Squeezed between Orchard Hill and Montgomery Middle Schools and along Back Brook, the trail gets its name from the sweet one-room schoolhouse still perched at the edge of Schuss Woods. The main trail is a paved connector through the forested little river valley between the schools and Burnt Hill Road, but you can forge a loop if you’re really determined (and willing to get wet). It’s not just the schoolhouse that lends an air of nostalgia to this place.
Initially, I followed the crumbling signs of a once-upon-a-trail in the woods behind the schoolhouse that produced no actual path but did lead me to bird’s eye glimpses of the river and a stunning white deer. Access points to a somewhat more frequented trail with an elaborate wooden bridge can be found at Orchard Hill School’s athletic field or from the Middle School parking lot.
The paved portion of the trail includes a faded partial astronomy lesson, with occasional signs representing planets (from Jupiter to Neptune) displaying statistics like that planet’s distance from the sun or the length of its year. If the rest of the solar system is still standing, I’m guessing you have to be on Orchard Hill School’s campus to get any closer to the sun.
Another section of the trail leads to a vast field of tufty, long grass with remnants of soccer and baseball equipment, that seems to have been bequeathed to the considerable deer population.
The sounds of cows mooing get louder as you follow the farthest wisp of a trail (just past Neptune!), which parallels the brook and ultimately ends, for lack of a bridge, at an interesting little river valley where beavers, wind gusts and floods all seem to have been hard at work. If you get yourself across the brook and up a steep slope, you quickly reemerge at the overgrown athletic field from which a path loops back onto the main trail.
AS A WINE…
A lovely sherry, with its charm and history woven into all of its layers and some delightful surprises tucked here and there.