By Melissa Tula
Marlborough – One of the benefits of living in suburban New England is the many state parks, reservoirs and hiking trails available to the public. With the hectic pace of the times, people drive by these hidden gems every day without realizing the natural beauty that is free to enjoy. It was with this in mind that Marlborough resident Rick Boudrie began offering monthly walking tours of the many local hiking sites for fellow Marlborough residents in June 2009.
The guided tours are held, regardless of rain or shine, on the first Saturday of every month year-round. The walks begin at 9 a.m. and last approximately one and a half to two hours, depending on the site. A typical hike covers 2 to 3 miles and the pace is set by the group. According to Rick, the group sizes have ranged from just three people to up to 25, and the walks have been canceled only twice due to icy trail conditions.
Rick, an avid hiker and bird watcher, has always had a passion for observing nature and walking the outdoors. At age 23, he hiked the Appalachian Trail, covering 2,175 miles in almost four and a half months. Sharing his interest in nature, Rick's wife, Jennifer, whom he met while hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, accompanies her husband on the monthly tours.
“We want to introduce people to the natural areas right in their own backyards,” Rick said.
The tours are open to all Marlborough residents and consist of groups containing families, teens and octogenarians. Participants are provided with a trail map and any history known about the area. Rick has an in-depth knowledge of the parks and trails in Marlborough and will share any information he has obtained from his experiences, including the history of some of the parks. During past hikes, the groups have spotted
beaver activity along the trails, bluebirds, deer and a variety of foliage, including lady slippers.
“There are times when we forget we are in Marlborough,” Rick said.
He offers guided walks of eight properties during the monthly hikes, each scheduled according to climate and time of year. The areas visited are The Desert, Cider Knoll, Felton and Mt. Ward, all conservation lands, as well as Marlborough State Forest, Callahan State Park, Sudbury Reservoir and Coyote Trail, which is conservation land in Northborough on the Marlborough border.
The Boudries, who have been residents of Marlborough since 1990, are also co-founders of Green Marlborough, a group established in 2007 to educate the public on the impact of climate changes and raise awareness of “green technologies” available to the community. In addition to the monthly walks, Green Marlborough has initiated such projects as compact fluorescent light bulb and reusable shopping bag giveaways, the Green Marlborough local TV series, Marlborough Earth Day Fair and Marlborough-owned LED traffic lights.
For the next guided walking tour and directions, go to www.greenmarlborough.org. Energy saving tips, informative links and upcoming meetings are also listed on the website.