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The Tipling Rock Trail/Weisblatt Property was acquired in 1998. This is a property of hilly topography marked by numerous rock outcroppings, rich woodlands, and prolific vernal pools. The property has trails which lead to Tipling Rock, a popular destination which features an elevated rock formation with a scenic view east toward Boston. At over 600 feet above sea level, Tipling Rock is the highest point on the Sudbury portion of Nobscot Hill. Boston and Mount Wachusett are visible from Tipling Rock. Although Tipling Rock is not part of the Tipling Rock/Weisblatt property, hikers may access the rock through trails along the Tipling Rock/Weisblatt property.

Tipling Rock is steeped in folklore. Some commentators have proposed that Native Americans moved the boulder back and forth as a means of communication. The boulder on top of the outcropping used to tipple or rock back and forth. Thus, Native Americans would tipple it to send sound through the rock for communication. Tipling Rock also offered Native Americans an advantageous view of the countryside.

The rock shows evidence of wedge or drill holes. Historians have proposed that the rock was blasted by the late John Bartlett and his brothers. Others have speculated that a farmer leasing the field may have blasted the rock because cows could be injured by the tippling rock. Another theory is that rock was split to make a mill stone. There were further attempts to destroy parts of the rock in the 1930s.

Parking is available off of 641 Boston Post Rd.

Trail Challenges

The trail is generally wide and well used. The trail is moderately sloped for much of the distance to Tipling Rock. There are some bends and steeper parts of the trail, which make it moderately challenging. There is a section of the trail that is flat and wide, but the trail continues upward again as it approaches Tipling Rock. At Tipling Rock, the climb is very steep with wooden logs set into the ground as steps. There are rock steps also. This is a challenging part of the climb. Although Tipling Rock is very large, it has some dangerous areas where the rock falls off with steep drops.

Trail Comments

  • “The wooded trail is very beautiful, but it is a constant upward slope.”
  • “This is a favorite trail for people in the area. Tipling Rock is a great experience.”
  • “The climb up to the rock is tricky. There are steep areas with logs and rocks used as steps.”
  • “The hike is really worth it once you see the view from Tipling Rock. It is really spectacular. You can see all of the land toward Boston. You can even make out the Hancock Tower.”
  • “Tipling Rock is very scenic. There is a panoramic view of Boston and the land east of Sudbury. This view is hard to match anywhere.”

Trail Videos

   Tipling Rock Trail – Highlights

   Tipling Rock Trail – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs


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Poor Farm, like other poor farms around the country, was a working farm that produced at least some of the produce, grain, and livestock it consumed. Residents were expected to provide labor to the extent that their health would allow, both in the fields and in providing housekeeping and care for other residents. Rules were strict with minimal accommodations.

Poor farms were examples of town or county government programs (other than state or federal government programs) which provided social services for the needy within local borders. Poor farms were common in the United States beginning in the middle of the 19th century and declined in use after the Social Security Act and other programs took effect. Most poor farms disappeared completely by the 1950s.

Trail Challenges

There are no challenges; the land is flat and wide.

Trail Comments

  • “Poor Farm is a really nice farming area; it’s huge.”
  • “The farm is interesting because you can see real farming going on in Sudbury.”
  • “The forest surrounding the farm fields is impressive.”

Trail Videos

   Poor Farm Meadow – Highlights

   Poor Farm Meadow – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

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Piper Farm is a 70-acre landscape of fields, woodlands, and wetlands located off Rice Road, which is a spur off of Route 27 located approximately one-half mile east of the Town Center. It is part of the wooded gateway into Sudbury.

Piper Farm is a core property in a network of trails that traces a path from the Sudbury River to the Town Center from Route 27 near the Sudbury River to the Frost Farm Trails Conservation Land north of Route 117 and from the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge to the Assabet Wildlife Refuge. As conservation land, trails are open to the public for walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, wildlife watching, etc. The fields and clearings are available for picnicking and light camping.

Vernal pools on the property provide breeding habitats for amphibians in the spring; much needed water for forest mammals, birds, and reptiles in the summer; and food for migrating animals in the fall. The woodlands offer roosting sites for Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks.

Piper Farm is a travel corridor through which wildlife species quickly shuffle across town. Piper Farm is an essential “genetic highway “that allows subpopulations of species spread across the region to mix genetically and thereby maintain a robust gene pool. Eastern Cottontails from the Sudbury River area and others from North Sudbury and beyond the Assabet River area slowly drift through this landscape, staying for several seasons or even years.

Parking is available at the parking lot for King Philip Woods on Old Sudbury Road. 

