I arrived at the West Street parking area and the morning was cool which made for a good start to the run. The trail starts out with a decent climb up a dirt road to the Fitchburg water supply tower and the start of the hiking trail. Making my way through the rocky footing in the dark was slow as I kept looking up for the markers on the trees. The Monoosnoc is marked with blue circles as seen below.
Pretty soon I arrived at the first viewpoint overlooking the city of Leominster from a rock outcropping. The majority of the climbing occurs on the Northern section of the trail where it passes over North Monoosnoc then South Monoosnoc hill before descending down towards Haynes Reservoir.
|Pre-Dawn on the way in and Daylight on the way out|
|View South from near the base of South Monoosnoc|
Winding through the grass covered rock slabs, I made my way to the first road crossing at Elm Street. The trail markings are a little tough to see, but you take a right on Elm Street road and take a left at a gate about 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile down the hill bringing you to a grassy trail along the reservoir. There is some new singletrack trail that was recently cut in this area which made for some fun running as I made my way towards the next road crossing at Wachusett Street.
|Grassy section approaching Wachusett Street|
|Section of trail leading to Fall Brook Reservoir|
|Sunlight through trees|
|Fall Brook Reservoir as the sun rises|
|Looking back at the hill along Fall Brook Reservoir from Sholan Farms|
As I approached Heywood Rd. the trail disappeared again. The maps show it traveling across the road and continuing on to Samoset School, but I could find no indication of this. After wandering around for about 15 minutes I decided that this was a good point to turn around and head back.
|Sun rising from Heywood Road, looking out over Sterling, MA|
|This guy pulled me along the descent down the Sholan Farms section|
|Return to the grassy section|
|View from South Monoosnoc|
|Rock slabs in the early morning light|
|Final descent down N. Monoosnoc to the car|
|Elevation profile, around 2,600' climbing for the whole distance|