The first parcel of land donated to the Conservation Trust was the Acker property on Stony Brook. This 15-acre parcel is just downstream from the dam under the Depot Street bridge, sandwiched between the railroad bed and Stony Brook.
Parking is ample across Depot Street, at Stony Brook Conservation Land. The trail head is 180 yards in from the Depot Street railroad crossing. A concrete railroad post with the vertically inscribed number “307” is 50 feet before the trail head, and the trail head itself is marked with a hiker medallion on an oak tree.
The Acker trail meanders along Stony Brook for approximately six tenths of a mile. The trail is marked with vertical yellow lines or circular yellow discs on the occasional tree, but the path is well defined. Following a number of ice storm tree falls, the trail was impassible in a number of spots up until the fall of ’98. Once you find its relatively obscure entry point, the Acker trail will not disappoint.
There are great viewing spots of Stony Brook along the way, and of the geese, great blue herons, ducks, and beavers that inhabit this virtually untouched waterway. Near the midpoint, the trail passes through a cathedral of white pines, where sunlight never reaches the ground so there is no undergrowth. It is a peaceful, shady spot that is in stark contrast with the rest of the woodland.
There is a large beaver dam about three-quarters of the way to the end, which merely slows the water flow and creates a pond-like basin behind it. Scout Veronica Chen in 2021 constructed boardwalks where the higher water level encroached on the trail. A hiker can be startled by the sudden, loud warning splashes the beavers make when they sense danger. About four-fifths of the way along the trail there is a remarkable reminder of the inexhaustible energy of the beaver. Several huge poplar trees have been felled by beavers. Some have been caught up in nearby trees and are suspended diagonally, miscalculations on the part of the engineers of the animal world. The bark of the poplar is a favorite meal of the beaver, evidenced by a number of the fallen trees scraped clean of their bark.
Through the very generous permission of the Dean family, the Westford Conservation Trust has been given access across the Dean parcel that abuts the Acker land. This allows for some terrific scenery, including the beaver dam with its cascading waterfall. The soothing sounds of the falling water combined with the scenic surroundings make this spot a tranquil oasis far from the maddening crowd. A bridge was replaced here with an impressive structure by Scout Surya Patil in 2019.
A short path to the left leads to a 19th century compromise between railroads and farmers. A cattle pass runs under the rail bed, allowing livestock to safely reach the brook.
The Genova parcel, across Stony Brook Road, follows the railroad downstream, ending in a bluff overlooking an impressive bend in the brook.
Benches have been added along the way. The trail extends beyond the Dean parcel into the DeSilva land. Altogether this land is clearly a bright jewel in the crown of Westford’s preserved woodland and open spaces. It provides an opportunity to experience nature and its woodland wildlife unencumbered by man, and without having to leave town.
LocationThe trail head is 180 yards in from the Depot Street railroad crossing. A concrete railroad post with the vertically inscribed number "307" is 50 feet before the trail head, and the trail head itself is marked with a hiker medallion on an oak tree.
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- Wildlife Viewing