Historical Information

Piper Farm is an exploration of the human and natural history of Sudbury. Old fields, orchards, and stone walls tell stories of life in New England 150 years ago. Artifacts from colonial times and Native America are buried in the land. The interplay of plants and animals in the woodlands and fields makes each visit to the property an opportunity to see and discover new aspects of Sudbury’s natural heritage.

Trail Challenges

The entry to Piper Farm is a moderately steep narrow trail. Hikers then enter a wide open, flat field area. The trail continues through this wide area and then enters the forested area. The forest rails contain hills and moderate slopes with multiple tree roots and rocks along the trails. Some of the slopes along minor trails can be steep. Some of these wooded area trails also contain brush and are moderately challenging to hike.

Trail Comments

  • “Piper Farm has an apple orchard that was used many years ago.”
  • “The giant field was really beautiful. There is a great view of the forest surrounding the large area of grasses.”
  • “The forest area is filled with rock walls and lush trees. The trail is really interesting inside the woods.”
  • ”There is an amazing ravine overlook which shows the land sinking into the forest. There are many steep drops in the land in this area.”
  • “Piper Farm’s woods have pine groves that are very scenic.”

Trail Videos

   Piper Farm – Highlights

   Piper Farm – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

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The King Philip Woods Conservation Land was purchased jointly by the State Department of Environmental Management and the Town of Sudbury in 1987. The 81-acre conservation land consists of two parcels. On the easterly side of Water Row is 57 acres of Sudbury River floodplain with over 1,300 feet of frontage on the Sudbury River. With the exception of a scenic viewing area, this portion of the parcel is not open to the public to ensure preservation of the wildlife habitat value of the floodplain. The westerly side of Water Row is mostly a forested upland with diverse topography, trails, a small pond and bog, and several interesting historic foundations.

Trails from the King Philip property lead to the Haynes Garrison House. Hikers can also cross Water Row to view The Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge at designated viewing areas. Haynes Garrison and The Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge are not part of the King Philip property.

Parking is available off of Old Sudbury Rd. near Wolbach Rd.

Historical Information

The abandoned Old Berlin Road, historically an important stagecoach road from Boston to Lancaster, is now a dirt road running through the upland side of the parcel from Water Row to Old Sudbury Road. A short distance in from Water Row, on the right of Old Berlin Road, the foundation of an old tavern exists. This was a 2 1/2 story structure about the size of the Wayside Inn. Historically, the structure was a stagecoach stop. It became a popular spot in the middle of the 18th century for certain unsavory “Gentlemen of the Road” namely highwaymen and horse thieves who were led by the notorious Captain Lightfoot. The Captain and his friends had plied their trade on the highways of England too successfully and, for reasons of personal health, were forced to leave their native land. Subsequently, it was noticed that several travelers who left by stage for Lancaster failed to arrive at their destination, and warnings were posted advising travelers of the hazards of stage travel. With suspicion leveled at it, the tavern became unpopular as a stopping place and gradually fell into disrepair. A later owner investigating a stone in the basement unearthed 13 skeletons – apparently the unfortunate travelers who never made it to Lancaster.

King Philip, also known as Metacom, Metacomet, or Pometacom, became Great Sachem of the Wampanoag Federation in 1662 after he inherited the power and influence of his father and brother. Philip succeeded in organizing the Native Americans of New England to fight against the English. He knew that, if the Native Americans did not go to war, they would have to submit to English authority. On April 21, 1676, Sudbury, Lancaster, and Marlborough were burned to the ground by marauding Native Americans under the command of King Philip. A feeling of impending crisis sent the Sudbury settlers to their six garrison houses. On that fateful day, a force of 1,000 to 1,500 Native Americans under King Philip infiltrated the woods, burned the isolated farmhouses, and attacked the garrisons. None of the garrison houses remain today, but the foundation of the Haynes Garrison House can be seen on the adjacent town-owned parcel. It was to the Haynes Garrison House that the two Concord survivors of the Native American massacre at the Four-Arch Bridge (at the Sudbury River in Wayland) fled for refuge. Here, the defenders showed such courage and fierce determination to defend their homes that the Native Americans gave up and faded into the woods. Perhaps the increasing frequency of musket fire from the direction of Green Hill drew the discouraged Native Americans over Goodman Hill to the main engagement. There, King Philip and his warriors finally overwhelmed the colonials that afternoon, but failed to consolidate their victory. By the end of the day, Philip had abandoned his plan to wipe out settlers all the way to Boston and turned back. In August of that year, Philip was killed in Rhode Island by one of his own men – the brother of a man Philip had killed for desertion. King Philip did not succeed in taking back any of the former Native American lands in New England. After Philip’s death, the war ended. Native American power in New England had been considerably weakened, and the future of Native Americans in New England was set.  This began the slow descent into final defeat of the Native American peoples in southern New England.

