Category Archives: ponds

Stanley Park 2017 (Westfield, MA)

Dates Of Visits: May 31 & June 2, 2017

Location: 400 Western Ave, Westfield, MA

Hours:

Official Season: Open to the public (7 days a week) from 7:00 am until dusk daily(1/2 hour before sunset) from the first Saturday in May to the last Sunday in November.

Off-Season: Gate 1, across from Westfield State University’s Woodward Center, is open year-round from 7:00 am until dusk daily, weather permitting. Upon entrance, please note gate closing times.

Cost: Free

Parking: During the “official season” from around early May until the end of November, there are two parking areas with ample parking (probably room for 300 or more cars) .  During the off season, the second parking lot is closed.

Size/Trail Difficulty: 300 acres, easy trails

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly:Yes

Highlights: sports fields, play area, pond, trails, flower garden, fountain, sculptures, covered bridge, birds, wildlife, ample parking

Website: Stanley Park

Map: Stanley Park Map

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If you read the title of this blog post and thought thought to yourself, “Hey you’ve already posted about this place” you would be correct.  I visited Stanley Park in June, 2015 but I was told, incorrectly, by a park worker that I was not allowed to take photos there with paying a fee first.  So, I was only able to use a few photos from my original visit and I had tp use my camera phone for the remainder of the photos and they did not come out very good.  So, I decided to take another trip to the park last week.  If you do want to see my original post you can access it here:  Stanley Park in 2015.

Named after Frank Stanley Beveridge, Stanley Park, Stanley Park is one of the most popular parks in Western MA.  Throughout the year they hold various memorial services  for veterans, musical shows and even a road race among other events.  But, Stanley Park is also a great to play to visit to get away from people and just have a peaceful hike along the many trails there or to just sit and watch the various wildlife that inhabit the park.

Originally from Pembroke Shores, Nova Scotia, Frank Stanley Beveridge would go on to create the company Stanley Home Products after immigrating to the states and eventually settling in Westfield, MA.  Because of his love if nature and its inhabitants, he would establish Stanley Park of Westfield, Inc. on twenty-five acres of land in Westfield, Massachusetts.  Since then it has grown exponentially but it has still kept the same natural beauty.

The first thing that stood out to me while visiting Stanley Park are the colors, particularly during the spring summer and especially during the fall foliage season.  Whether it is the variety of birds at the park, the colorful flowers and green grass or the Koi fish in the pond, the colors were really popping at Stanley.

One of the things Stanley Park is most known for is its population of black squirrels.  Since they are not indigenous to the area, their origins have often been a matter of curious debate.  No, they weren’t dropped off by aliens nor did they travel to the park as part of a family vacation.

The black squirrels are actually from Michigan.  They were gifts from former Stanley Home Products sales managers, Hubert L. Worell and Alvah (Al) Elzerman.  They were brought there in 1948 and their population has steadily increased.  As you can see, they are very well fed.

There is a soccer/lacrosse field, basketball court and play area for children in the main parking area.  You can also access the Beveridge Nature Sanctuary Trail from the parking area.  The Sanctuary Trail is 229 acres of easy trails with some gentle inclines.

Stanley Park is home to a variety of blue jays, cardinals, ducks, geese and other birds s well as frogs and turtles.

One of the best places at Stanley Park is the area behind the pond at the entrance.  Chipmunks, squirrels, birds and other critters stop by in the hopes of some nuts or other treats from passing visitors.  In fact, when I walked over to the area chipmunks actually came out from hiding to greet me, in the hopes I might have some snacks for them.  They weren’t disappointed.

You can even hand feed them.

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Stanley Park also has a garden area with roses, rhododendrons, azaleas and other flowers and pretty trees.

There is also a covered bridge at Stanley Park.  Even though it only allows foot traffic the Goodrich Bridge is still bridge and it is indeed covered.  It is one of the 13 wooden covered bridges in Massachusetts.  I never really considered it an actual covered bridge since it is not on a roadway or sidewalk.  But, it does meet the criteria.

