Cutler Park Reservation (Needham, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 2, 2019

Location: 84 Kendrick St., Needham, MA

Hours: open daily dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for about 50 cars in the main lot and parking may be available at nearby lots.

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Park size/trail difficulty: 600 acres, easy to slightly moderate

Highlights: wildlife, hiking, pond, kayaking, cycling and running trails

Summary: This 600-acre park protects the largest freshwater marsh on the middle Charles River. This park is a great spot for birdwatchers, and it also features eskers, or riverbeds formed inside a glacier; drumlins, long hills formed by glaciers; and Kendrick pond.

Website: Cutler Park Reservation

Hiking Trails Map: Cutler Park Reservation Trail Map

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Named for the State legislator, Leslie B. Cutler, who helped the Department of Conservation and Recreation of Massachusetts acquire the land, Cutler Park has some hidden historical significance many visitors may not be aware of.

Soil was removed from what is now known as Kendrick Pond to fill in the area now known as the Back Bay of Boston.  And, if you look closely near the Kendrick St entrance of the park you can still see some of the old tracks of the railroad that was used to transport the soil to Boston.

Although I’m not sure, this tunnel may have been used to transport some of the soil, rocks or logs from the park.  But, now it is used to support the railroad that runs adjacent to the park.

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Mist was settling upon Kenrick Pond as I arrived at the park.  It created the perfect backdrop for photos of the landscape and swans at Kendrick Pond (aka Cutler Pond).

Cutler Park has a diverse assortment of wildlife and birds.  Although I did not see them during my visit, deer and fox are said to be present there. I did see a few other critters, though.

It was spring during my visit so there were a lot of babies at the park.  I got to see some goslings and cygnets with their parents.

You’ll hear a variety of birds tweeting (offline).

 

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or getting a quick bite

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or just chilling in the abundant trees at Cutler Park.

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The trails at Cutler Park are mainly easy with a few slight inclines.  The signature part of the trails is the boardwalk along the marshy area.

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But, there’s something about the tree lined dirt paths that gives the park a “country” feel despite the fact it is located deep within the suburbs.

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Cutler Park is popular with kayakers, runners, cyclists and people in some unusual water vessels.

What truly makes the park a hidden jewel are the beautiful views.

The wide paths and pond make Cutler Park a dog friendly park.

The way Casey, a 10 year old Yellow Lab, fetched could give any of  the Sox outfielders a run for their money.

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Say goodbye to Teddy, a one and a half year old Golden Doodle mix, from Cutler Park!

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Bare Cove Park (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Drive, Hingham, MA

Cost: Free

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are 2 parking lots.  The larger parking lot located at Bare Cove Drive has room for about 100 cars.  There is also a smaller parking lot off Beal St

Trail Size/Difficulty: 484 acres, easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, there are paved trails but the side trails may not be accessible to all

Dog Friendly: Yes (see website for rules for taking dogs to the park)

Highlights: wildlife, birds, nature, lake, easy trails, cycling, running, scenic, museum

Website: Bare Cove Park

Map of Park: Bare Cove Park Map

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Once the site of a ammunition depot, Bare Cove Park is now a 484 acre park full of wildlife, scenic views and trails for running, cycling or just walking.

There is a variety of birds and other wildlife at the park.  Foxes, coyotes and even deer have been reportedly seen at the park.  So, do keep this in mind if you do bring your dog.  I didn’t see any aforementioned animals at the park.  But, I did see a diverse group of birds there.

Granted, I did have to go off the beaten paths to view some of these birds, particularly the hawks and kestrel.  But, you should see lots of cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and other smaller birds in your travels, even on the main trails.

The main trails are paved and wise in most parts.  So there is lots of room for cyclists, runners and people walking with their dogs.

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One of the many great things about Bare Cove is that it is beautiful all year.  You might think that it wouldn’t be very pretty during the early spring time.  You’d be wrong!  But, seriously, the natural colors and the trees are majestic.  Even the multi colored ones. Alt If you are looking to see plants and flowers and other colorful views I do recommend visiting in the mid to late spring, summer or, of course, fall.

One of the hidden historical aspects of the park is its military past.  The area was used to produce and distribute munitions and other military devices. Until 1971, military goods were produced here.

In an effort to commemorate the service of the people who worked at these depots, there is a small museum with exhibits, photos, military tools and other gadgets that were made at the depot.

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There is also a viewing area to watch videos and DVDs about the history of the depot and how Weymouth and Hingham, MA contributed to the war effort.

