My Goldilocks Moment While Searching for a Trail

The month of March I was on a bit of a mission. I was tasked with finding the ideal trail for an Andover High School field trip. The participants would be students in a special education class and the goal was to find a trail that could properly support our group, meeting our accessibility needs but also provide interesting scenery and landscapes.

This search soon turned me into a children’s book character as I found myself feeling like Goldilocks in the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. While I didn’t break into any bears’ homes during my research, I related to Goldilocks feeling that the items she was trying (bowls of porridge, chairs and beds) were too hot, too cold, too lumpy and just not right. 

“This trail is too muddy.”

My first stop was the AVIS Deer Jump Reservation Trail. I was excited to explore this trail as it was described as relatively flat with views of the Merrimack River. The parking area was large enough to fit the bus we’d be traveling in from school. I headed down the road to the drinking water pump station along the river to start and saw a glimpse of water ahead. So far, so good.

However, water quickly became the theme of this walk and not in a good way. As soon as I moved from the pavement to the nature path, I realized this was going to be a muddy trek. Recent rain storms had made several areas extremely muddy, making me question my decision to wear white running shoes and making it clear this wasn’t the right path for our group. 

Although my family did enjoy the 2.2 mile loop and saw many people out jogging and walking dogs along the trail, my search continued.  

“This trail is too steep.”

My next stop was the Charles Ward Reservation, a property of the Trustees of Reservations. My family and I have explored several of the walking trails here, which vary in length from one to three miles. This is a special place, comprising more than 700 acres, offering panoramic views of the Boston skyline and including unique nature features, such as a large bog and beaver wetlands. 

I decided to focus on the shortest walk (the Yellow Trail), a one-mile loop that takes you to the top of Holt Hill, as I knew that would be the most appropriate for my group. I started the walk on a wide paved road, but then moved to a more rugged trail. Since the walk promises unobstructed views of Boston on a clear day, the trail quickly changed from gradually uphill to pretty steep. As I stopped to catch my breath, I realized this trail wasn’t right for our group as we needed a relatively flat and wide path for our student group. My search continued. 

“This trail is right for us.”

My final stop was the Peggy Keck Reservation, which proved to be a good fit for our special education class for a number of reasons. First, the parking area was large enough for the bus to enter and drop us all off. Secondly, the reservation offers many walking trails with various distances, giving our group the flexibility to choose one of the right length. The trail I tested was fairly flat with some stumps and rocks, something we could navigate if we walked slowly and with caution. The biggest selling point was the scenery, providing wide open areas to set up chairs and enjoy a picnic. 

As the days get warmer and longer, consider getting outside to enjoy all that Andover has to offer. To help you prepare (and in case you missed it), check out the accessibility checklist in our recent blog: A Trail Accessibility Checklist: What to Know Before You Go – Ambling the AVIS Reservations (

With a little research and a sense of adventure, you’ll be on the path to finding your trail that is just right for you!

My view during a walk at the Charles Ward Reservation!

 The trail we decided was “right for us!”

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