An old blacksmith building is located near the bridge.

There is a mill by the pond and a couple of waterfalls.

 

There are also several memorials and monuments at Stanley Park.

This Veteran’s Memorial is dedicated to all of those in Westfield who have served.  Black plaques on the ground list the names of the people from Westfield who have died while serving.

This memorial, Our Lady Of Fatima, was dedicated in September 1952 to Otto Bono Calegari, a Westfield native who was killed during the Korean Conflict.  The memorial was handcrafted by Otto’s father, Rocco Calegari.

The Carillon Tower is located near the gardens.  Completed in 1950, the tower tower was dedicated to world peace.  From time to time, the bells of the Carillon are rung at the tower as part of their Carillon Tower ceremonies.  The bronze doors are decorated with 14 relief sculptures portraying various aspects of the Park and Stanley Home Products, as well as profiles of Frank Stanley Beveridge and Catherine L. O’Brien.

The map in front of the tower measures 23 feet by 30 feet, and is composed of multicolored New York slate.

The Angel of Independence was a gift from Stanley Home Products sales persons from Mexico on October 25, 1958. The monument is a Replica of the statue Placido de lareforma in Mexico City which stands for Liberty and Freedom. The base is Vermont Marble and stands 30 feet tall.

I couldn’t find much information about this statue except that it is referred to as the “Children With Umbrella” statue.  It is a fairly new addition as far as I can tell.

There are also dinosaur tracks at Stanley Park.  Tracks that are said to be over 100 million years old.  The tracks are actually from the Carlton Nash Quarry South Hadley (MA).

There are two fountains at Stanley.  They are both located in the garden area and near the entrance by Gate 2.

I saw someone riding this cute bicycle at Stanley and she was kind enough too let me photograph it.  I especially liked the bell she would ring from time to time as she rode it.

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There is so much beauty at Stanley Park.  Just the way the trees bend and the views from the upper level where the garden is located to the duck ponds and the bridges that are scattered throughout the park are sights to behold.

Stanley Park is a great place to bring your dog, although he or she may want to chase or make friends with the ducks and geese there.

I met Duke, a 1 year old rescue, while I was walking along the Sanctuary Trail.  He was such a friendly guy!

.Biscuit, or Bubba, a 5 year old Bulldog and Mastiff was enjoying a walk along the boardwalk .  Her fur was so soft!

As the clouds came rolling in, it was evident it was time to leave.

This is video of the hail storm that followed shortly after we left.

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Benson Park (Hudson, NH)

Date Of Visit: December 5, 2016

Location: 21 Kimball Hill Rd, Hudson, NH

Cost: Free

Hours: Open everyday dawn until dusk

Parking I saw about 50 or so spots in the parking lot area

Handicapped accessible: Yes, but not on the hiking trails

Dog Friendly: Yes

Size of park and trails: 160 acres, 3 mile loop

Highlights:  9/11 memorial, ponds, trails, birds, playground, wildlife, big and pretty trees, “Woman With The Shoe”, “The Gorilla House”

Formerly known as Benson’s Wild Animal Farm and later New England Playworld, Benson Park was once a vast zoo that entertained countless visitors with their animals and attractions.  The zoo may no longer be there but Benson Park still entertains visitors with its natural beauty.

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Benson Parkwas bought by the state of New Hampshire and then transferred to the town of Hudson in 1998.  It has since been converted to a play area and nature center.  However, some remnants of the zoo remain which you will see later in this post.

The trails at Benson Park are easywith a few inclines.

The park now boasts a 3 mile loop and several ponds and streams.  The ponds were partially frozen due to the cold weather and snow that was falling.  It created some interesting shapes on the ice.

The park is a wonderful place for birding.  There are a wide variety of birds at the park from egrets to much smaller birds like cardinals and robins.  Cute birdhouses are scattered throughout the park to attract birds.

It snowed earlier in the day and it was still snowing when I arrived at Benson Park.  The snow made the views at the park even prettier than usual.

