Category Archives: trees

Long Hill (Beverly, MA)

Dates of Visits: June 17, 2018 and July 13, 2018

Location: 572 Essex St, Beverly, MA

Hours: Gardens are open year-round, daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours. Peak bloom in May and June. Guided tours are offered in spring, summer, and fall and by appt.

Cost: Free

Parking: There is ample parking at the end of the entrance of the park to the left of the road

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1.2 mile loop, easy to slightly moderate in some areas

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, the estate and the grounds of the estate are accessible, although the trails may not be accessible to some people

Dog Friendly: Yes

Websites: Long Hill Trustees Website

Long Hill Facebook page

Maps: Map of Long Hill Gardens

Long Hill Trail Map

Highlights: gardens, trails, wildlife, farm, Long Hill estate, family friendly, children’s garden

Fun Facts:

  • The estate located at Long Hill was purchased by former Atlantic Monthly editor Ellery Sedgwick
  • The estate is available for weddings and other events
  • The trustees have partnered with the Food Project to give children the opportunity to learn about sustainable agricultural practices

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So, it’s the middle of July already.  How did that happen?

After a brief heatwave, the weather has improved and it has been the perfect weather for a walk and photo session at Long Hill.  In fact, I liked it so much I went twice.

Long Hill is teeming with flowers and plant life, especially this time of the year.

Adjacent to the flower gardens is what appears to be a storage area where they keep flowers to be planted at a later time.

There are also several flower beds and a well maintained garden next to the main parking area.

There are a variety of trees at Long Hill.  Many of them have the name of the tree posted on them.

But, there is only one truly majestic tree at Long Hill; the tree standing in front of the estate at Long Hill.

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This dramatic copper beech was planted by the estate owner Mabel Sedgwick.  The twin trunks of the tree seem to hug each other and merge together.  In fact, legend holds that two trees  were planted in the same hole and then they grew together.

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The grounds of the estate are well manicured with statues and other decorative items scattered around.  The grounds of the house consist of six acres of gardens, including formal, geometric outdoor “rooms.”  The sections or “rooms” include a variety of flowers such as handkerchief trees, southern magnolias and other plants that aren’t typically seen this far north.

The grounds are also a wonderful place to have a picnic with your family as this family did with their little one.  Their little one was standing behind the tree when the photo was taken.

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As if all this wasn’t enough, there is also a 1.2 mile trail with mostly gentle with some moderate inclines.  You can find many birds, garter snakes, frog and even a few chipmunks along the way.

If you get tired along the way don’t worry.  There are chairs for you to sit.

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There are certain sounds you expect to hear while hiking along a trail.  A bird squawking.  A frog croaking or even a chipmunk chirping.  These are all normal sounds you may hear along the trail.  But, a rooster crowing?  Yes, there is a small farm at Long Hill.

Next to the farm is a community outreach program called The Food Project to teach children how to grow sustainable foods, conserve and even pick their own fruit and vegetables.

Long Hill is a dog friendly park (technically, you may be asked to register your pet and sign some forms beforehand).

During my visits I saw a number of cute dogs.

Brutus is a 5 year old Doberman.IMG_2052

Remy is a 3 year old Jack Russell Terrier mix.

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Whiskey is a 5 year old mixed breed dog.

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High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary (Shelburne, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 14, 2017

Location: Patten Road, Shelburne, MA

Hours: Trails are open dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: there are 2 parking lots.  The first parking lot (called the “overflow parking lot”) which has room for about 10 cars is at the beginning of the entrance.  The other parking area is about a quarter of a mile down the main entrance road.  On the left of the road is room for about a dozen cars.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 782 acres, 5 miles/easy with some moderate inclines

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: No

Website: High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Highlights: scenic, “high ledge”, wildlife,  easy trails, vernal pool, flowers, foliage during the fall

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Known for its pretty views of the Deerfield River Valley and Mount Greylock area, its variety of flowers along its trails and its various wildlife, High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place for a quick hike to some beautiful views.

The sanctuary is a mixture of 5 miles of paved and dirt trails with a few boardwalks over some marshy areas.

