If you live in the Watertown area of Jefferson County, NY, and you’re looking for an easy hike to commune with nature away from the crowds that usually populate Thompson Park, I highly suggest the Calcium Trail. Right off Rt. 11, it’s very accessible and relatively private. There’s a parking lot and the trail is very well-maintained. We went in the early afternoon. While there were a few other people jogging, it was a very quiet place. Several markers line the gravel path indicating the length you’ve traveled or highlighting the biodiversity. There’s a lot of that: wildflowers, songbirds, squirrels, waterfowl, and rodents (we saw a few dead voles… were they hit by bikers in the dark? Kind of weird…)
The Calcium Trail is 2.1 miles all the way. Since we’re getting back into shape and had Bee with us (snug in her carrier), we decided to walk half the trail and turn around. In total, we walked roughly 2 miles. It is not a loop, so you’ll have to plan on turning around regardless of whether you walk the whole length or not. Along with the trail makers, there are some places for you to stop and enjoy the natural surroundings – wooden bridges, benches, and a gazebo area with picnic tables. If you are in the Watertown area and seeking a quiet place to meditate or commune with nature that isn’t very busy, this seems like an excellent trail to visit. While we just went to walk and enjoy nature, I definitely want to revisit and do some meditation.
A few caveats:
1) There wasn’t a restroom at the end we explored, so make sure you take that into consideration.
2) There is also a very small playground at the gazebo area, meaning you may go expecting quiet and discover some noisy children playing. That said, there are plenty of other quiet areas to enjoy.
3) There isn’t a lot of shade on the Rt. 11 end, so dress appropriately, especially if you’re bringing a little one along for the ride!
4) Fire is not allowed. If you are hoping to do a private or small group ritual, you’ll need to find an alternative to bonfires or candles. Given the picnic table, a small birthday cake style candle probably wouldn’t attract much negative attention. Otherwise, don’t forget that the sun is the Earth’s original sacred fire!
5) Similar to the fire rule, visitors are asked not to leave anything. This is a conservation area, so keep that in mind if you intend to make an offering. Consider charging some water with your gratitude so as to not disrupt the environment.