When I visited on a crisp and bright September day on the heels of a newborn Autumn, I was intercepted by a stern but gracious town law officer, who evidently got a call from some other inhabitant about the suspicions spun of me wandering with a camera.
I waved my print out Bay Circuit crap map kit at him and he scoffed... "Bay Circuit... never heard of it..." while probably weighing my hazard value on whatever scale they use. It was pretty funny considering I was standing on it.
But he perked up when I switched my query to the proximity of Route 133. That, at least, was proof I had some familiarity with the area.
The trail is sort of up in the air in parts of Rowley and subject to negotiations that may be encumbered by estate quarrels and such.
The worry is about liability from the provisional route along old 1A. Rural and suburban towns don't always provide regulation sidewalks nor is the expense a thing they'll bear.
And it is an attorney saturated, litigation clogged mess of a state, so much nail biting attends 'what to do about the Rowley Gap?'.
Much of non urban Massachusetts is still firmly in the grip of intractable motorism so a hiker, (really sub species of pedestrian'), is as exposed as a fly on a windowpane and generally viewed by those cocooned behind windshields as a potential hazard and quasi pariah, if adult.
As a seasoned shanks mare pariah, I didn't find old 1A to be particularly daunting but liability aversion researchers have more unhatched chickens to count than the mere like of me.
If anything I LOVE ROWLEY. The route is near perfect as is. It is a place that time decided not to bother all that much. Its main economic activity is a competing pair of antiques flea market locations. What's not to like?
It has killer barbecue and train access. If you needed to take a timeless slice of coastal Essex County and seal it for a long haul, this would be it. There is a stunning Massachusetts Audubon property at Rough Meadows.
Oh and did I mention that the entire corridor going back to Plum Island is basically perfect for bicyclists? Vehicular traffic is generally moderate for much of the time beyond the usual peak points.
But the liability hand wringing has led to a kind of dithering over the role of its primary open space feature, Prospect Hill. One routing plan more or less bypasses it and there is some worry that the existing route may be too strenuous.
Really the biggest problem it now has is the crappy blazing and inept description, always a deadly combo. I'll eventually figure out what to do with the half hour of 'lost' clips I have.
For now the place could use some love.