Tag Archives: turtles

Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Newington, NH)

Date Of Visit: September 23, 2017

Location: Arboretum Drive West, Newington, New Hampshire

Hours: open daily, dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some trails have boardwalks and are not too steep or difficult

Parking: There are about 40 parking spaces in the main parking area (people do park on the side of the road when the spaces fill up)

Website: Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Trail Map: Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1,000 acres, easy to moderate trails

Highlights: easy trails, scenic views, boardwalks, wildlife

Tips:

  • mosquitoes, ticks and poison ivy are a common issue at the refuge
  • bald eagles, especially during the winter, are a common sight there

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One of the more overlooked parks in New Hampshire, Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of wildlife, pretty flowers (when in bloom) and scenic views.

Great Bay has a boardwalk with an overlook at the main trail at the parking area.

Across from the main parking area is a fenced off area that was once used to be used as a weapons storage area for the nearby Pease Air Force Base.

The trails at Great Bay are fairly easy with a few very moderate inclines.

There is a bridge along the trail as well as an overlook with a view of the bay.

When I went to visit there were still lots of flowers in bloom.

There were lots of chipmunks and squirrels scurrying around gathering acorns for the upcoming winter.  I saw this little critter while I was walking along the boardwalk.  If you look closely, you can see what looks like a cut or injury to his or her head just above his or her left eye.  It is a sign of how unyielding and harsh nature can be.  But, it is also a sign of how resilient and hardy animals are regardless of their size.  I have to admit I wanted to take this little fella home and nurse the chipmunk back to health.  But, as you can see from the photo, wildlife has a way of healing and surviving.

 

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Chipmunks aren’t the only animals at the refuge.  There are birds, turkeys and turtles as well as other types of wildlife and insects there.

The one downside of Great Bay, for me at least, is that dogs are not allowed there.  However, I did see some evidence of them and I do think they visit from time to time, although I did not see any during my visit.

 

 


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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Eastern Marsh Trail (Salisbury, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 21, 2017

Location: Friedenfels St, Salisbury, MA

Hours: accessible everyday

Cost: Free

Parking: There are 15 total parking spots designated for the rail trail.  There are 5 spots in the main parking lot on Friedenfels St at the entrance to the trail.  There are also 10 parking spots across the street from the main parking lot.  There is a larger parking lot in front of the main parking area that is a private lot.  Don’t park there as your car could be towed.

 

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1.4 miles, flat, easy trail.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, the main trail is handicapped accessible.  The side trails are not accessible due to the rocky trails and steep inclines.  There is ramp to the right of the staircase to the trail at the parking area.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic views, wide and easy trail, side trail, dog friendly, family friendly, benches to sit at, wildlife

Fitbit Stats: 1.8 miles, 502 calories, 4,504 steps (one way)

Website: Eastern Marsh Trail

Once the site of a grand railroad that ran from Boston to sections of Boston’s North Shore and New Hampshire, the Eastern Marsh Rail Trail is a true gem of the coastal section of the north shore (cities and towns north of Boston).

The railroad, which would be extended over time, began operating from Boston to Salem in 1838.  It would later be extended to Salisbury and other territories in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 1840.

Alas, the last train crossed the Merrimack River in 1965, leaving behind abandoned rail lines.  Eventually, it was proposed that the rail lines should be converted to rail trails.  Now, many decades later, instead of being used by noisy engines often carrying dangerous cargo, the rail lines are being used for exercise, dog walking and just enjoying nature.

The 1.4 mile Eastern Marsh Trail connects to the Clipper City Rail Trail  to the south and the Ghost Trail to the north.

The Eastern Marsh Trail, which is part of a system of trails along the coastal north shore which includes Newburyport and Salisbury.

The trails at Eastern Marsh Trail are flat with no significant inclines.

The Stevens Trail is a short trail (about .4 mile) that hooks up back to the main trail.  There are some views and a cute bridge along the trail.  You may see a few chipmunks along the way.  It has some minor inclines but I would classify it as easy.  This trail is not handicapped accessible due to the rocky terrain and a bridge that only has steps and no ramp.

The views along the trail are beautiful.

There are still remnants from the original railroad at the beginning of the trail.  Maybe some day they will revive the rail!

This mural from the Salisbury Art Stroll held on May 13 was still remaining along the trail.  I just missed it by a week.  But, I may have to drop by next year to check out the art on display.  This mural was a collaborative effort worked on by a group of artists.

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There were lots of little critters on and off the trail.  I would hear rustling in the trees or bushes in one direction only to be distracted by some other sound of activity in another direction.