I hope momma bird took her chicks out before all the snow.

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While I didn’t see any wildlife, I did see lots of evidence of them in the snow.  I would have loved to see just one of them up close.

The first thing you’ll notice as you enter Benson Park is the tasteful and somber September 11th memorial.  Since some of the planes involved in that fateful day left from Boston’s Logan International Airport, some families in New Hampshire were directly affected.  In fact, David Kovalcin, a resident of Hudson, was on Flight 11, the plane that crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center.

The memorial consists of several stone markers with the times and locations of each attack.  A clock with the accurate time of each attack is engraved at the top of each monument.  There is also a monument to each branch of the military that works to keep us safe.

There are benches surrounding the memorial to sit and reflect.

A steel beam from an elevator shaft at the World Trade Center is also at the memorial site.  The nine-ton beam is from an elevator shaft on the 21st floor of the North Tower.  Another bam stands next to it, representing the two towers at the site.

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On a happier note, just beyond the September 11 memorial, there is a play area for children.

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Just past the playground area is the “Gorilla House.”  Tony the Gorilla used to live in this cage when the park was a zoo.  The sign on the wall at the Gorilla House states that he used to watch tv and play in the Gorilla House when the area was a zoo.  But, I couldn’t feel anything but a little sad and bothered by it.  I know that is how we treat animals (which is a whole other issue for me) and he most likely was treated well enough.  But, I always find it bothersome to see a majestic animal like that confined in such a way.  The perspective you get from looking out through the bars from his view is poignant.  In any case, children enjoy playing inside the cage and I think Tony would have liked it that way.  A mural of what appears to be Tony is painted on the wall.

Fun fact: Colossus (aka Tony the Gorilla) ran for President against Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Rumor has it voters didn’t agree with his pro banana free trade stance.

Another fun attraction for children (or young at heart adults) is the Old Woman In The Shoe, baased on the nursery tale of the same name.  The attraction is actually considered a historical monument.  It’s slightly larger than my apartment.

Benson Park is a great place to take your dog.  I saw a bunch of cute dogs during my visit.

Kuma (Japanese for “bear”), a 10 month old Akita from Maine, had fun playing in the snow.

Issy (short for Isabel), a 1 year old Lab mix, posed perfectly for me!

On my way to my car I saw this cutie.  Daisy is a 4 year old Yellow Labrador.

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Massasoit State Park (East Taunton, MA)

Date Of Visit: November 6, 2016

Location: 1361 Middleboro Ave, East Taunton, MA (about 45 minutes south of Boston, MA)

Cost: Free this time of the year.  Seasonal prices are not posted on the web site or at the park.

Hours: Open Daily 7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (hours may vary depending upon the season)

Parking: There were roughly 50 to 60 parking spots in the lot

Handicap Accessible:  No.  The side trails can be very rocky and, in some areas difficult to navigate.  The main road is paved but cars and other vehicles do travel along the road often.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Time To Spend During Visit: 2 to 3 hours

Highlights: pretty trees, pretty views, bodies of water, dog and horse friendly, cranberry bogs, boat launch (the seasonal camping sitees have not been opened since the 2008camping season)

Web Site: Massasoit State Park

Trail Map: Massasoit State Park Trail Map

Named after the sachem, or leader, of the Wompanoag Confederacy, Massasoit State Park boasts 1,207 acres of trails, 5 bodies of water and a beach area.  Add to that some pretty sweet views.

The first thing you’ll notice, and perhaps the main attraction, at Massasoit State Park are the cranberry bogs.  The colors of the cranberry and the trees clash to make some pretty contrasts, particularly during foliage season.

The trails at Massasoit State Park are mostly easy with a few moderate inclines.  There were a few boardwalks and makeshift bridges made out of trees and other debris.Many of the trails were carpeted with leaves.

Signs of foliage were everywhere.  Trees burst with orange, red, yellow and green this time of the year.