Today, legends exist about Native Americans hurling a flaming hay cart down the hill toward the Haynes Garrison House while soldiers and families remained inside. Had the Haynes Garrison House been unable to protect the town’s earliest settlers against Native American attack, King Philip’s plan to wipe out every settlement eastward until he reached Boston might have succeeded. Philip suffered a significant setback in Sudbury, and it was here that he was made to turn back.

Excerpted in part from the book, Wayland A-Z: A Dictionary of Then and Now, by Evelyn Wolfson and Dick Hoyt, published in 2004 by the Wayland Historical Society.

Trail Challenges

The forested area contains hills and slopes, with multiple tree roots and rocks along the trails. Some of the slopes along the trails can be steep. However, the main trail is generally wide with average difficulty other than some slopes. Some of these wooded area trails also contain brush and are moderately challenging to hike.

Trail Comments

  • “King Philip has a really nice pond area with lots of wildlife to see.”
  • “The woods around King Philip are really interesting, with lots of stone walls and tall trees.”
  • “Hikers can get a new perspective on the land on the big rock observation area.”
  • “Haynes Garrison contains the old foundation and a stone marking the site. It is full of history. It is interesting to imagine the battle that occurred here.” NOTE: Haynes Garrison is not part of the King Philip property.
  • “Across the street, there is a wonderful view of the Great Meadows. You can see the land for miles.” NOTE: Great Meadows is not part of the King Philip property.

Trail Videos

   King Philip Woods – Highlights

   King Philip Woods – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

 


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The Nobscot Conservation Land is 118 acres of woodland, meadows, historic sites, and an abandoned apple orchard. It is located south of Route 20 with access and parking on Brimstone Lane. The original 78 acres of the parcel was purchased in 1974 for passive recreational activities, with a gift by Alderice Maiilett in 1985 of an additional 40 acres. The area is ideally suited for hiking, bird watching, picnicking, nature study, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The Nobscot Scout Reservation which borders this parcel is private property and is not part of the Nobscot Conservation Land.

From the parking lot on Brimstone Lane, conservation land is on both sides of the road. On the uphill side of the parking lot is Nobscot Hill, the highest point in Sudbury, which affords some fine views on a clear day. The path up the embankment arrives at the abandoned apple orchard. Mt. Wachusett and Mt. Monadnock can be seen from the upper orchard. Continuing along the main trail, Martha Mary Chapel and the Carding Mill Pond are clearly visible. Looking to the northeast from the orchard, the spires in the Town Center and Round Hill can be seen. On the downhill side is a tract which includes considerable wetland. A wide variety of birds and wildflowers can be observed here. This tract includes “Ford’s Folly,” the famous dam built by Henry Ford to attempt to create a reservoir for Wayside Inn area firefighting. The dam failed to contain enough water to fulfill its intended purpose.

Historical Information

For Native Americans in the Sudbury Valley, Nobscot was a hill they called Penobscot, “place of falling rocks.” The colonists of Sudbury and Framingham shortened the name to Nobscot. The history of Sudbury mentions Nobscot many times. In the early days of the new republic, Nobscot was home to several prominent families. The Nobscot Conservation Area once comprised several farms with open farmland, stone walls, and farm buildings. Today, only the stone foundations of buildings and the stone walls remain, and much of the land has reverted to woodland. There are a number of interesting geological features such as kettle holes and eskers that tell the history of the land formed by a receding glacier.

Nobscot contains the famous dam built in the 1930’s by Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. In 1923, Ford stepped in to protect the Wayside Inn as a “splendid example of colonial America.” He purchased nearly 1,500 acres surrounding the Inn and built a traditional New England style white chapel and a field grist mill (rumored to be the “most photographed historic site”) in the Wayside Inn area. Ford had a dam built to attempt to create a reservoir for firefighting for the Wayside Inn area. The wall was built at least 30 feet high and 900 feet long out of stone and concrete. Obsessed with historic authenticity, Ford made sure all construction and renovations were accomplished in “the traditional manner” using only man and oxen power. Unfortunately, the dam never worked. It succeeded in holding back only enough water to form a wetland. The reasons given were that the soil is too porous behind the dam, and the feeding stream has very little water most of the year.

Special Notes

On the very top of Nobscot Hill, on private property, is an array of microwave antennas used for radio communication. 

Trail Challenges

The entry point from Brimstone Lane is an extremely steep climb with wooden log steps. The forested area contains minor hills and moderate slopes with multiple tree roots and rocks along the trail. Some of the slopes along minor trials can be steep; however, the main trail is generally wide with average difficulty other than some slopes. The trial to Ford’s Folly is in the opposite direction from Brimstone Lane. This trial winds through wooded areas, which contain some slopes, tree roots, and rocks. Some of these wooded area trails along both sides of Brimstone Lane also contain brush. The Ford’s Folly access is a narrow strip along the top of the structure, so hikers should be cautious.

