Sunday, November 10, 2013

Great Brook Farm State Park

The last weekend in September we went over to Carlisle to Great Brook Farm State Park. I went for a run with Ansel and then met up with Big and Lil' Dude at the ice cream stand. Big and Lil' checked out all the animals while waiting for us to get there. They checked out the bunnies, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Farms and petting zoos are just not for me. They trigger my allergies way too much.

Dairy Cows

 After some ice cream from the stand, we went for a "small" hike. I had already run 3+ miles with the dog. I knew that the trails were definitely muddy and some were washed out. So we avoided those areas. We hiked the south eastern section of the park near and around the Meadow Pond.   

Before we started out, we encountered was a huge group of big fluffy dogs in the parking lot. Some were husky-like and they all looked eager to be out. A gentleman told me that they were going to mush. I thought he was joking! We ran into them on the trail, attached to harnesses that were attached to mountain bikes. They were moving very quickly. Those dogs must have been well trained. I know that Ansel would more than likely just head off trail if I attached him to my bike.  

Ansel on a rock on the Keyes Loop Trail

Unfortunately, we made some poor choices and we ended up hiking much longer than we wanted. Is that really a bad thing?  This is a park I know really, really well. I've hiked, biked, skied, and jogged through it. So there was no worry about getting lost. The soggy areas really were a bit of a downer though.

Meadow Pond from the Pine Point Loop
Pine Point Loop
Cut corn fields
Pine Point Loop before a wash out
As we rounded the corner back to the grassy fields, we saw several people stop and pause. The trail was swamped pretty good. I already had damp feet and so did the dog so I attempted to find the shallowest path. Big Dude ended up removing his shoes and going through barefoot with Lil' Dude on his back. I guess the water was quite cold. From there we slogged back to the parking area.

During our wandering we had seen signs posted on trees for "something". The acronym was not one we recognized. As we walked back to the parking area we were passed by some runners who were wearing race bibs. We could hear cheering at the finish. We asked the crossing guard at the road what was going on. The run was for CORD USA, an agency that  helps  improve the economy and quality of life in less fortunate in America, India and Sri Lanka. There were people all ages running to raise money. It was a small run but I later learned that they raised about $10,000.           

View from the parking lot to the barn
Where: Pine Point Loop with other off shoots, Great Brook Farm State Park, Carlisle, Massachusetts

Directions: From Rt. 128: Take exit 31B. Follow Route 225 West for 8 miles to the Carlisle center rotary, then turn right on Lowell St. (following the sign to Chelmsford.) Fern's Market is on the corner. The Park entrance is 2 miles ahead on the right. The Park Office (984 Lowell St) is just beyond the entrance also on the right. Make right hand turn onto North Road. Parking area is 1/2 mile down on left.
From the West (Route 2): Follow to Rt. 495 North. Use directions below.
From the North: Take 495 South to Exit 34. Follow Route 110 West for .6 miles to Chelmsford Center, continue through light onto Route 4 South for 1 mile, then take right fork onto Concord Road towards Carlisle. The Park office is 2 miles ahead on the left. The Park is just beyond the office , go left on North Rd, parking lot is 1/2 mile down on the left.
From the South: Take Rt. 495 North to exit 32 (Westford & To Route 225). At the bottom of the ramp go right. At the lights go straight through. At the T intersection go left (onto Rt. 225). Follow Rt. 225 till you reach the center of Carlisle (small rotary with monument in the middle). Go 3/4 of the way around the the rotary onto Lowell Street towards Chelmsford. The Entrance to the park is two miles down the road on the right. The Park Office (984 Lowell St) is just beyond the entrance also on the right. 
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Labor Day Hike: Bear Brook State Park Beaver Pond Trail

Waaay back in September, we went on our annual Labor Day weekend camping trip. I came home and edited some photos and then life got really busy. So now that I've gone on several more hikes and have a few more posts to do, I figured I should finish this one!

We camped at Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire. It's just outside of Manchester in Allenstown. It is the largest developed state park in New Hampshire and I definitely can see why it's a favorite for many. There were trails for biking and hiking. Water for swimming, small craft boating, and fishing. There's a museum and archery range too. And of course camping! If you look at the map of the park, we were camping down by Beaver Pond.

We chose our sites at the end of a road and clustered together. With small kids we like to be away from the main camp so we're not disturbing others and so that the kiddos can have a full night sleep. One family had to cancel last minute due to family illness so it actually ended up being only us with Lil' Dude and about 4 friends.