Even though it was near the end of the foliage season, there was still lots of foliage on the trees during my visit.   The leaves on the ground added to the beauty of the sanctuary.

 

Rumor has it wolves roamed the High Ledges.  The Wolves’ Den Loop Trail leads to a geologic feature where local lore has it that the last wolf in the region was exterminated.

The highlight of the sanctuary is the overlook, or “high ledge” along the (wait for it…)…Ledges Trail.  The rolling hills and colorful trees offer a  picturesque vista.

 

It’s said you can see Mount Greylock from the ledge on a clear day. See it?  It’s right there…

Well, it’s somewhere there.

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The trails at High Ledges are easy overall.  But there are some strenuous areas.  My advice would be to stay on the main trails and to basically back track or follow the trail you took to the vista since that is the most direct route back and the trail is the easiest to travel, unless you’re looking for a challenge.  I felt the urge for a challenge that day and I usually do try the various trails so I can get a good feel of the park.  However, there really wasn’t, save for a few chipmunks and trees, along the side trails.

 

Chipmunks were busy storing nuts, and chewing on a few, in preparation for another long winter that will sadly soon be here.

 

 


Pinchot Sycamore Tree Park (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 10, 2017

Location: Hartford Rd Rt 185, Simsbury, CT

Hours: open daily, dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for about 10 cars to park.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Pinchot Sycamore Tree Park

Highlights: biggest tree in Connecticut, boat launch, bench to sit

Tips:

  • It may be better to see the size of the tree in the fall, winter and spring when the trees skeleton is visible to fully appreciate the size of the tree
  • The park is the right just before the Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge on Rt 185 or just after the bridge, depending upon which way you’re traveling
  • Despite what your GPS says the best road to take to get to the tree is probably Cobtail Way

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Everyday, hundreds, if not thousands, of people pass by a historic landmark without even realizing it.  It is interesting  that so many people miss out on viewing the biggest tree in Connecticut and never know it.

When it was most recently measured in 2016 by the Connecticut Botanical Society, the trunk of the Pinchot Sycamore Tree was listed at 28 feet (8.5 meters) around and 100 feet (30 meters) tall.  It is estimated to be at least 200 years old and could be as old as 300 years.  The tree’s branches sprout in various directions.  With its thick, far reaching limbs, it could easily be used in a horror movie.

The tree was named in honor of influential conservationist and Connecticut resident Gifford Pinchot in 1965.  There was a re-dedication  in 1975.

There are two markers located by the tree.  The first marker (on the left below) is a thank you to all of the groups who have worked to make the park possible.  The second marker (on the right below) is the marker from the original dedication in 1965.  You’ll note the tree’s circumference was recorded as being 23 feet and 7 inches (as opposed to the 28 feet it was measured at in 2016).

To get a better sense of the size of the tree, take a look at the trunk of the this tree in proportion to this model.

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There is also a bench located near the back of the tree that is dedicated to Pauline Schwartz.  The note on the bench states, “Come Have A Seat By Pauline Schwartz’s Favorite Tree” with some designs and, although it is slightly worn, an image that appears to be a person’s face.  Pauline, a native of Bridgeport, CT, passed away in 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.  A bench was dedicated in her honor because of her love of the park.

Behind the tree, almost hidden from the park is a boat launch that offers views of the Farmington River.

The entrance to the park is a little hard to find, unless you know where.  ON Rt 185 just before or after the bridge, there are two green poles that mark the entrance to the park.  The road to the parking lot is short but a little narrow.

As I mentioned in the tips section, it’s probably better to fully appreciate the size of the during the fall, winter or spring when the leaves are off the tree, so you can see the full size of the tree without the leaves hiding the skeleton of the tree.  Below is a photo of what the tree looks like without its leaves (from foursquare.com).