Trail Comments

  • “The entrance to the trial is really steep, but, once you get to the top, the trail is mostly flat.”
  • “There are really nice wooded areas all over. There is a giant rock observation point further along the trail. There are stone walls everywhere.”
  • “Nobscot has some really great forest area, wetland areas, and nice trails.”
  • “Ford’s Folly is really amazing. It is a giant structure that appears out of nowhere. You can climb on top of it and see the forest from a great perspective.”
  • “Ford’s Folly is my favorite part of the trail. There are great views up there.”

Trail Videos

   Nobscot – Highlights

   Nobscot – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

 


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The 78-acre Lincoln Meadows Conservation Reservation located in the northeastern corner of Sudbury. The land is a part of a large, unspoiled 1,080-acre area In the Sudbury River Valley. This area includes the Great Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (U.S. Department of Interior), the Pantry Brook Reservation (Massachusetts Fish and Game Division), and Round Hill (Sudbury Valley Trustees), all of which are contiguous.

Lincoln Meadows, purchased by the Town of Sudbury in two parcels in 1965 and 1971, is located at the base of Round Hill. Lincoln Meadows and the surrounding areas include fields, marsh, woodland, ponds, and streams. Many kinds of plants and small animals are found in the wetland and upland terrain of Lincoln Meadows. It is situated in a major flyway where migratory birds can be observed in spring and fall.

Round Hill was purchased in 1964 by the Sudbury Valley Trustees, Inc., a private land trust. A glacial remnant of the Ice Age, it stands at an elevation of 227 feet above sea level and is the most prominent geological feature of the area. Round Hill is not part of the Lincoln Meadows property.

Both Lincoln Meadows and Round Hill are managed by the Sudbury Conservation Commission for quiet recreational use by the public and are subject to the regulations adopted by the Commission. Parking can be found at 190 Lincoln Rd.

Lincoln Meadows Garden and Viticulture Program

Lincoln Meadows features the Sudbury Community Gardens and an experimental program for viticulture. The program exists for gardeners who like to grow vegetables and flowers in the summer in a sunny location with rich soil. Garden plots exist in the organic and inorganic sections of the property. Plots are also available for residents of neighboring towns.

The cost of each 30 foot by 30-foot plot is $20 and covers plowing, manure, staking, and other incidental expenses. Smaller plots are also available. Gardeners may obtain more than one plot. A kiosk with a posted plot map provides guidance to the area, and a hand pump accesses surface water, providing a source of water into early summer. Information on the Community Gardens is located here.

Trail Challenges

The trail at Lincoln Meadows along the community gardens is wide and flat. As hikers approach Round Hill, the trail has a moderately steep slope to the top of the hill with some rocks and tree roots.

Trail Comments

– “The community gardens are really interesting. There are many crops grown by individuals in their gardens. You can also see how people tend to their gardens.”

– “The garden plots have all kinds of tools and items that people use. There is also a water pump for everyone to use.”

– “Across from Lincoln Road are large farms with massive fields.”

– “There is a great root cellar building next to the parking lot.”

– “On the east side of the property, hikers can reach the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge trails, which are really impressive also.”

Trail Videos

   Lincoln Meadows – Highlights

   Lincoln Meadows – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

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hopbrook_thThis 80-acre parcel of wetland, floodplain, meadow, and forest was purchased by the Town of Sudbury from the Sudbury Rod and Gun Club in 1967. It offers a varied habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal life. The site features multiple trails and a scenic pond. In addition, the parcel contains beautiful wildflowers, interesting mushrooms, and forest groundcovers. Frogs, turtles, salamanders, fish from the Turtle Bridge, and other species inhabit the parcel. Also, bird species such as blue heron, osprey, and hawk may be seen in the marsh. Many other bird species dwell in the oak-pine forest.

Winter sports enthusiasts may skate on the pond (at your own risk), snowshoe, and cross-country ski on the trails that connect to other open space areas.

Parking is available off of Dutton Rd. Look for the trail sign.

The link below is an informational video about Hop Brook Marsh Conservation Land made as a community service project in September 2010 by a Sudbury Girl Scout.

