Hopkinton, Mass., is best known as the site of the Boston Marathon starting line. Every April since 1924, entrants in the world’s oldest annual marathon have gathered on Main Street, prepared for a hilly 26.2 run into downtown Boston. But that’s not all this town has to offer: Just over a mile away, in Hopkinton State Park, runners can get off the pavement and enjoy a little trail running.
Turn off Main Street onto Cedar Street and it’s a straight shot to the park’s main entrance—but runners might want to turn onto Legacy Farms Road instead. A few free parking spots provide easy access to the park’s trails. (A fee is charged at the main entrance from May through October.)
On a crisp December morning, I pulled in behind two other cars, stretched for a few minutes, then set off on the Reservoir Run Trail. On the map it traces the southern edge of the water but doesn’t connect to trails deeper into the park. I hoped there were some unmapped trails that would let me go further. Rows of roots stick out of the thin soil. Unofficial side trails lead to homes in a nearby neighborhood—and some locals have set chairs and benches on the water. I imagine them sitting here with a hot beverage, enjoying fall foliage erupting on the opposite side of the reservoir. But I’m a few months too late for that. Instead I’m greeted by the eerie squeaking and cracking of winter’s first thin layer of ice on the water.
About 0.8 mile into the run, I found that the trail does indeed dead-end (probably should’ve believed the map…) so I made a u-turn and retraced my steps to the trailhead, crossed Cedar Street, and found a trail into the park’s western half. The Glebe Trail follows an outlet from the reservoir and led me into a more remote section of the park where the best running is.
I slowed to make my way gingerly through a stretch overgrown by thorny vines. Then the trail suddenly opened up. It was wide, grassy, and downright pleasant. I glimpsed a fluorescent yellow patch ahead, as though someone dropped a reflective vest in the trail. As I neared, I realized it was a vibrant patch of moss basking in a ray of sunlight. For the first time, I settled into a rhythm and began to enjoy my surroundings.
I hit the Duck Trail, swung right, crossed a mossy bridge, and made my way to the Pipeline then Fisher trails, enjoying the range of surfaces—from gravel road to rocky single track. As is typically the case, the back half of the run passed much faster than the beginning and soon I could see the reservoir through the trees and hear cars zipping down Cedar Street. Running had brought me out to Hopkinton countless times before, but this was a side of the town I’d never seen before.