Saturday, March 25, 2023

North Buzzy Brook Trail and McLaughlin Road, Sunkhaze Meadows NWR (Milford)

The north side of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge contains two trails that appear on maps and the Friends of Sunkhaze Meadows website but not on the official USFWS website - the North and South Buzzy Brook Trails.  Both trails are accessed from the gated McLaughlin Road.   

A private logging road leads to McLaughlin Road.  The road posts the ominous sign pictured below but is not posted as no trespassing.  Having witnessed logging activity on the road that day, I felt the risk of being locked in was small as I hiked out to explore the area.

The unmarked North Buzzy Brook Trail splits off from McLaughlin Road after 0.2 miles.   I hiked down the trail, following snowshoe tracks until I encountered a wide stream.  Maps for the area, including both GaiaGPS and USFS topo maps, show the trail as an out-and-back trail, but the Friends of Sunkhaze website has a map showing a trail leading south connecting to South Buzzy Brook Trail.   With that in mind, I took what I thought was a trail and headed south into the woods, only to quickly realize I was following a game trail. 

Figuring I might be able to link up with the south trail anyway, I hiked 1/4 mile through dense woods before reaching a broad clearing occupied by a wetland.   At this point I turned around and headed back.

Once back on McLaughlin Road, I hiked south for a little over a mile before reaching a section where the road was washed away.  At that point I hiked out to the car.  

The McLaughlin Road section of trail turned out to be the best part of the hike, as I observed significant evidence of moose activity along the road (scat and tracks).   The road also serves as a snowmobile trail and was well packed as a result, although downed trees and the washed out section appear to have prevented recent snowmobile activity.  

I hiked a total distance of 4.25 miles.  

Once back at the car, I turned around to drive out and one of the gates that had been open when I came in was now shut.   Thankfully the gate was not locked and I was able to get past it, but for this reason I cannot recommend this trail.   

McLaughlin Road

North Buzzy Brook Trail

Wetland encountered when I tried hiking off trail

Bird (gray jay?) observed from McLaughlin Road near washed out section

Tracks from my hike

Sign warning that road may close

USGS topo map (from Avenza) showing trails as out-and-back

Map from Friends of Sunkhaze Website

Friday, March 24, 2023

Bald Mountain (Dedham)

We did a quick hike up Bald Mountain tonight after work.  I love this hike, it's close and a great weeknight workout.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Maine Forest Yurts (Durham)

We spent the weekend glamping at Maine Forest Yurts in Durham.  MFY's four well equipped yurts sit on a 100 acre wooded parcel of land abutting Runaround Pond.  Guests renting yurts can use several miles of trails crisscrossing the property through the woods and down to the pond.   In the summer there are also canoes available for guests.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Great Meadows, Assabet River, and Parker River National Wildlife Refuges (Massachusetts)

My daughter was spending her spring break in Massachusetts so I met up with her and spent part of our time together visiting national wildlife refuges.  

Great Meadows is a 3,850 acre wildlife refuge primarily located in Sudbury and Concord.  85% of the refuge is water and wetlands.  We visited the Concord section of the refuge Saturday afternoon, hiking a mile on the Dike Trail and climbing an observation tower.  The refuge was surprisingly busy for a cold overcast March day.   

The 2,230 acre Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge is also located in Sudbury on land previously owned by the military.   The refuge has over 15 miles of trails through a variety of forested habitats.   It also contains old ammunition bunkers from when it was a military installation.  We hiked an enjoyable 2.8 miles and enjoyed watching a pair of geese swimming close to shore.

Sunday morning we went to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newbury.  Parker River is a 4,662 acre coastal refuge with sand beaches, dunes, shrubs and thickets, bogs, swamps, fresh and saltwater marshes, mudflats and rivers.  

We arrived in time to watch the sunrise over the ocean.  This is one of the nicest national wildlife refuges I've been to in New England.  There are numerous board walks leading to the beach, a few short hikes, and an excellent visitor center.  Our favorite hike was the1.3 mile Hellcat Boardwalk Trail, which is almost entirely boardwalk except where it crosses over the refuge road.  The trail leads to three different overlooks that showcase different ecosystems.  Like Assabet, Parker River became surprisingly crowded while we were there despite temperatures in the 30s.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Kanokolus Bog Preserve (Unity)

My son and I went snowshoeing at the Kanokolus Bog Preserve in Unity this morning.  The 189 acre preserve is managed by the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust and is an example of a raised level bog ecosystem.  

The preserve’s parking lot had not been plowed so we parked on Route 202 and walked in.  The trail was covered by close to a foot of undisturbed snow due to two recent snowstorms, providing a muted, isolated feel to our hike.  Several animal tracks crisscrossed the trail.  We took the Winter Bog Access trail to ITS-85, a snowmobile trail which bisects the preserve and provided temporary relief from breaking trail.   We hiked a total of 1.25 miles.