Hop Brook Marsh Conservation Land video

Historical Information

Hop Brook, a tributary of the much larger Sudbury River, played a crucial role in the development of the Town of Sudbury from its very early settlement. From that time and into the 18th century, Sudbury was on the perimeter of the western expansion of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The area was wilderness isolated from civilization because of the slowness of horse-drawn travel and also because of the formidable spring flooding of the Sudbury River. The inhabitants had to become self-sufficient both to survive and to develop and prosper. Local establishment of mills was essential for the grinding of grains, sawing and planning of wood, and processing of cloth. The Sudbury River was not suitable for the siting of mills because of the broad wet meadows that surround it. A major tributary, Hop Brook, was chosen. At least seven mill sites, under numerous proprietors, were established along the 9.4 miles of Hop Brook. The last of the mills operated until the middle of the 20th century. All the mill buildings on Hop Brook are gone, but, if one looks carefully, the old mill sites may be found by their remaining dams, spillways, and stonework. Old photographs, deeds, and written records still survive.

The supply of waterpower for mill operation was a major function of Hop Brook for several centuries. Another indispensable function of the brook was undoubtedly the supply of water to the farming population, their stock, and their crops. This contributed to making Sudbury one of the largest towns in the area before and during revolutionary times.

There are also indications that the Native American population used fishing weirs at numerous places on Hop Brook before white settlers arrived.

Trail Challenges

The main trails at Hop Brook Marsh are wide, flat, and well established. There are some tree roots on the minor trails. A slightly slope exists on the end of the trail past the Duck Pond near Hop Brook.

Trail Comments

  • “There are many fascinating marshes and wetlands all over the property.”
  • “The white pine forest and white pine saplings are wonderful to see.”
  • “The trial was really easy to walk, and it takes you directly to the Duck Pond and the white pine forest.”
  • “The forest all around Hop Brook was beautiful. The trail has many things to see. The Duck Pond has a blue heron and turtles. There is wildlife to see all around the pond.”
  • “The pine trees are tall and majestic.”
  • “I could spend hours around the Duck Pond. There is a trail that is next to the pond, so a hiker can really see everything going on.”
  • “The Hop Brook and the marshland around it have amazing natural features.”
  • “It would be great to walk this property at different seasons to see all of the colors and the changes in the landscape.”

Trail Videos

   Hop Brook Marsh – Highlights

   Hop Brook Marsh – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

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The Haynes Meadow Conservation Land was purchased by the Town in 1986 with the help of State funds. This 37-acre parcel contains open marshes, wooded swamps, and forested geologic formations called eskers. Hop Brook flows through the property from the Water District property to the north of the site south to Peakham Road. Spectacular views of Hop Brook can be seen from the trails along the eskers. Hiking and cross-country ski trails provide connections to the adjacent Curtis Middle School to the west and through the Sudbury Valley Trustees owned 35-acre Gray Reservation (open to the public) to the northeast.

Hop Brook formerly served several sawmills located along its banks. A dam, creating the now non-existent Conners Pond, was located just north of Peakham Road, and the remains of its structure can be seen today. The Haynes Meadow Conservation Land was the site of the Johnson Lumber Company Lodge. This lodge, built in 1920 and used as a recreational center for the lumber company employees, is also town-owned and is centrally located on the property. It is currently rented and is not open to the public. The Haynes Meadow Conservation Land provides many diverse activities and experiences for all to enjoy. Local history, flora, fauna, miles of hiking trails, and valuable water supply resources are contained on this easily accessible site.

 Trail Challenges

The trail from Peakham Road is well-traveled and flat. The trails leading to the Meadow are mostly flat and well-used. The trails around the Meadow are generally wide and established. There are some hilly areas and tree roots, but hikers can avoid most steep areas by using wider trails nearby. Hikers can access the bridge at the Meadow by using a wide, well-traveled trail or by using a hilly, more challenging trail.

 Trail Comments

  • “The scenery around Hop Brook is really amazing. The area is wetlands, glacial formations, and many ponds.”
  • “The bridge at the Natural Meadow has great views of the Hop Brook and wetlands. There are many species of wildlife to see.”
  • “The scenery on this trial is some of the best in Sudbury. Hop Brook has carved out some great natural areas with ponds, active streams, and great views.”
  • “Hikers can spend hours on the bridge because of the views. There is plenty to see because Hop Brook has created so many natural sights.”
  • “The glacial kettle hole and the woods all around Hop Brook are beautiful.”
  • “Every person in Sudbury should walk the trails around here.”

Special Notes:

Out of courtesy to the tenant and adjacent property owners at Haynes Meadow:

◾Please adhere to the “No Public Access Beyond This Point” signs near the lodge.

◾Respect the conservation land boundary signs adjacent to private property.

◾The access driveway off of Peakham Road is a right-of-way through private property. Please do not park on the driveway (see designated parking areas on map).

◾ Parking is limited at the end of the driveway at 489 Peakham Road. Additional parking is available at the end of Blueberry Hill Lane and the parking lot for Sudbury Valley Trustees Gray Reservation at the corner of Old Lancaster Road and Hudson Road.

◾Do not venture onto private property adjacent to the right-of-way.