Massasoit has 5 ponds and a beach area.  The bodies of water are surrounded by pretty trees and vegetation.

Swans and other birds inhabit the ponds.

As you can tell by the photos, the weather changed about, oh, 16 times during the day.  In other words, it was your typical New England day.  It rained, hard at times, for short periods of time and the sun crept out as well.

Another thing I noticed at Massasoit State Park are the rocks.  There are white rocks placed throughout the park and other big rocks with crystal-like elements in them.

The park is also popular with cyclists.  I saw dozens of cyclists during my visit.  This friendly cyclist was nice enough to let me photograph him.

With its wide paved trail and abundant side trails, Massasoit is the perfect place to bring your dog and I saw several dogs enjoying the fall weather during my visit.

Rex is a 6 and a half year old Blue Tick Coon Hound.  Never heard of a Blue Tick Coon Hound?  Join the club.  Apparently, Blue Tick Coon Hounds are hunting dogs that are prevalent in West Virginia, which is where Rex is from.

Granger is a 4 year old Black Mouth Cur.

Cocoa is a 10 year old Chihuahua and terrier mix breed.  He lives nearby and visits the park often.

I also saw these two playmates at Massasoit.

Grace, a 2 year old Doberman and Sydney , a 1 year old Golden Doodle, affectionately played at the park.

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Bear Brook State Park (Allenstown, NH)

Date Visited: August 27, 2016

Location: 157 Deerfield Rd, Allenstown, NH

Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for children (ages 6-11), children 5 and under get in for free, NH residents 65 and older are also admitted free of charge

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset, campground schedule: May 6 -Oct. 29 (2016), Sun-Thu 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Fri 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Size: 10,000 acres

Time To Allot For Visit: 2 to 3 hours

Parking:  There are about 50-60 parking spaces in the main parking area (see photo below)

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Additional parking can be found at Hayes Field (see attached map)

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: Very popular with cyclists, several large ponds and marshes, teeming with wildlife, campgrounds, archery target area, fishing (fly fishing only)

Lowlights: too big to hike or bike all in one day

Bear Brook State Park

Bear Brook State Park Trail Map

 

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A haven for cyclists and nature lovers, Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, New Hampshire is the largest developed state park in New Hampshire.  Boasting 10,000 acres, over 40 miles of trails, several ponds and other bodies of water and marsh lands, Bear Brook is the biggest state park I have hiked.

Although there were many frogs and turtles visible at Bear Brook, birds, deer and other wildlife proved to be more elusive.

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Bear Brook also has a fishing area, two of them actually.  There is the Archery Pond, which also has an archery target area.  Only fly fishing is allowed in the pond.

The archery target practice area is to the right of the pond.

Across the paved road from Archery is a kids fishing pond for children 12 years old and younger.  A fishing pond for children!  How cute is that?

What my visit to Bear Brook lacked in deer, birds and other more typically photographed wildlife, it made up for in smaller critters.

I did see a few runners and hikers but the overwhelming majority of the visitors at Bear Brook were cyclists.  The trails vary from flat and easy to steep, rocky and challenging.  I would consider some trails to be very challenging even for the advanced cyclist and I did not see any cyclists on some of the more steep and rocky trails.

You never know what you’ll find at Bear Brook State Park.  While walking along the main trail, I came across this grave site for an unknown soldier from the Civil War.  There is no marker for the Union or Confederacy.  The only flag or designation displayed is an American flag.

There is also a stream running under a bridge at the entrance

There are also several ponds, marshes and creeks.

There are also beautiful, vividly colored trees, plant life, spiderwebs (ok, maybe that’s not so beautiful) and a sign that summer is soon ending.

Speaking of beautiful trees and plants, one that thing is hate to see at parks is the cutting down of trees or, as the parks call it”sanitation timber harvest.”  However, in the case of Bear Brook, and most state parks, there was good reason for this sanitation.  Because of an infestation of red pine scale, many of the red pine plantations had to be cut down.  The sanitation began in 2013 and was completed in 2014.  For whatever reason, it’s always sort of sad to see so many open spaces and stumps.