We really tried to relax this trip. I find it a bit more challenging as a mother to relax while camping or hiking. It seems that I worry more and stress about much of the trip. I think I'm getting better at it as each trip get's easier.
Fungi Covered Log- so peaceful!
Now for the important stuff... hiking!

Since we were down by the Beaver Pond, we decided to strike out for a small loop hike. It was a warm sunny day with big fluffy clouds in the sky. My friend offered to take Ansel so that I could take photos while Big Dude carried Lil' Dude in his pack.
Thanks Mel!
The trail was mostly flat terrain that snaked in between Spruce Pond and Beaver Pond. The water on Spruce Pond was so reflective. We all spent some time there taking photos and enjoying the views.

Spruce Pond
Spruce Pond
Photo Taking
The trail gave us plenty of opportunities to look out for water fowl and signs of beaver.
A little push might be fun.... maybe not with their cameras
Beaver Pond
Since we were close to wet land areas, it almost goes without saying that we would have board walks. They were in a bit of disrepair though so you needed to watch your step. It was neat to walk among the cattails that were taller than me. Tons of dragonflies zipped this way and that.  
Board walk
Cat Tails
Board Walk
View from Board Walk towards Beaver Pond
Some of the board walks were worse than others....
Something's missing here
The trail was fairly well traveled so there were only a few times when we worried about getting lost. The trail had several unofficial off shoots and at one point we actually did go off trail and get turned around. Fortunately, we had the map and followed the water back to the trail. 
Trail Sign at the Junction of Beaver Pond Trail and Lynx Trail
At that time, the caterpillar life was very active. I was fascinated by these cocoons where the leaves were rolled up around the caterpillar. I have yet to figure out what type of caterpillar they are.
A Cocoon
Soon after the trail sign we saw this lovely heron just resting in the water. I always get excited when I see them. I know that they aren't that uncommon but they make me think about when I was in the Everglades attempting to learn about different water fowl. I still am terrible at identifying birds. 
We made it safely back to the swimming beach at the campground. Just before we got there I had to take this picture of Mel's boots. These were boots that she got off of me. They were my first true pair of hiking boots from L.L. Bean. I got them when I was around 12 years old for Girl Scout camp. Teal and purple have always been a favorite color combo for me.  Well needless to say, they have seen many miles and it looks as if Mel might need to invest in a new pair.
Good bye my friends!

The trail was easy to hike though definitely bring a map and pay attention to blazes. I definitely don't  recommend it for strollers or toddlers that are free roaming (easy to fall into the water) but parents with carriers and of course the unencumbered adult will find this a breeze. 

Where: Beaver Brook Trail, Bear Brook State Park, Allenstown, New Hampshire

Directions:  From I-93:New Hampshire Exit 9N onto Route 3/28 North and follow signs to Bear Brook State Park. From I-95: Route 4 West to Route 28 South and follow signs to Bear Brook State Park.                               
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mount Agamenticus - Little Dude's First Mountain


So on the same day that we went to the Rachel Carson Nature Preserve we decided to climb Mount Agamenticus. It was a pleasant day compared to the heat wave that was going on the days prior. We were getting ready to head for home and didn't want to shop or go to the beach so we decided to hike.

I've climbed Agamenticus several times now. It's a rather easy hike to do. You can even drive to the summit if you want to. . We loaded up the car with dog, baby carrier, Little Dude and my camera.We didn't exactly have directions but we knew there were signs for it off of Route 1 and it was a nice day for a drive. We found the auto road easily and turned up it. We parked at the first lot we noticed and grabbed a trail guide from the kiosk.

Kiosk at parking lot
The trail heads and trails were well labeled and very straightforward. We checked out the map and decided to follow the Ring Trail to Witch Hazel Trail to the Summit. We entered the woods and immediately wondered if we should have grabbed the mosquito spray. I'm sensing a pattern here. I've been a hiker for most of my life, you would think that I would be prepared. I'm not sure if you noticed but this is the THIRD hike in a row where we forgot bug spray. Fortunately, the bugs were not as bad as the morning hike. 
Ring Trail
The ring trail was a nice easy walk through the woods. Easy of course for me because I was carrying a camera and a dog lead. Big Dude had a heavier load. It was his first hike with any elevation gain carrying a baby. I had carried him the previous year in my soft carrier. And the last time Big Dude had carried a pack heavier than a day pack was when we climbed Owl's Head in 2005. He managed just fine though.
Ring Trail
Little Dude was looking around at everything he could see. It's so neat to see him experiencing the world like this. Hopefully, we can teach him an appreciation for nature and being outdoors. 