Bare Cove Park (Hingham, MA)

 

Dates Of Visit: July 28 & 30, 2017

Location: Bare Cove Park Drive, Hingham, MA (about 20 minutes south of Boston)

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There are several parking areas.  The main parking area on Bare Cove Park Drive has room for about 40-50 vehicles

Trail Size/Difficulty: 484 acres, easy trails

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fitbit stats: 3:16, 985 calories, 10,069 steps, 4.21 miles

Highlights: scenic, water, family friendly, dock house with historical military items, wildlife

Website: Bare Cove Park

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I made two visits to Bare Cove Park.  The first time I visited the park was July 28th.  I got there late on the 28th and the lighting was poor.  So, I stopped by two days later, Sunday, July 30.

As you can see by the photos, there are some beautiful sunsets at Bear Cove.  Unfortunately, the lighting wasn’t very good, though.

 

Once the site of a U.S. Naval depot (more on this later), Bare Cove Park now is the home to a variety of wildlife.  I found many birds during my visit.  There are also supposed to be fox, deer and other animals at the park.  I didn’t see any of them.  But, I did see evidence of them.

If you look closely at the little bird photo at the end, the bird has his or her lunch.

 

There was a crisp pre-autumn chill in the air when I made my way to Bare Cove Park.  It reminded me of the mornings you whittle away before the college and pro football games start.  But, I’d rather spend my day at Bare Cove anytime.

The views are simply amazing.

 

The thing that stood out to me mostly are the variety of pretty trees and flowers at the park.

 

Bare Cove is only 484 acres and it’s very easy to get around, even without a map of the park.  Trust me, I didn’t even get lost and I always get lost.  The trails are easy with hardly any inclines and they are mostly paved if you stay on the main trail.

 

Because of its proximity to Boston, Hingham was considered an important location for the military to produce ammunition and other supplies during World War II.  The magazines, or manufacturing  buildings, ran 24 hours, 7 days a week and employed thousands of people at is peak.

The dock house (only open Sunday from 12-2) has a variety of items from World War II that were manufactured in this very same area.

 

There are also two memorials outside of the dockchouse as well as other items from the days of the hey day at Bare Cove.  The ammunition depot was closed in the early 1970’s.

The memorial to the left, lying vertically on the ground, is dedicated to the men and women who worked at the ammunition depot during World War i, World War II and the Korean Conflict.

The memorial to the right standing up is dedicated to naval crew members who were lost when some ammunition exploded on a ship they were loading.

 

While dogs are allowed at Bare Cove the park is not considered a “dog park” per se.  All dogs are expected to be leashed or respond immediately to voice commands.  In my visits there all of these dogs fit into both or either category.

Here are a few of the cute four legged visitors at Bare Cove that I ran into during my visits.

Hickory is a 7 year old tree walking coon hound.

 

Bronn, named after a Games Of Throne charcater, is a 9 month old Newfie.  His mommy was teaching to fetch.

 

Gracie is a super friendly 2 year old pitbull.

 

Tundra (on the left), a 2 year old Golden Retriever, just got finished with his swim and was getting ready to go home.  His sibling, Piper (on the right), didn’t want to leave..

 

During my first visit, on the 28th of July, I met a very nice lady with three dogs.

America is a 10 year old mixed breed dog who got that name because the dog is a mix of many breeds, kind of like how America is a mix of all kinds of people.

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Sophia is a 6 year old chihuahua.

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Lily is a 10 year old Lab and Collie mix.

 

 

Bruiser is a 6 year old part pitbull.

 

Below is a video of fireflies at Bare Cove Park.  The lack of light and various animal aand bird noises give it a little bit of a spooky feel.

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Today’s featured link is a link to a 30 minute documentary that explains the history of Bear Cove Park.  The documentary was put together by Scott McMillan, the very same man who gave me a detailed tour of the dockhouse.

 


Harold Parker State Forest (No. Andover, MA)

 

Date Of Visit: June 25, 2017

Location: 305 Middleton St., No. Andover, MA (about 30 minutes north of Boston and about 1 hour southeast of Concord, NH)

Cost: There are several parking stations to pay per the hour or you can park at the headquarters which is what I did.  There wasn’t a charge to park at the headquarters the day I visited.   The charge to park at Berry Pond is $5 for MA vehicles; $6 for non-MA vehicles

Hours: trails are open sunrise to sunset.  Berry Pond Beach is open 10am-6pm from June 25- Sept 5.

