A wonderful area to explore is the Town’s Richard Emmet Conservation Land and Mass. Audubon’s Nashoba Brook Sanctuary. Together they comprise over 500 acres of protected open space in the southern part of Westford, and you can take many walks there, each time in a new area.
The 336-acre Town-owned Richard Emmet Land, which is administered by the Westford Conservation Commission, is the largest piece. It is named in honor of Richard Emmet, Westford resident, who literally “wrote the book” on this area. Dick is the author of Westford Bird Notes, 1951-2002 (available at the J.V. Fletcher library). In this book, Dick provides detailed descriptions of the 170 bird species which he has encountered in this area. An historical analysis of species abundance and habitat preferences gives a rare glimpse into what has been happening with Westford’s bird populations during this fifty year period. Dick has documented that many migrant species have declined, while many resident species seemed to have remained relatively constant. Dick was the first person to discover the rare Goshawk family which has nested here for the past several years. Much of this land was graveled and is in the process of recovering to forest. It features an approximately twenty-acre dug pond, which is stocked with bass, and is used for fishing by both birds and humans. One cannot reach the pond by car, and swimming is not allowed there. In spring, wildflowers which thrive in sandy soil, such as rabbits foot clover, and wild indigo abound. Vine Brook and Nashoba Brook cross this land. In the brooks’ associated wetlands, plants such as marsh marigold can be seen.
The Nashoba Brook Sanctuary, owned by Mass. Audubon, abuts the Richard Emmet Land, and is well connected by trails. This 174-acre piece of land is more heavily forested, and includes a beautiful hay field on Texas Rd., where bluebirds and tree swallows can be seen at their nest boxes. Nonset Brook and its associated wetlands cross this land. The Wilson Land, a 30 acre portion of Audubon’s land, was donated to Audubon by the Westford Conservation Trust in 2009. The Wilson land is well connected by trails. This is beautiful, heavily forested high land. Each habitat area boasts its own plants, mammals and birds. Mammals seen in the area include foxes, coyotes, fisher, and otter.
There are three parking areas to access this land. The easiest way to start is to park at the end of Trailside Way, which is off Powers Rd. across from Westford Earth Materials. Drive to the end of Trailside, half way around the cul-de-sac at the end, and then onto a short dirt road which leads to a parking area and kiosk. Take the trail into the woods which will lead you to Nashoba (Kennedy) pond. You can circle the pond and back again for a fairly short walk of about two miles. The trail is fairly level, but rough and rocky. You will see other trails off of this one which you can explore, and you will also notice the Audubon land trails taking off from the northern side of the pond. Another place to park is in the Mass. Audubon parking area on Concord Rd., across from Banbury Drive. From here, you can access one section of the Mass. Audubon land, for a short loop walk to the west (about one mile), to Nashoba Brook and back. Or, you can continue straight ahead which will bring you to the parking area off of Trailside Way, and a trail into the Wilson Land. The Wilson Land can also be accessed by a trailhead on Preservation Way. The third parking area is near the end of Texas Rd., on the right. From here you can access the other part of the Mass. Audubon land, crossing Nonset Brook on long bog bridges, built by Eagle Scouts, Ryan Dromgoole and Anthony Capriccio. Happy Trails!
October 24, 2016
Emmet Woods – Mass Audubon announced the opening of a new large area of trails they call “Emmet Woods”. This area is located on the other side of rte 225 across from the Nashoba Brook Trails Parcel. The trust has hiked there several times in the past when it was the property of Dick and Alan Emmet. Audubon has made some changes.They placed attractive trail markings and also selected some new trail names that honor the generosity of the Emmets. This is a wonderful network of trails that you will hopefully enjoy any time of year!
Emmet Woods trail map & brochure
Learn more about Dick & Alan Emmet from Mass Audubon
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