 

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Natural and Cultural History of the Haynes Meadow Land and Gray Reservation

From the Sudbury Valley Trustees
Glacial History
As glaciers repeatedly advanced and retreated across New England, they shaped our local landscape. The land mapped here bears clear marks of their passage, providing textbook examples of several glacial formations.

Most striking is the 40-foot high ice contact face that rises just south of Hop Brook. A trail winds through oaks at the top, providing dramatic views over the brook’s flood plain far below. The slope marks one edge of a kame plain underlying Pratt’s Mill Road and the Curtis Middle School property. The flat-topped plain was built up with layers of well-stratified material deposited by glacial melt-water.

Kettleholes pit the plain, formed as sand and gravel washed and settled around chunks of ice left behind by the glacier. A steep-sided depression remained after the ice melted. The bottom of the large glacial pit behind Curtis Middle School harbors a sphagnum bog. Kame plains are frequently found in association with kame terraces, separated from them by a narrow trench or swampy moat, in this case Hop Brook and its flood plain. Saxony and Normandy Drives occupy the terrace, formed by stratified deposits laid down between a wasting tongue of ice and a valley wall.

Eskers or ice-channel fillings wind through these properties, long,narrow ridges of stratified drift deposited by rivers that ran through tunnels within the glacier or through ice-walled open channels on its surface. Look for a large boulder that perches near the trail winding along an esker top in the northeast corner of the Gray Reservation; it’s a glacial erratic carried along by the glacier and then dropped.

Human History
Human use of the land has been determined in part by the glaciers. Eskers were utilized as natural aids to create both the pond on the Gray Reservation and the pond that formerly filled Hop Brook’s flood plain, thanks to a stone dam at the site of the current bridge over the brook. Here and there along the trails, “borrow pits” mark locations where sand and gravel have been removed for various projects over the years. Gravel deposits also led the Sudbury Water District to this area in its search for well sites; water moves quickly and cleanly through gravel deposits.

Stephen and Marjorie Gray, former owners of the Gray Reservation, loved caring for their land and took great pleasure and pride from it. Mr. Gray created the pond on the property and built the cabin that formerly stood near the dam. Only its fireplace and chimney remain, but some older residents still remember dance parties and gathering around the fire after ice skating on the pond.

Shrubs and flowers were planted in the vicinity, but only a clump of day lilies at pond’s edge remains. On the south side of Hudson Road, stone walls enclose a former garden area now mowed annually to keep it open. Grapevines and roses grow on the walls.

Hop Brook formerly powered several mills located along its banks. The Willis Mill on Peakham Road sawed lumber for some fifty years, until it burned in 1898. Its mill pond flooded a portion of Haynes Meadow and was a popular spot for ice skating and hornpouting.

The mill pond became known as Conners Pond when the land changed hands. Mr. Conners built the house on the Haynes Meadow property in 1920 and installed equipment at the dam to produce his own electricity. The house was used for a time as a recreational center for the employees of Mr. Conners’ lumber company. Under new ownership and renamed Lake Ford, the pond was the centerpiece of unsuccessful plans to develop cottages on small lots around its shores. In 1955 the pond disappeared, its dike washed out during Hurricane Diane. The dam itself is still in place but nearly inaccessible.

Although town records do not provide hard evidence, terrain and oral tradition suggest that another mill existed farther upstream at Haynes Meadow, utilizing the esker that extends southwest from the wooden footbridge across Hop Brook; a dam at this area has already been mentioned. Remnants of a stone-lined channel near the foot of the steep ice-contact face suggest a sluiceway or emergency spillway. Former landowner John Powers referred to this area as the 1812 dam.

Natural History
A ramble through the properties mapped here will take you past white pine and mixed oak woods, flood plain marshes and red maple swamp, across streams and along the shores of man-made ponds. Hop Brook is an important feature of the landscape. This 9.4-mile-long stream is a major tributary to the Sudbury River. It rises in Marlborough and has flowed through four former mill ponds by the time it reaches the area shown here. Its watershed totals some 5,895 acres.

Nutrients from Marlborough’s Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant travel with the stream’s water. When the water slows during its passage through the ponds, algae blooms, creating a summertime stench that affects both owners of nearby homes and visitors to the Wayside Inn’s grist mill. The Hop Brook Protection Association is trying a variety of solutions, ranging from the purely mechanical to creating artificial wetlands and working with the EPA on the treatment plant’s permitting requirements.