Parking: There are several parking lots throughout the automated pay stations.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 35 miles of logging roads and trails/easy with some challenging inclines

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, the main paves trail is and Berry Pond has several handicapped parking spaces right near the beach.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: wildlife, beach, lakes, extensive trail system, campground area, rock climbing

Website: Harold Parker State Forest

Trail Map: Harold Parker State Forest Trail Map

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One of the more vast state forests I have visited to date, Harold Parker State Forest boasts over 35 miles of trails and roads, a beach (Berry Pond), several ponds and lakes and a variety of wildlife.  I spent over 6 hours there and, while I did cover a lot of ground, there was surely some a lot I didn’t see.  Tip of the day: if you do go, bring a trail map!

The trails at Harold Parker are generally easy with some moderate inclines.  Due to the various streams and wetlands, there are also several boardwalk trails.

 

Harold Parker is a popular spot for cyclists.  According to the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) the single track riding rates at Harold Parker State Forest are: 30% easy, 30% moderate, and 40% difficult with some rocky sections.

It is a little difficult finding the exact entrance to Harold Parker (I found 3 different addresses but I included the address of the headquarters at the top of this post).  It’s not a bad thing, though, because you can park in any of the various parking areas.  Just to make  sure to pay at the pay station when you do park.  You can also drive to each different parking area as the main road is paved and fairly wide enough for traffic, cyclists and hikers to share the road.

I began my day at Stearns Pond, one of the many ponds in the area.  Fishing is allowed and I met a friendly fisherman who goes there regularly to cast his lines.  They also allow non-motorized boating in the ponds.  There is an annual fishing festival held in September at the state forest.

 

Stearns Pond is only one of the many ponds, rivers and streams at Harold Parker State Forest.  In fact, it’s hard to keep track of which pond or river you are at, even with the aid of a map.  But, there were some amazing views from the various bodies of water.

 

Unexpectedly, I came across this huge rock.  I bet there’s a good story about this rock.  I couldn’t find anything about in my research, though.  It’s one big rock, though!  Right!?

 

One of the highlights of Harold Parker is Berry Pond which is essentially a beach area and playground for children and families.  It was a perfect beach day and the beach was packed.  But, with photographic trickery I was able to photograph the beach without showing the sun bathers and swimmers.  After all, not everyone wants to be seen in their Speedo.

 

Walking along the SKUG Reservation Trail, I came across the site of an old quarry and soapstone mill, the Jenkins Mill.  There’s not much now to indicate it was once a quarry.  If not for the marking on the map and a few rocks dispersed around the area, I would not have known it was once there.  It’s kind of a shame that something that meant so much to so many people and was once such an important part of the area is now little more than a blip on the screen.

 

There are lots of birds, chipmunks, frogs and other critters visible along the trail and in the water at Harold Parker.

 

Harold Parker State Forest is a dog friendly park.  However, I didn’t see as many dogs as I thought I would.   I did manage to see these three cuties, though!

Suzie is a 7 month old English Setter.  She is hearing impaired.  So, she can hear some sounds.  Her dad uses signals to help him communicate with her.

 

Bella (or “Bell”) is a 9 year old Beagle and Lab mix.

 

Herbie is a 1 year old Pit mix.

 

Below is a video of one of the brooks that runs through Harold Parker State Forest.  Enjoy!

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Parsons Reserve (Dartmouth, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 23, 2017

Location: 50 Horseneck Rd, Dartmouth, MA

Hours: Open everyday, sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free, but a $2 donation is appreciated

Parking: There is a free parking area across the street from the reserve for about 50 cars.  Since the daffodils are a big attraction there, it filled up by the time I left and people had to wait to get the next available spot

Handicapped Friendly: No, the dirt trails have some slight inclines and the wooden planks used to walk over the streams are very narrow

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: daffodils, wildlife, family friendly, easy trails, vernal ponds

Lowlights: Parking is very difficult unless you leave early on the weekends during daffodil season or go during the weekdays.  It is not as busy after the daffodil season has ended

Website: Parsons Reserve

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Undoubtedly the highlight of your trip to Parson Reserve has to be the sea of yellow and white daffodils.  The short daffodil season (the season usually begins the second week of April and ends the first week of May) is one of the busiest times of the year at Parson.