The trail for Hayes Farm does not lead to a farm but rather what used to be a farm.  You can see remnants of the stones which surrounded the farm from the trail.

This is my only gripe about the park.  There are long swaths of land without much there.  It’s very pretty and largely untouched by humans.  In fact, it is such a big park that I was unable to get to one of the bigger attractions, Catamount Trail that is supposed to have pretty scenic views.  But, after 6 hours of hiking and photographing the park I didn’t have the energy for that hike.  But, keep it in mind if you do go.

There is also a campground with a place to park your camper or rent one of their own.  Check their website for fees and availability.

There were not many dogs at Bear Brook.  In fact, Jack, a 9 year old rat terrier from Rhode Island, is the only dog I saw during my trip.

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Similar Places I Have Visited In New England:

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Breakheart Reservation (Saugus, MA)

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Pawtuckaway State Park (Nottingham, NH)

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Borderland State Park (North Easton, MA)

Date Visited: May 21, 2016

Location: 259 Massapoag Ave, North Easton, MA

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Hours: Open 365 days a year, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  A sign at the front gate of the parking area states cars still parked in the lot after 7 p.m. will be fined $25.

Costs: According to the website it is $5 for MA residents and $6 for non-MA residents.  There is a parking payment station located at the front of the parking area.  I have a parking pass which allows me to park in all state run parks so I do not know exactly how the parking stations work or how they charge each patron.

Parking:  The parking lot is pretty big.  It looks like there are easily 200 spaces.  When we left, on a busy day at peak hours, there were still plenty of parking spots available, albeit far from the entrance to the trails.   There is also an alternate parking area before the main parking area for people with special passes.

Highlights: mansion, 6 ponds, quarry, 20 miles of hiking trails, large field for frisbee golf and other activities.  Fishing, canoeing and horseback riding are allowed.  Leashed dogs are permitted. Easy to moderate trails, teeming with wildlife.  Peaceful feeling, even when the park is packed.

*Please note, some of the slideshows take some time to load, unfortunately (especially on tablets and cellphones).  You may have to refresh but they may take a few minutes to load*

Created during the early 1900’s by artist and suffragist Blanche Ames and her husband Oakes Ames, Borderland State Park has been a state park since it was purchased by the state in 1971.  The Ames’ home, a three-story stone mansion built in 1910 still stands on the grounds.

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The grounds of the mansion are manicured impeccably.  They even take care of those pesky witches (or whatever that is on the lawn) .

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Bordering on the towns of Sharon and Easton in Southern MA, Borderland has a variety of trails for runners, walkers, cyclists and even horseback riders.  The trails are easy to moderate and I saw many runners on the trail.

Located about 45 minutes south of Boston and half an hour north of Providence, Rhode Island, Borderland State Park is a popular destination for people from all sections of New England.  It is easy to see why so many people flock to the park when you see the views.

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Sometimes it’s the little things that make the park so much fun.  Whether it’s the frisbee golf course on the lawn in front of the mansion (I can only imagine what the Ames’s would have thought of that) or the benches that are liberally scattered throughout the park  or the always full bowls of water thoughtfully left out for the thirsty dogs, the park really does think of everything.

here was also an abandoned building along one of the trails.

There are always pleasant surprises when you go to visit the different parks in New England.  One of those surprises was a mother bird feeding her babies in the nest on the beams of the roof of the abandoned building pictured above.  I did my best to seem as unobtrusive and I used my telephoto lens from a distance while I took these photos.  I love how the mother looks so protective and is surveying the area for potential threats.

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Then, as I was taking photos of the pond, I saw these little critters.  Look at how the frogs almost perfectly camouflage themselves.  It’s almost the perfect disguise.  Man, I love nature!

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Ok, the snake isn’t so “little.”  But, I wasn’t about to get closer to see just how big he was.

And the animals didn’t stop there.

There were dogs a plenty also at Borderland State Park.

