The Pilgrim Trek Hike
by Robert A. Greaves
The Pilgrim Trek is a 6 mile circular trail through Plymouth. The trail starts and finishes at the information center at exit 5 on route 3 , where there is ample parking , rest rooms and additional information available about the attractions in the area.
TO REACH THE STARTING POINT FROM THE NORTH: travel Route 3 south to exit 5 , the information center is in the rest area.
TO REACH THE STARTING POINT FROM THE SOUTH: travel route 3 north to exit 5 , take a left at the bottom of the ramp , go under the bridge , take a right and follow the signs to the Information center.
TO REACH THE STARTING POINT FROM THE WEST: follow Route 44 to Route 3 , go south on Route 3 to exit 5 , the Information Center is in the rest area.
The Indian totem at the visitors center was erected in 1983 , and was hand-carved by Peter "Wolf" Toth , who has placed a totem in each state in the union.
To hike the trail : walk to the south end of the parking lot and continue on the paved footpath to pass under the exit ramp , turn left on South Street for about a mile and a half , then go left on Pleasant Street. You will come to the Training Green.
The Training Green was "town property for public and common benefit". Pilgrims trained their militia here , with Miles Standish as their instructor. Later in revolutionary times , minutemen prepared for duty with the Continental Army. In the late 19th century , Nathanial Morton of Plymouth and the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Ohmstead Sr. , the designer of Central Park in New York , the Capital grounds in Washington D.C. , and Boston Commons combined their talents to make the area into a park. The school you see as you look to the northeast is named after Nathanial Morton. The monument to the Plymouth dead was built in 1869. On the four corners are the emblems of the infantry , the artillery , the cavalry , and the navy. there is also a dedication and a listing of the 68 sons of Plymouth that fell in that war.
Continue north on Pleasant Street , just before the bridge , turn left through the gate to enter Brewster Gardens. The fresh water from Town Brook was a major reason for the Mayflower travellers to settle here. walk along the path that follows Town Brook as it goes under the bridges rushing to the sea. Cross the wooden bridge over Town Brook and bear to the left. You will come to pilgrim spring where you will find a tablet placed in memory of Dr. Charles T. jackson , whose experimental work with ether as an anesthetic paved the way for it's sucessful use. Follow the path to the Pilgrim Maiden. The pilgrim Maiden was sculpted by H.H. Kitson and is dedicated to the English women who helped to form this new nation. Travelling northeast you will come to the Eddy family plaque , placed in memory of John and Samuel Eddy , two passengers aboard the 'Handmaid ' which arrived in Plymouth on October 29,1630. At the northeast entrance to the park you will find a plaque to honor William Brewster . Turn left along Water Street. Continuing north for a short distance will bring you to the statue of Governor William Bradford which was designed by Cyrus Dallin.
Plymouth Rock is a short distance north and is the traditional landing spot of the Pilgrims. Though the rock was moved several times over the years , it was finally returned to the shore and placed under this portico about 1920.
As you continue north on Water street , you will will come to the statue of the Pilgrim Mother on the left. This statue was sculpted by Paul O'Jennewein and lists the names of the women of the Mayflower.
Turn right onto the State Pier to view the replica of the ship ' Mayflower '. This ship is a copy of a typical English merchant ship of the seventeenth century. She was built in England and sailed across the Atlantic in 1957 to her berth at the State Pier. She is 106 feet long and weighs 181 tons.
If you wish to buy patches at ths time, continue north on Water Street and take a left on Brewster Street , at the top of the street turn right and cross Howland Street . Three doors further down is Plymouth Trophy and Award ; an authorized B.S.A. supplier that also carries Pilgrim Trail & Trek Patches . retrace your steps to the State Pier.
Return to Plymouth Rock , cross the street and climb the steps to the top of Coles Hill. Coles Hill was named after James Cole who held the land in 1633. It was the first burial place in Plymouth. Fifty Pilgrims ( almost half their number) where buried here in the first winter. In 1621 it was leveled and planted to conceal from the Indians the reduced number of settlers. There are coin-operated telescopes at the top to view the area. The bronze statue of Massasoit , the Indian chief , who befriended and helped the Pilgrims was designed by Cyrus Dallin and erected in 1921. The sarcophagus holds the bones that have been discovered at various times in this first burying ground. As you continue along the top of Coles Hill there are several other monuments such as the Gurnet Table and the two stone benches.
Follow Carver Street south along the top of Coles Hill , it will merge with Leyden street - the first street in Plymouth. In 1621 the Pilgrims Laid out their street parallel to Town Brook. For many years it was just called 'The Street' and it ran from the sea to the base of Burial Hill ( the called Fort Hill ). As you walk this street , you will find many plaques dedicated to the Pilgrim families that lived here first.
At the traffic light , Leyden street crosses Main Street and enters Town Square. Surrounding Town Square are : The Church of the Pilgrimage which was erected in 1840 and is the chartering partner of Troop and Pack 47 in Plymouth ; the stone church at the top of the square is the fifth meeting house of the First Parish in Plymouth , it was erected in 1898 and this church has maintained a continuing ministry since 1620 ; and the 1749 Court House which is the oldest wooden Court House and the longest used municiple building in America. This building also housed the first public market. Behind the Court House are public rest rooms.
Climb the stairs beside the stone church to the top of Burial Hill. The peak of Burial Hill was the site of the Fort Meeting House. The eariest graves here were left unmarked. Governor Bradford is thought to be buried near his son Major William Bradford. Pilgrim John Holland's grave lies on the westerly slope of the hill. Other graves of interest are Edward Gray , who arrived in Plymouth in 1643 , and Robert Cushman , who was the Pilgrim's chief agent in London. Many stones are notable for their carvings and inscriptions.
Continue through Burial Hill , and you will come to the old Powder House site where powder and shot for the fort was stored.
Go down the steps by the Bradford monument onto Spring Lane to Summer street. Cross summer street and continue on Spring Lane to the Jenny Grist Mill. The original grist mill was built by John Jenny , a brewery worker , and was Plymouth's first mill. The Grist Mill's parking lot provides an optional starting place for a shorter (5 mile) hike (derived from the Pilgrim Trail) that will allow more sightseeing time). Turn left and follow the path along Town Brook to Market street and follow Market Street in front of Friendly's onto sandwich Street.
The building on your right is the Howland House , the only home remaining in Plymouth in which one of the original Mayflower Pilgrims actually lived. It was built in 1667 by two master carpenters : John Alden and Kenelin Winslow.
Go south on Sandwich Street , as you again pass the Training Green , notice the 1919 Elm which was planted by the school children of Plymouth after World War 1. Still going south , you will come to the Harlow Old Fort House . This house was built by sergeant William Harlow using the original timbers from the old fort on top of Burial Hill. Walk south until you come to Jabez Corner ;bear right on Sandwich Street , and right again on Obery Street , bear left onto south Street and continue under Route 3 , the follow the paved path back to the Information Center to end the hike.