kept the dynamite. Yes, true. Marian was a firecracker (hahaha, sorry had to happen).

Back on the Legacy Trail you will curve around to a point where the connector to Wellesley Street and the Ash Street connector head off downhill. That trail is not covered by this post but it’s worth a wander if you like open field trails. Wear your sunscreen. Continue up the hill and wonder at the Rand House (former home of a Minute Man, and then the farm manager at Hillcrest), the red School House where the Hillcrest Boys learned lots of stuff, and the sublime Case Barn, which will always and forever be a love of the Owl. There will be an Owl soon about why Men in Suits should buy it and make it into a brewery, or home office for local media where they can park their Clydesdales downstairs. I digress.

Gratuitous photo of Case Barn in winter (snow!)

The Legacy Trail peaks out where another trail leads you back into the woods (WFTA is tempting that way, no?) and where three hawthorn trees were planted on Arbor Day and are now blooming like crazy. They’ve got their water skirts on and one is marked with a plaque for the Class of 2028, the current fifth grade class. Let’s watch that one grow and grow like the kids will. Who wins? Let’s see.

Class of 2028 tree on right

If you continue down the trail, the vistas are of open long-grassed fields, the incinerator where the Hillcrest farm manager burned brush, and historic trees including the butternut and the persimmon, which were just funded at Town Meeting to be rescued from ignobility. Last evening, a gentle breeze rustled the grasses which lay down in patterns along the hillside. Mesmerizing.

Mysterious green spot in the field. No idea.

You can end your walk at the Compass Rose where the legacy of George Bates is celebrated, and a new tupelo tree (also an Arbor Day tree) benefits from a “Tree Diaper” technology that will keep it hydrated on this dry point in the trail. The Owl would like to thank town Parks & Recreation queen Jacqui Jackson for her superb care of these needy trees. This area marks the spot of the Summer House from way back when (yeah, I’ll do a history post later).

Tree diaper lives under that dirt. So embarassing for the tupelo, no?

If you feel like more of a walk, you can launch yourself off the backside of the Compass Rose, down the hill and either stay straight to wander into the Woodland wetland trails, or you can turn right and look for some more stone foundation ruins where azaleas grow. Oh wait, maybe those are rhodis. Ah well, walk with the Garden Club if you have questions. You can make a full loop by turning right on a steep trail (not for the mobility-challenged) and back past the Nature Classroom. Here’s a map, or best is to get the GIS map going on your phone.

Legacy Trail and connectors in yellow

Legacy Trail is a beautiful and ever-changing environment–the Owl would go every day to see what was going on…if life were different. Yesterday a woodchuck made a break for it near the incinerator, causing a cacophony of wild turkeys being startled. A red-tailed hawk circled lazily above. Get outside, Weston, this is your reward for sitting through lots of hours of Town Meetings.

Note that parking is at COA/Rec Barn, but if you go during school hours when things are busy (particularly pickup time around 2:20 pm), you can also park near Case House and add to your 0.3 mile walk. You can do it.

2 comments

  • A great reminder to go now while the rhodies are stunning! Taller, very old ones are also coming into bloom south of Louisa, where there used to be a carriage drive (now quite overgrown). Someday let’s rejuvenate that path!

  • The Owl inspired us! We hiked the trail, found the lady’s slippers, and admired the new trees. At Nina Danforth’s suggestion, we even brought a gallon of water to give the tupelo at the terminus a drink. The rhodies are phenomenal!

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