Birds

turtles

and chipmunks

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are just a few of the animals you may see on the trail.

But, birds, chipmunks and turtles aren’t the only animals who frequent the trail.

The trail is a popular with dogs and their walkers.

I love the “side eye” Peter, a 14 year old Golden Retriever, was giving his human walker in the first photo.  All he wanted to do was greet me and say hi.

I love how May’s white fur looked against the background.  May is a 6 year old Golden Doodle.

Look at the big smiles on Mako (on the right) and Murphy (on the left)!  Mako is 6.5 years old and Murphy is 7 years old.  They are both Labradors.

 


Ravenswood Park (Gloucester, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 7, 2017

Location: 481 Western Ave, Gloucester, MA (about 1 hour northwest of Boston)

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: there are 10 parking spots in the lot outside of the park, parking is also available on the side of the road near the park.  10-20 cars can safely fit in the area by the side of the road

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Trail Size/Difficulty: 10 miles of trails and former carriage roads. Moderate hiking. Carriage roads are covered with dense crushed stone and are generally wheelchair accessible.

Handicapped Accessible: The main trail and carriage roads are accessible at least for a while.  I walked it for over 2 miles and it was an easy, wide trail.  The side trails are much more rocky and challenging.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: wildlife, lakes, vernal pools, easy to moderate trails

Fitbit Stats (distance walked, steps taken and calories burned according to Fitbit watch): 7.8 miles, 17,637 steps, 1,586 calories burned)

Website: Ravenswood Park

Trail Map: Ravenswood Park Trail Map

Although it is more famous for its long stretches of shoreline and its fishing industry, Gloucester is also home to some beautiful parks.  Boasting 10 miles of trails and several bodies of water, Ravenswood is teeming with wildlife.

One of the highlight of the park is Fernwood Lake.  Fernwood Lake is bisected by a walking path with open areas to photograph the lake and the animals that inhabit. it.

I took the Cedar Swamp Trail and hooked up onto the blue blazed Fernwood Lake Trail.  This trail is an easy 3 mile loop with many birds and trees along the path.  Of course, I went off trail to get some of my photos and I had to redouble my steps since I got a little lost.  So the hike was much more than 3 mile loop.  I took this trail partly because I thought it would be less traveled than some of the other trails and it was.  I didn’t run into many people taking these trails.  It has been a very rainy spring.  So there were lots of puddles and the area was very green.  The trails can be extremely rocky in some places, especially along the loop I took.  I did see a few runners.  But, not any cyclists.  As a side note, bikes are banned from March 1 until April 30 during the muddy season.

During my hike, I saw evidence of beavers

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And I saw these buds which will soon become blueberries.

During my visit, I saw turtles, birds, a few dogs that were visiting as well as some other critters.

Mica is a 5 year old Australian Sheepdog.

From left to right is Masy, a 3 year old Lab, and Riley, a 9 year old Lab.

Lucas is a 9 year old rescue Catahoula.


Chestnut Hill Reservation (Allston/Brighton, MA)

Date Visited: September 24, 2016

Location: Beacon St, Brighton, MA

Hours: open everyday dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a free parking lot next to the reservation that accomodates about 100 vehicles, there is additional metered off street parking

Park Size:20 acres, 1.5 circular trail loop

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 to 2 hours

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: nice views, reservoir, easy circular trail, popular with cyclists, joggers and dog walkers, lots of birds and other wildlife, shoreline fishing is permitted

Lowlights: trail can get congested

Web Site: Chestnut Hill Reservation

Trail Map: Chestnut Hill Reservation Trail Map

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Created in 1870 on marshes and meadowland to provide the city of Boston with an additional water supply, the Chestnut Reservior, the reservoir now acts as a pretty body of water encircled by a 1.5 mile circular trail loop.  The reservoir was taken off line in 1978 and is no longer needed for a water supply for the city of Boston.  But, it is still maintained as an emergency backup source for water.  Now, a plethora of birds and other aquatic animals thrive in the reservoir.

While the reservoir itself is only located in the Boston area, Chestnut Hill area of the park, which includes parts of Boston, Brookline and Newton, includes a swimming pool, skating rink.

The reservation has some beautiful views of the Brighton/Allston, Chestnut Hill and surrounding areas.  The clouds provided a pretty, albeit threatening, touch.  There are pretty flowers along the trail and, as you can see from some of the photos, the circular loop around the reservoir is very easy with only subtle, if any, inclines.  You can see the two skyscrapers of Boston (the John Hancock Tower – the glassy blue colored building on the left – and the Prudential Tower – the brownish building with the long antenna on the right).  You can also see the stylish top of one of the buildings of the Boston College campus in the first few photos of this group.

