The Nature Trail And Cranberry Bog (Foxboro, MA)

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Date Of Visit: May 18, 2019

Location: Patriot Place, behind Bass Pro Shops, 1 Bass Pro Dr, Foxborough, MA

Parking: there is parking available in front of Bass Pro Shop and additional parking usually reserved for visitors to the New England Patriot games across from the shop

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Trail size/difficulty: .6 miles, easy

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic views, wildlife, easy trails

When one thinks of Patriot Place a cranberry bog and nature walk are probably not the first things that come to mind.  Yet, nestled right behind Bass Pro Shops at Patriot Place is a hidden trail with an array of wildlife and pretty views.

The trail, which can be easy to miss, is located right behind Bass Pro Shop at the end of the Patriot Place Plaza. But, before you begin the trail, there is a sitting area with a bench to rest on.

The .6 miles is an easy trail that has a pair of boardwalks and  dirt trails.

The boardwalk offers a great place to view birds and turtles.

But turtles aren’t the only aquatic critters at the trail.  I noticed a few snakes (Northern Water snakes) along the trail.  I thought it was funny this snake was on the side of the trail, yet nobody noticed as they walked along the trail.  While Northern Water Snakes are not venomous, they do have quite a nasty bite.  Fortunately, I do not speak from experience.  But I have read they can be dangerous if provoked.  They”re cute as a button though!

I also saw this animal there.  But, he or she didn’t move much, though.

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Leashed dogs are welcome to the trail.  Kobe, a 9 month old King Charles Cavalier, enjoyed the trail while I was visiting.

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North River Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

Dates Of Visits: March 16 & 17, 2019

Location: 200 Main St., Marshfield, MA

Hours: Open daily dawn til dusk (office is open Mon-Fri, 9:00-4:00)

Cost: Free for members, Nonmembers: $4 Adults, $3 Seniors (65+), $3 Children (2-12)

Parking: There is free parking for about 30 to 40 cars

Trail Size/Difficulty: 225 acres, 5 miles of trails (universally accessible: 0.5-mile loop)/ Easy.  See website for additional information.

Handicapped Accessible: The Fern Sensory Trail is universally accessible.  But the other trails are not handicapped accessible.

Dog Friendly: No, MASS Audubon trails are not dog friendly

Website: North River Wildlife Sanctuary

Map: North River Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Highlights: wildlife, wide variety of birds, observation deck, sensory trail

Summary: Easy trails, a variety of wildlife and birds (with one special bird), boardwalks and an observation deck are just some of the features of this park

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It’s not everyday that you see an eagle.  At least not in the suburbs of Massachusetts.  But, that’s exactly what happened during a visit to one of the hidden New England treasures in Marshfield, MA.

In trurgh, Marshfield is home to a lot of different wildlife.  You may find beavers in some of the rivers and ponds.  There are coyotes, wolves and deer in the area.  But, eagles are a different matter.

While I was walking along the River Loop Trail, a .5 miles trail that loops around the field across Summer St, I noticed a very large bird soaring above the treetops.  I froze at first, not believing what I had seen.  A Bald Eagle, not a common bird in these parts, was indeed flying above me. It’s unusual to see birds like this in Marshfield.  Later during my visit, one of the workers at the Audubon informed me that an eagle had a nest in that area.

There are a variety of other birds at the sanctuary such as cardinals, blue jays, red winged blackbirds and chickadees.

I have to make a confession though.  I sort of cheated.  There are bird feeders located in front of the office which made it easier to photograph some of these birds.  But, I was able to photograph a lot of the birds on the trails.

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The trails are fairly easy to negotiate.  In fact, the only issue I had walking on them had more to do with the time of the year I visited.  The temperatures had risen melting much of the snow which created mud puddles, then froze over making it it a little icy.  But, this should not be an issue now.

The first trail at the sanctuary is the Sensory Trail.  There are educational exhibits along the trail such as a display that shows examples of needles and bark.  Visitors can touch the display and see the difference between the two materials.  There is an exhibit that shows the lifecycle of a butterfly along the trail.  The sanctuary also has solar panels which they use for energy.  There are boardwalks along the trail as the area is rather marshy.  Unfortunately, I could not access all of the trails on the Sensory Trail due to the flooded and muddy nature of the trail.

There is one tricky part to accessing the other trails at North River Wildlife Sanctuary.  To access the observation deck and the other trails that lead up to it, you must first cross Summer St (see attached link to the ap of the sanctuary for more details).  It can be a busy road depending on when you visit.  Do use caution while crossing the street.

Once you cross Summer Street, you will see a field with a nesting area, which I don’t usually see birds using, and a trail that loops around the area.  You can also view the aptly named North River from the top of the area.

If you’re lucky, you may see a few chipmunks and red squirrels along the Red Maple Loop which is accessible off the main trail (the River Loop trail).

The most popular attraction (besides the eagles) is the observation deck off the again aptly named North River View trail.  The observation deck offers pretty views of the North River and the surrounding Marshfield neighborhood.

As I was leaving the sanctuary I did see one hopeful sign.  Spring is indeed springing!

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Similar Places I Have Visited:

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (Marshfield, MA)

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield, MA)

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.