The land’s geological underpinnings help to determine what grows where. Vegetation and terrain together provide a variety of wildlife habitat. The dry acid woodlands on the eskers and kame terraces include a mix of white pine and oak on south-facing slopes while pockets of hemlock show up on cooler northerly slopes. Due to thin gravely soils, shrubs are scarce – just a few huckleberries and low-bush blueberries. Wild flowers are common in late spring and early summer, including shinleaf, pink lady slippers, and wild oats. Evergreen partridgeberry, wintergreen, and pipsissewa may be identified in winter as well. Ghostly white Indian pipes sprout in the shady woods; because they gather their nutrients from nearby pine roots, they have no need for chlorophyll. Ancient club mosses and ferns carpet the area.

Water encourages other plant life. Marsh marigold, forget-me-not, and jewel weed grow near the ponds and streams. Swamp azalea scents the air from time to time during a spring walk. A sphagnum bog nestles in the bottom of the kettle hole behind Curtis Middle School.

Animal life ranges from yellow-spotted salamanders in the vernal pool tucked behind an esker on the Gray Reservation, to deer. Birds sighted on the property include northern oriole, scarlet tanager, blue jays, chickadees, titmice, and crows, sometimes mobbing the great horned owl that’s been known to hang out here. Marsh and ponds attract mallards and great blue heron. The tall trees on the Gray Reservation have in the past attracted a shy but huge exotic species, the pileated woodpecker of “Woody Woodpecker” fame.

Other exotic, introduced species are less welcome, like European buckthorn, a pesky and stubborn shrub that will take over the woods if you let it, just as purple loosest rife has filled our wetlands.

Trail Videos

   Haynes Meadow – Highlights

   Haynes Meadow – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs


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Frost Farm is located near the North Woods Office and Condominium complex on North Road. The site contains vast open meadows along with forested areas, which surround the open fields. Consult the trail map for the parking location and the trail entrance.

The house at the farm, formerly known as the Briardale Farm, was purchased by Mr. Levenstein in the 1920s. He rebuilt it as a mansion. The house burned down, and then Mr. Lowenstein immediately rebuilt it. He raised racehorses on the farm.  In 1932, he sold the farm to Mr. Frost, a wealthy gentleman farmer, who raised and sold sheep. Mr. Frost converted the horse stable to a poultry barn. The property changed hands several times in the late 20th century until the town purchased the house and grounds.

 Trail Challenges

The start of the Frost Farm trail contains a wide-open trail area and fields with small slopes. Hiking through these areas is generally easy. Hikers enter the forested area to the east of the trail, which may be muddy or flooded. The forested area contains minor hills and moderate slopes, with multiple roots and rocks along the trial. Some of the slopes along minor trails can be steep. However, the main trail is generally wide with average difficulty other than some slopes. Some of these wooded area trails also contain brush and are moderately challenging to hike.

Trail Comments

– “The meadows at the start of the hike are really colorful and beautiful. There are lots of wetlands and streams also.”

– “The forest trail has great trees and views, especially of the pond.” NOTE: The pond is not part of Frost Farm).

“The fields are surrounded by great forests and wetlands. This is one of the best hikes in Sudbury.”

“Hikers can keep going through to Concord if they head north and can reach White Pond.” NOTE: The field and White Pond are not part of Frost Farm.

Trail Videos

   Frost Farm – Highlights

   Frost Farm – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

 

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The Davis Farm Conservation Reservation is located on the south side of Rt 117 in northeast Sudbury, 0.2 miles east of the North Sudbury Fire Station. It is a 61-acre tract of land purchased in 1974 for passive recreation. The area presently has trails suitable for walking, bird-watching, cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. It adjoins a 42-acre parcel of land purchased by the Park & Recreation Commission.

A small parking lot is located parallel to the former Penn Central Railroad tracks. No motorized vehicles are allowed beyond this point. An old farm path, from which several short trails lead, winds south through the land. All trails are marked. The path ends at the base of a sledding slope and a cornfield, which is leased to a local farmer. Lush forested areas surround the farming field. There are many small streams throughout the property.

Davis Farm also contains a sledding slope, open fire pit, and camping area for public use with the permission of the Conservation Commission and the Fire Department.

A set of trails exist that connect this land to Barton Farm Conservation Land. These trails are often very wet in spring and summer and are best used in the winter.

The Davis Farmhouse was originally built as the Red Horse Tavern in the early 1700’s. Reuben Haynes then bought the farmhouse and converted it into a thriving dairy farm. He also cultivated apples, pears, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, vegetables, and grain. There is still evidence of many of these fruiting crops on the conservation land today.

Trail Challenges

The primary trail at Davis Farm is wide and generally flat. The main trail in the forested area leading to the sledding slope and the main field is wide with small slopes in some areas. Walking the sledding area involves a moderate, continuous slope. Trails within the forested area beyond the farming field contain some tree roots, rocks, and heavy vegetation.