There is also an abundance of wildlife at the reservoir.  Mallards, Cormorants, Canadian Geese and a variety of other birds inhabit the reservoir.

This Cormorant had just got his or her lunch.  In the last photo the Coormorant had eith er lost the fish or just swallowed it (you can choose to believe whichever makes you sleep easier tonight).

Birds aren’t the only inhabitants of the reservoir.  Turtles and other aquatic animals occupy the reservior as well.  It’s a little hard to see butt at the bottom of the second photo there is a huge turtle.

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Since it was such a nice day outside, there were a variety of dogs at Chestnut Hill Reservation.

ViVi, a 4 year old Beagle and Cocker Spaniel mix, showed off her talents of doing a pirouette and playing patty cake to beg for treats.

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Buster is a 9 year old English Lab and Retriever mix, or the best combination ever!

Bella is, appropriately enough, a 2 year old toy poodle.  Doesn’t she look like a toy?

Luke, a 2 year old Lab, was a little shy but warmed up to the camera nicely.

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Similar Places I Have Visited In New England:

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Dorrs Pond (Manchester, NH)

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Borderland State Park (North Easton, MA)

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The Nature Trail And Cranberry Bog At Patriot Place (Foxborough, MA)

 


Northwest Park (Windsor, CT)

Date Visited: September 10, 2016

Location: 145 Lang Rd, Windsor, CT (15 mins north of Hartford, CT and half an hour south of Springfield, MA)

Hours: Open everyday, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There is ample parking(about 100 parking spots) in the main parking area as you enter by the soccer and baseball fields.  There is also a smaller parking area by the dog park on your right as you enter the park that can accommodate about a dozen cars.

Cost: Free

Size: 473 acres, 12 miles of trails

Trail Difficulty: Easy to somewhat moderate in some areas

Time To Allot For Visit: 2 to 3 hours

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: dog park, ponds, trails, flowers, reservoir, ball fields, wildlife, animals, tobacco museum, venue for events during the spring and summer

Web Site: Northwest Park

Trail Map: Northwest Park Trail Map

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Since summer is winding down, I decided to take in one last trip to one of New England’s more popular parks while the weather was still warm.

With over 12 miles of trails, a reservoir and miles of trails, Northwest Park is a scenic, family friendly park that is a great place to take your dog.

At the entrance of the park, there is a small, penned in dog park called the Windsor Dog Park.

In a way, it is odd to have a dog park in a park that is essentially a dog park.  I do suppose the penned in dog park would be good for dogs that may be too aggressive to be around other dogs or might be too shy or not yet socialized.

Along the trail past the main entrance, there is a pond with an overlook.  The pond is full of turtles, frogs and even Koi fish.  One of the visitors at the park threw some bread into the pond.  Who knew turtles liked to eat bread!

There is also an organic and community garden at the park.

There is also a barn with farm animals and other animals at the park.

One of the special parts of the park is the art scattered around the park.

The trails at the park are pretty much flat and easy to negotiate with some slight inclines.

There are several trails at Northwest Park.  We took the Brookside and Rainbow Reservoir trails.  The Brookside trail is heavily wooded without much to see except a few chipmunks.  The name Brookside seemed a bit misleading as there really wasn’t a brook to be found from the trail.

Eventually, we found ourselves by the Rainbow Reservoir.  The surface of the water was a strange shade of lime green.

There were some boats in the water and even a water skier.

The trails are full of pretty trees, colorful flowers and a few abandoned barns.

You ever notice what the inside of an abandoned barn looks like?  Then, wonder no longer.  It’s actually pretty boring. The video below gives a better look inside.

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There were also a lot of critters to see along the trails.  This chipmunk thought she could hide from me.

This squirrel wasn’t any better at hiding.

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This bird was a bit better at hiding.

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Finally, on our way out of the park, we decided to check out the tobacco museum.  The museum shows the history of the tobacco crop industry and the tools and machines they used.

Northwest Park is a great place to take your dog.  The trails are not very hard to walk and there are lots of open spaces for your dog to roam.  I found two very friendly dogs to photograph during my visit.

Tally is an 11 year old Shephherd mix.

Lada is a 1 year and 7 month old German Shepherd.

Below is a video of the water skier I saw at Rainbow Reservoir and a video of the inside of the abandoned barn I saw along the trails.

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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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