A group of 25 of us went on a long hike through Hale Reservation in Westwood (and briefly crossed over into the Noanet Woodlands in Dover) a little more than a week ago. Hale is a huge reservation, so we went at a brisk pace from the start, looping northwest from the Cat Rock parking area over to the pristine Storrow Pond (see photo) near the northern edge of the reservation. After spending some time enjoying the sights of the pond and the sounds of the stream that fell away from it, we turned southwest, hiking through some of the most remote-feeling land in the Boston area along a part of the Storrow Pond Trail.
After nearly a mile of walking through some very deep woods, we approached Powissett Pond (see photo), which is in the hilly western part of Hale Reservation. Like Storrow Pond, Powissett Pond is a small but scenic body of water, and we spent some time on the picnic tables there relaxing and wandering around the beach area. From there, we started climbing west toward the southwestern edge of the reservation, staying mostly on a fire lane trail, but eventually veering off to reach the highest point of the hike.
After several fairly steep twists and turns along some minor trails, we made it to the top of Powissett Peak, which is about 400 feet above sea level and has some sweeping views to the west (see photo). It was a bit windy at the top, so we didn't stay long, backtracking to the fire lane and dipping down into the Noanet Woodlands where we had lunch. From there, we took some little-used trails east back into Hale, skirting Strawberry Hill and ending up back near Powissett Pond. From there, it was an easy (and scenic) walk back to the parking area via a trail that went alongside Noanet Pond, the biggest body of water in the reservation.
The hike that we did was about 8 miles in length, but for those who want to really push themselves, a hike through Hale, Noanet, and adjacent Caryl Park in Dover could stretch well over 10 miles, depending on the route taken.