Soapstone Hill is accessed through Gate 36 in the East Quabbin, off of Route 122 in Petersham, Massachusetts. The turn is across from the Federated Women’s State Forest, marked by a sign that indicates it breaches the road to where you’re going as well. It’s an unusually lengthy driveway off the main road, which twists and turns down a hill. At the end, there will be a “T,” before which you can park on the right.
Once parked, go to the “T” in the road and go right. You will immediately see a gate, not necessarily the gate (Gate 36), and beyond it is the one and only campground in all of the Quabbin Reservoir.
Walking down the discontinued road is emblematic of most other roads in the Quabbin; charming, picturesque, silent, justifiably pretentious.
After only minutes of walking, you come to the first landmark. A divide in the road subsists along this path that holds at its forward crest a stone wall, extricating roadway from private property. The forward-most stone has a serration where a directional plaque once sat, directing travelers along their respective avenues.
Remain on course to the left fork and it will take you to the only campground in the Quabbin. As you drift down this road, you will look left and right to see inimitable sites every 100 feet or so. In due course, you will come to a clearing on the left with several picnic tables and paths shooting out in various directions. Continuing onward will take you up a sizeable hill.
The hill leads to the Gate; Gate 36. At this mark, the campsite ends and the excursion truly begins.
Passing through this gate is like traveling through a portico. Where you were once traveling along a thoroughfare that is unmistakably still traversed by automobiles, now you are on a footpath, scarcely broad enough to be considered negotiable at some points. The invasive shrubs taunt you as you pass, audaciously interfering with your ability to hike, yet modest and receding enough to entice you to continue.
After just a few minutes, begin looking left for even narrower paths. You can take almost any of them, but some are, of course, easier to engage than others. However, as you might expect, every avenue of approach to Soapstone Hill holds comparative beauty to another.
One path I’m principally fond of, has a small meadow of pines emerging through the compost of leaves left behind by generations of trees above them. It also has a woodland canal, carving its way through the dense forest and zigzags left and right, edging the ebb and flow of this gauntlet.
When the path narrows and straightens, you will be guided up a hill to the right. When atop its rise, you wax and wane left and right across a plateau, followed by unassuming elevations and depressions. Finally, you will encounter the only remaining rise and loop back to the right.
Once this trail concludes, you will finally be atop. Soapstone Hill is, in point of fact, the single-most, consummate and exceptionally superior, innate vista in the entire Quabbin Reservoir. It allows you to see clearly for miles. Hills, mountains, islands, water, foliage, wildlife, canyons, draws, spurs, and incalculable other Quabbin wonders. Soapstone Hill grants to the common traveler, a sense and capacity of celestial synopsis. At 891 feet at its highest point, it falls just 264 feet short of the highest point in the Quabbin Reservoir, located on Prescott Peninsula, and 209 feet more shallow than the highest non-restricted hills, found in several locations. However, none of those 1100 foot summits or the hill on Prescott provide a greater view.
Soapstone Hill is not too dissimilar from the rest of the Quabbin when you consider the truth that it’s a striking venue no matter the season, but is a multiplicity of other adjectives such as matchless, exceptional, fastidious, and breathtaking when you account for the characteristics conducive to the panorama, separating it from any other place.