The entrance to parson Reserve is not easy to find if you don’t know where to look,  So, keep your eyes open and use the address listed above in your GPS.

A stream empties at the entrance to Parson reserve.  A nondescript entrance is located just past the rocky stream.  A short walk (about half a mile) along a well defined trail with a gentle incline and signs pointing to the daffodil field as well as a bench for weary travelers leads to the daffodil field.

Rows and rows of daffodils greet you at the end of the trail.

Bunny, a 6 year old Chocolate Lab who was adopted during Easter, enjoyed the daffodils!

One of the great things about my visit to Parsons is that there are also lots of trails to explore at the reserve which I had not expected.  The easy flat trails have some pretty trees and, I assume when they bloom, flowers.

There is also a vernal pool.  The staff who were there handing out maps, said they are supposed to be tadpoles there this time of the year.  I did not see any.  But, I am sure they’re there!

There were lots of critters at Parsons.  I saw this cute little guy, a garter snake, as I was leaving the reserve.  This is why I always take the less used trails (or go off trail).  A lot of wildlife gets scared by the crowds and noise and consequently, you have to explore a little to find the good stuff.

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There were also a lot of birds at the sanctuary.

Just to re-emphasize the issue of parking.  Try to arrive at Parsons by 10 on the weekends during daffodil season.  I am an early riser.  So, I found a spot with no problem.  The parking area has room for about 50 cars and it fills up quickly on the weekends this time of the year.  When I did leave around 10:30, there was already a line of cars waiting to get in to the lot.

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When I drove by even later (around 3) the entire side of the road was full of cars and the lot was full.  So, the best time to go is early in the morning or on a weekday.  But, it’s definitely worth getting up early for!

 

 


Stavros Reservation (Essex, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 22, 2017

Location: 8 Island Rd, Essex, MA (about half an hour north of Boston)

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: Parking is very limited.  There is not a parking lot for this reserve.  Parking is allowed on the grass at the side of the street

Size/Trail Difficulty/Time to Spend: 3/4 mile loop, easy trail with a moderate incline, your visit should last half an hour to an hour at the most

Handicapped Accessible: No, the trails are too steep in some parts

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: stone structure, popular birding destination, scenic views of the water, pretty trees

Website: Starvos Reservation

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What better way to celebrate Earth Day then a visit to Stavros Reserve in Essex, MA?

It was a windy and raw day, more like a fall or winter day than a spring day.  But, such is the weather for New England.  I just considered myself lucky that it wasn’t snowing.   This is New England after all.

Stavros Reserve is easy enough to find.  Parking, however, is a different story.  After driving past the reserve in the hopes of finding a parking area, I turned around and settled on a parking spot on the grass by the side of the road.  Several cars (5-10) could probably squeeze in this parking area before the side of the road narrows to accommodate the traffic on Island Rd.

At first glance, Stavros Reserve doesn’t seem like much.  The moderately steep roughly quarter of a mile incline features some scenic views, pretty trees

and this creepy looking tree that reminded me of the trees from the Wizard Of Oz.

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Once you reach the end of the trail, you’ll see a stone structure that was once a fieldstone base of a 50-foot, three-level tower built by Lamont G. Burnham in the 1880s.

The top of the trail at the reservation has some eye catching views.

Inscribed on the marker under the tree is:

“This land is a memorial to

James Niclis Stavros

For the enjoyment of all who find

Renewal of spirit in nature

Mary F. Stavros

May 17, 1986”

As an aside, I fell in love with Essex while I was there.  Antique shops and well manicured colonial style homes line the main streets.  It’s an old New England town, incorporated as a town in Massachusetts in 1819, that has kept its charm.

The birds, seagulls specifically, were acting strangely while I was there.

That was enough for me.  I saw a flock of seagulls.  So I ran.  (only people over 40 might get that one)

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