Get Outside at the Case Estates
After the 20-day visit of my inlaws and a 10-day day visit from Captain Covid, the pile-up of work is no joke–between writing the Owl and doing Weston Forest & Trail work, plus Owlet Bus, this Owl needs about 36 hours put back into her day. So what’s a person to do? Run away. Yes, it is true; I packed the K9 Ranger in the car and we goofed off by visiting Hubbard Forest ostensibly to check on some abutter issues (and yes, you will be getting love letters from me shortly folks who blew leaves onto our trail) and then to Case Estates to see what’s going on with the fifth grade tree (more on that later this week) and the Marian Case Nature Classroom.
On pulling into my top-secret parking spot (fine, it’s near Hillcrest Barn), I ran into the who’s who of town volunteers–Planning Board, historical commission, Tree Advisory Group…wow! Spring has sprung. Turns out I had just missed a tour of the Rand house, the Schoolhouse and Hillcrest Barn which totally bummed me out because I like to make-believe in the Barn that Try and Win (remember Marian Case’s horses) will trot out for a walk down Legacy Trail. Alas. It’s time to figure out what to do with those buildings and save them. I would like a brewery please. And horses. Maybe sheep. I would like someone to buy me the Rand House and I will retire there with the carpenter ants and ghosts of Minute Men past. You can read more about Hillcrest Barn and Marian Case here.
All of that is to say there is nothing like a walk around Case Estates, with or without town volunteers or your dog. If you haven’t yet seen the Wes-TEN’s intro to the Legacy Trail, you may want to start there. The video is missing the newly added trees (including a fifth-grade tree–yay, class of 2028!) and a look at the Marian Case Nature Classroom, but fortunately you have the Owl for that as well as your little feeties to carry you up the trail. The Owl also covered the Legacy Trail walk in May 2021.
Here’s what you do. You park at the Community/Rec Center (never ever attempt this at school release time of 2:15 pm–Field School parents will take you out with their Excursions and Ticonderogas or whatever). Across Alphabet Lane is the entrance to the 0.3 mile stonedust trail, and if crossing the road has exhausted you, just sit down on one of the 50000000 stone benches on the way.
Head up Heartbreak Hill (umm, no) while admiring the cool-looking Field School. After the hairpin turn (and resting on bench number 500000001), a woodland trail heads off to the right if you want to be in the woods, or continue up past the centenary rhododendrons. When you are almost out of the canopy, another W-marked trail with a small green arrow underneath will point you to the Marian Case Nature Classroom, where there is always something to be learned or a creepy-crawly to be found under the stumps. You can make out the old pigsty in the forest, and also some folks are in the know about where Marian kept the dynamite.
If you take the trail south out of the classroom and take the next left, you’ll be back on stone dust and a view of the three old buildings–the Rand House, the Schoolhouse and the Hillcrest Barn. All three have flowering plants bravely carrying on without the care of Harvard or really anyone, and the cherry out front of the Rand House is worth visiting. I love to check out the old tiles in the Schoolhouse garden and peer in the windows of Hillcrest. Am I trespassing? Nah. Those buildings belong to Weston, at least for now.
Back on the trail, you can walk down to the end and the Compass Rose with the year-old tupelo tree standing watch over benches (yes, more benches! I am very tired!) Take a look at the old farm incinerator but please don’t climb it, and admire the persimmon and butternut trees beautifully pruned thanks to CPC funds last year. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a bluebird in the holly tree, or a red-tailed hawk circling overhead. From there, you can head back to your car, or continue over the hill and into the wetland forests of Conservation Woods.
A reminder that dogs must be leashed on Case Campus including the Legacy Trail and the forested areas.
Take a hike, Weston!