The trails were superbly maintained. We came to one spot where the rains had caused some erosion. Even then, it was easily navigated and tidy.

Erosion on the Ring Trail
We came to the summit by way of Witch Hazel. I do love emerging from a dark woods to the sun and lots of views.  

Nearing the summit on Witch Hazel
The trail had changed since my last hike there. They actually had cleared lots of the trees and were rerouting the trail. I had noticed regrowth areas on the ring trail as well. I'm sure this mountain is well traveled and trails need to have a rest once in a while. It was a bit confusing though. The signs were not so obvious and I didn't feel that the trails match up with the map.

Hiking to the summit on new trail
We made it to the summit and let Little Dude run free. We circled the Learning Lodge as they don't allow dogs and went up onto one of the platforms. From there we could look back towards Short and Long Sand Beaches and could even see Nubble Light House.

 We went from the high platform down to an observation tower. Little Dude loved running across the field.
First summit

From the double platform you could see to the west and all the way to Mount Washington.
Map of view       

While we were on the platform we noticed that storm clouds were racing in. The change in the sky was pretty obvious to us. And we decided to move along. We could see rain over NH and it was only a matter of time before it reached us.

Change of skies within a minute
We debated about which route to take back. I'm not a huge fan of hiking the same trail back down as I came if there is a possibility to do a loop. We decided to head towards the parking lot at the summit and see what we could see. Along the way we stopped just below the fire tower to admire a memorial for David Hilton who was a fire warden, skier and historian. I forgot to mention that this used to be a ski hill. Granted, I don't usually think Southern Maine when I think skiing, especially on the coast!

David Hilton Memorial
We spotted the Blueberry Bluff trail across the parking lot and went straight for it. Big Dude seemed to be getting nervous about a storm. So we hoofed it to the trail.

Summit Parking Lot
Trail to Blueberry Bluff
Trail Sign
Views near Blueberry Bluff
We wandered down Blueberry Bluff and immediately I saw the blueberry bushes. Big Dude was in such a hurry he missed them. I snagged a few and let the Little Dude taste his first wild Maine blueberry. He didn't seem to be a big fan.

We re-entered the forest and moved rather quickly down the mountain. The trail was rocky but not steep. The clouds had definitely come in and the air was changing. I decided that we need to get a longer lead for Ansel. He can't be off leash but sometimes directions that are easier for him to climb are not so easy for me.

Blueberry Bluff
Big and Little coming down carefully
As we got closer to the Ring Trail we found more trail re-routing. But again, the trails were well marked.
You can't get there from here
We got back on the ring trail and followed east. Along the way we came across book pages that were laminated and stapled to boards. We had seen them on the Witch Hazel trail as well. The animal art seems fun and I would love to learn what book this is. 

Books and hiking (two of my favorite hobbies)
We crossed the auto road and then hiked a short distance back up the mountain to our car. Just before we got back to our car we found this guy....

At this point, the mosquitoes made their reappearance. We got Little Dude in his car seat and gave the pup some water. I drove us up to the top of the auto road just so I could say we did it and then we went off to dinner.

It was an easy hike and looking at the map, I can see several ways to make it more challenging. It would be lovely for a picnic lunch to just look out over the Atlantic or New England.

Where: Mount Agamenticus, Cape Neddick, Maine

Web Info

Directions: Please note GPS is unreliable at this point in time

  • Take I-95 North into Maine. Take Exit 7, York (the last exit before the tollbooth for the Maine Turnpike). 
  • Follow signs to Route 1 North (keeping right after the exit ramp). Turn left onto Route 1 North.
  • Approximately 3.5 miles after turning onto Route 1, turn left on Mountain Road. (Across from Flo’s Hotdog Stand) 
  • Follow Mountain Road for approximately 4 miles to a stop sign after crossing the interstate. 
  • Turn right and continue on Mountain Road for approximately two and a half miles from the interstate overpass. 
  • There is a gravel parking lot on the right and a paved road leading to the summit of Mount Agamenticus. Green fence posts at the entrance say “Mount A Summit”. If the road turns to gravel, you’ve gone a hundred meters too far. 
  • Turn right and drive up to the summit or park in the gravel lot to hike up. Trail maps are available at the trailheads.


Posted by Picasa