There are two monuments outside of the museum.

One of the monuments is dedicated to all of the workers who helped the war efforts.

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The next memorial is dedicated to the workers who lost their lives when a ship they were unloading, the USS FY 415, exploded and sank on May 11, 1944, when signal rockets caught fire.

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Another interesting part of the area near the museum is that the posts which the bots tied onto when they originally unloaded their munitions at the depot are located in front of the museum.

There is also a fire museum nearby.  During my visit, a fire truck from the museum was on display at the park.

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But, the hidden history doesn’t end there.  A sign posted on Bare Cove Path indicates that an Almshouse (called “Town Farm”) used to be there.

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In short, almshouses were a place for the indigent or those who could not care for themselves.  To find out more about Almshouse, you can refer to my previous blog post about Almshouses.

With its winding trails and access to water, Bare Cove Park is a great place to take your dog.

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Kevin, a 2 year old Boston Terrier, posed for me during his walk around the park.

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Cooper, a 9 year old Golden Retriever, played fetch in the water during his visit.

 

Bear Hole Reservoir Trail (West Springfield, MA)

Dates Of Visits: December 26 & 27, 2018

Locations: Bear Hole Rd, West Springfield, MA and 175 Bridle Path Rd, West Springfield, MA

Hours: Open daily, dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a parking area at the end of Bear Hole Rd for about 20 cars

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1,700 acres, 2.6 mile gravel and dirt loop, easy with a few average inclines

Handicapped Accessible: No, some of the trails are rocky, unpaved and steep

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: vernal pools, waterfall, running, hiking, cycling, dog friendly (leashed), waterfall, wildlife, scenic views

Map: Bear Hole Reservation Trail Map (myhikes.com)

Websites: Bear Hole Reservoir Trail (alltrails.com)

Bear Hole Reservior Trail (myhikes.com)

Nestled at the end of what may seem like any other side street off Dewey St in West Springfield, MA, Bear Hole Reservoir Trail is truly a hidden gem.  If not for a relative who clued me into this hidden treasure, I may not have known it existed.  In fact, the first time I drove to the reservoir, I wasn’t quite sure I was going the correct way.  I’m sure many people drive by the main road that leads to the reservoir without realizing it.

Once thought to be the home of the Woronocos, a sub-group of the
Pocumtucks, Bear Hole Reservoir Trail has many natural wonders.Bear Hole Reservoir, which was built in 1956, was meant to deliver drinking water to the residents of West Springfield.  However, according to a 2012 report states the Bear Hole Reservoir and Treatment Facility has been inactive since 2011 although the West Springfield Works Department do still monitor the water supply.  Reports of seepage, poor construction and spalling concrete are a few of the reasons the reservoir is not in use for the town’s water supply.  However, it seems like it could be used as a water supply if there were drought like conditions or the main source of water was compromised.

The first attraction at you will probably see at Bear Hole is the waterfall and stream that leads to the head of the reservoir.

A variety of wildlife, such as deer, bears and even the occasional beaver have been reported and photographed at Bear Hole.

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I found this beaver chewing on a piece of vegetation when I went off the main trail.  There is a worn trail off the main trail by the waterfall, which is part of the Paucatuck Brook, where you can walk closer to the stream of water.  Although I didn’t see any deer, I did find evidence of them.

The head of the reservoir, which was partially frozen due to the cold temperatures, and the views along the way are a sight worth seeing.  The short hike is definitely worth it.

The tree-lined dirt trail is easy.  The only steep part is the incline from the front part of the reservoir onto the second part of the loop.  It may be better for some people to backtrack from the way you came as this trail is easier.  But, it will be longer than taking the loop back.

There are lots of pretty views along the trails, especially this time of the year with the icy vernal ponds.  I suppose that’s kind of ironic to type that.  But, I have gained a deeper appreciation over time for the skeletal tree structures and the icy bodies of water.  Bear Hole is proof that beauty does not only exist during the warmer seasons.

Leashed pets, and maybe some well behaved dogs off leash, are allowed at Bear Hole.  One of the dogs I saw on the trail is Roxie, a 3 year old Basenji (Africa’s “barkless dog”).

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I look forward to bringing more of Hidden New England to you.  If you would like to learn more about the hidden gems of New England, please take a moment to check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hiddennewengland/ and like or follow me there.  I plan on posting links and other information on my Facebook page that may not be included in my blog posts.