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  • Writer's pictureBetsy

Quite possibly the prettiest place on earth to run and walk

Hi FitFooters! 👋🏼👋🏽👋🏾👋🏿

I am writing this blog to you all from Northern Massachusetts, a small coastal community where I grew up and fell in love with running.

My life-long love affair with this sport definitely has a lot to do with this gorgeous state park called Maudslay Estate (see photos below) where I have spent thousands of hours running hundreds of miles.

From training for my first xc 5k in high school, to training for marathons in my 20s, to jogging with Gunney the Golden now, these woods are special.

A little history of the park:

Maudslay State Park was once an early 20th century estate of a man named Frederick Strong Moseley from a prominent family of Newburyport. The name Moseley is a variant of Maudesley or Maudesleigh, which is where the final name of the park is derived.

Today the estate shows a few signs of its previous life as a grand estate: there is an empty swimming pool with moss and lichen now taking up residence, a formal English garden, several parts of structural foundations of buildings, even a pet cemetery. Originally, the estate was created on agricultural fields and included a 72-room main house (demolished in 1955), entry drive, formal gardens, greenhouses, houses for the coachman, forester, and head gardener. In addition, there was a second large house that was destroyed by fire in 1978.

At its peak, about 40 staff serviced the estate's three greenhouses, head house, cold frames, espaliered fruit trees, winter plant house, 2-acre formal vegetable and cutting garden, 500-foot perennial border, Italian garden, rose garden, and rhododendrons, azaleas, and specimen trees, as well as the site's native mountain laurels.

Today the park hosts high school country invitationals and a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, an outdoor theatre company, horseback riders, sledders and cross-country skiers, as well as mountain bikers and bird watchers (eagles often nest in the trees that border the Merrimack River along the edge of the park).

Maudslay is a runners paradise as the trails are smooth, wide, varied terrain, on mostly soft surface t(hard packed dirt or wood chips). The park also has parking, bathrooms, and a drinking fountain at the trailhead (during non-pandemic years).

One of the luckiest breaks I got in life was being born to parents who bought a house less than a mile away from this oasis. If you ever find yourself in Boston, do yourself a favor and take the commute rail or rent a car and make the journey 40 miles north and check out this gem of a park and take yourself on a run/walk/picnic. Experience the magic that is Maudslay.

Stay well, FitFooters!

:) Betsy

My high school cross-country team posing for team photos in Maudslay State Park after practice (we spent about 90% of our practices at this park), fall of 1997. We became MA State Champions a couple weeks after this photo was taken.

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