The Dickinson Trail (one of Amherst’s Literary Trails) gives one the opportunity to walk along the Fort River from Mill Lane, off South East Street to Groff Park.  Originally the named Misty Bottom Trail, the trail stretches for 0.9 miles and is a relatively easy walk.  The trail is marked with red blazes but there’s no getting lost as it twists along.  There are three stream crossings, each with a named bridge (Rocky Top, Snake Point and Mice Hollow).

The river runs along most of the north side of the trail, with farmland, fields and woods to the south (part of the Amherst College conservation area). Given the mix of water, woods and fields birders can make good use of the trail as well.  Much of the trail is shaded in summertime, colorful in the fall.

While some run the trail, its curves and bumps invite a slower walk, taking time to watch the river and listen to its flow.  I find myself edging down toward the water, camera in hand, looking for reflections, ripples, play of the sunlight on the water.  For me, the arc of the sun always brings a change in perspective and while early morning is a favorite time any other time will do.  There’s not a lot of room on the trail but walkers always manage to make way for one another to keep a reasonable distance for passing or a conversation at a reasonable distance.

From the eastern (Mill Lane) end of the trail, you can access the Norwottuck Rail Trail, which leads to other town and Amherst College trails.  The Groff Park entrance has more parking.  The park has a picnic area and restrooms. A playground, fully accessible, and splash pad are under construction. Note that `

A map of the Dickinson Trail and elevation is at:

The map indicates biking but note that the Dickinson Trail is not on the Town of Amherst’s list of trails approved for biking or horseback riding.

Photo and editorial credit: Bernie Kubiak,