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Beef is a 6 year old  American Bullweiler (American Bulldog and Rottweiler mix).  He was being trained by his dad.  I thought the last photo showed just how much affection he has for his guardian.

Mason, a chocolate Labrador, took advantage of the warm weather to go for a swim.

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Romeo, an English Chocolate Labrador, celebrated his 10 month birthday at the park!

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Balto, a 7 month German Shepherd, wants attentively for the rest of the family to show up.

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William Francis Bird Park (East Walpole, MA)

Date Visited: April 24, 2016

Location: Polly Lane, Walpole, MA

Cost: Free

Parking: I counted 25 parking spots in the main parking area outside the park.  Parking is free.  There may be several parking lots.

Francis William Bird Park

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As the name suggests, there are lots of birds to watch at Francis William Bird Park.  Either there are lots of robins at the park or I photographed the same one over and over.

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There are more than birds at the park to catch your attention.

Such as trees and flowers

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the ponds and streams

and the bridges (each bridge is made slightly differently)

The trails are easy and branch off to side trails.  But, since it is all concentrated in one area it is hard to get lost there.

The tree below was planted in memory of Charles Sumner Bird, a paper manufacturer, candidate for governor of Massachusetts, resident of Walpole MA and the son of William Francis Bird.

Tip of the day; don’t get too close to a goose and his or her Cheetos.

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You’re not supposed to feed the birds at William Francis (and you’re especially not supposed to feed them Cheetos).  It’s not good for them physically and it creates more messes on the trail.  But, of course, people still do.

Along the trails, there are benches and places to enjoy the outdoors.  Or, you can just chill on a rock or log.  There is also a restroom (open seasonly)

Charlot (pronounced Char-lo) is a local (local to Walpole) artist, storyteller and cultural and historical expert.  He specializes in Haitian art and culture.  He likes to go to the park to paint and relax.  He was kind enough to let me photograph him painting.  He calls the first painting Silhouette Of The Drum.  he was also touching up a painting he had finished previously.

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Charlot is very talented.  You can find out more about him here.

There are also a variety of attractions for sportsmen and sportswomen.  The trails make for great running surfaces.  There are four tennis courts as well as a basketball backboard (but not a court) .  There are also musical and other types of events during the summer by the main field.

Birds aren’t the only animals you will find at Francis William Bird Park.  The park is also popular spot for dogs.  The trails and open spaces make it a great place to take your pooch.

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Henry is a 3 year old Basset Hound.  Cute freckles on his left front paw!

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Sophia is a 5 year old Newfoundland.  Sophia reminded me of a Newfoundland we had.  Beautiful dog.

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Buddha is a 3 month old Hound mix.  I love the eyebrows!

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Myles Standish State Forest (Carver, MA)

Date visited: December 6, 2015

Spending a crisp autumn day at Myles Standish State Park makes you long for summer days.

Since it is so big, Myles Standish has several parking areas.  I parked at the main parking area where the ranger headquarters is located on Cranberry Rd.  There were about 30 or 40 parking spots at this parking area.  It wasn’t a problem finding a spot when I went but I bet it fills up quickly if you don’t go early during the spring and summer.  Myles Standish also has camp sites for tents and some for RV’s.  It costs $8 for MA residents and $10 for non MA residents to visit for the day when the park is open for the season.  It is free off during the off season.

As beautiful as the forest is in late fall, it must be even so much prettier when all the flowers are in bloom or during foliage season.  The wind was just strong enough to give the water a little ripple effect.

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There were birds a plenty at Myles Standish.  The woodpecker in the second photo was too busy pecking to be scared away.

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Myles Standish is a huge forest and it extends into several towns.  There are 16 ponds, 13 miles of hiking trails and 15 miles of biking trails in Myles Standish.  I stopped by Fearing Pond.

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There was also quite a few pretty trees and vegetation at the forest.

My one gripe about Myles Standish is the amount of trees they had cut down.  It wasn’t clear why they had the trees down.  But, it was unsettling nonetheless.

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