Trail Comments

  • “The sledding slope is amazing …it’s really wide and long, and the perfect angle.”
  • “In this area, you can clearly see more farming in Sudbury.”
  • “The woods around the field are full of small trails and thick woods.”
  • “There is a giant rock observation point near the parking lot, with great views.”
  • “We saw deer near the edge of the woods.”
  • “Most of the main trail is easy to walk with beautiful woods and streams.”

Trail Videos

   Davis Farm – Highlights

   Davis Farm – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs

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The development rights for Cutting Farm were acquired by the town in 2004. Trails and a canoe launch are located on this land.

Cutting Farm is located on Route 27 North, adjacent to the Cutting Playing Field, just before the Maynard town line. The parcel includes a large scenic pond, forested areas, and a variety of trees and shrubs. Park in the Cutting Field parking lot. The trail entrance is in the back.

The Cutting property has been farmed by the Cutting family since the late 1600’s. In 2004, the Cutting family offered to preserve 55 acres of their parcel by selling a combination of land and an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) to the Town of Sudbury. The public has access to the land covered by the APR on a network of trails. This includes access for passive recreational opportunities for Sudbury residents such as walking, cross country skiing, and canoeing on Cutting Pond. The Cutting property abuts the new Assabet River Wildlife Refuge and is a portion of a 3,000-acre wildlife corridor running north to south through the towns of Sudbury, Maynard, Marlboro, Hudson, and Stow.

Trail Challenges

The trails around Cutting Farm are wide and flat. There is some vegetation on the ground while walking to the pond. Otherwise, there are no difficulties in using the paths.

Trail Comments

  • “The pond is incredible. It is really large and surrounded by trees.”
  • “The pond area alone is worth visiting. People can canoe around it. It is really spectacular.”
  • “When we walked the property, many trees and shrubs were in bloom. The scenery was really beautiful with lots of pink and white colors everywhere.”
  • “Hikers can use the pond from many perspectives. Each vista was really wonderful. The pond is a great asset to the town.”

Trail Videos

   Cutting Farm – Highlights

   Cutting Farm – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs


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Barton Farm contains active cooperative and commercial farms leased to farmers from the Conservation Commission. Farmers grow asparagus, cabbage, parsley, and other crops. The site also contains areas of wild grasses and cottontail. A Penn Central Railroad line passes through Barton Farm, intersecting the farming areas. Barton Farm also contains small streams, including Pantry Brook and Sawmill Brook, and a small pond area. Lush forest and brush areas border the farming fields.

The Barton Conservation Land is the remainder of what was once 128 acres of farmland. It was acquired by George Barton in 1850 from Israel Hunt. The farmhouse was built by Israel Hunt in 1801. The barns across Marlboro Road from the farmhouse were built in the mid 1800’s. The smallest barn, located on the north side of the two larger barns, was the original post office for North Sudbury and was formerly located at the depot between Haynes and Pantry Roads. The original barns were completely destroyed by fire in the winter of 1846, making the present barns a second set for the farm.

The individual fields were each given a name so that family and hired help could easily locate areas. As you follow the trail that begins at the parking lot, you will be able to recognize each field by its name. The first field, “Three Corner Piece” abuts Marlboro and Haynes Roads and is adjacent to the parking lot driveway. On the left is “Noyes Hill” and on the right is the “Maple Grove.” Maple saplings were sold from here to other area farms. Continuing south on the trail you enter “Noyes Flat.” Toward the woods, “Noyes Island” is surrounded by stonewalls, a ditch, and Sawmill Brook in the woods, parallel to the railroad tracks. The trails continue west through the “Rocky Piece” until the brook meets a pond. A former gristmill ran on the south side of the pond. At one time, the farm continued to Mossman Road where a few distinctive landmarks still remain.

A sign for Barton Farm is in front of the parking area.

Trail Challenges

Barton Farm, for the most part, contains relatively flat terrain. The site presents a generally easy hike, except for the area approaching the Penn Central rail line. At the rail line, a moderate incline exists with a length of approximately 15 feet to climb to the rail line. The railroad ties may be slightly difficult to walk. A descending trail leads to a wooded area. This wooded area between farming fields contains some slopes, branches, tree roots, and rocks which are moderately difficult to cross.

CAUTION: Sections of Barton Farm cross onto private property. Please stay on public trails identified on the trail map in this section.

Trail Comments

  • “An interesting group of active farm fields. A good way to see some farming in Sudbury.”
  • “The farming fields are very easy to walk around.”
  • “The trees lined the railroad tracks on either side to create a shady walkway.”
  • “It’s really fascinating to see all the crops being planted and growing.”
  • “Walking on the railroad tracks through the woods is really beautiful.”

Trail Videos

   Barton Farm – Highlights

   Barton Farm – Trail Hike

Trail Photographs


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