Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Close Look at a Cranberry Bog

I am always fascinated by Cranberry Bog's. Cranberries are one of the only three fruits that are native to North America, they grown in the wild on long vines in sandy bogs and marshes. In the U.S., Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, responsible for half of the U.S. production. Massachusetts is the second largest U.S. producer, small volumes of production occur in Southern Argentina, Chile, and the Netherlands.  It is fascinating to visit a bog throughout the year to view how this tasty fruit is harvested. In New England, during the Fall, the bog is flooded with up to 18 inches of water the night before the berries are to be harvested. Each berry has a tiny pocket of air that allows it to float to the surface of the water.

The Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog at Patriot Place is home to the last remaining active cranberry bog in the town of Foxborough, MA. You can witness the bog throughout the year to learn about the cycle of a cranberry, we visited in the beginning of April. We are excited to go back in the fall to see the bog as it becomes harvest time. 

The trail is a half-mile trail through a working cranberry bog, wetland pond, and woods. The bog itself is a 32-acre cranberry wetland system with paved trails through a protected habitat with native wildlife. 

It is located at the south entrance of Patriot Place, just before Bass Pro Shops. Follow signs for “The Nature Trail at Patriot Place." Admission is free. The trail is open from dawn to dusk. 

Our Aussie enjoying Bass Pro Shop
Dogs are allowed on the trail, they are also welcomed at the Bass Pro Shop, Bass Pro Shop hosts special Dog Day events. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Hidden Gem

The Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve is nestled in the scenic coastal town of Niantic Connecticut. The nature preserve spans over 400 acres of varied terrain. There are several miles of hiking trails. 

Our hike took place a day after rain and the wet moss that blanketed the preserve made us feel like we entered an enchanted forest. The preserve abuts Clark's Pond and the Niantic River, it is a unique and beautiful place.

The miles of trails that run throughout the preserve, provide endless opportunities for birding and wildlife observations. We could not resist pulling out our camera. What impressed us most was the unique rock formations and vegetation.

Monotropa uniflora

Also impressive was the Quartz pit, what a treat to see quartz in abundance amongst the borders and beautiful fauna, we also stumbled upon a rare find, the Monotropa uniflora, also known as ghost plant (or ghost pipe), Indian pipe or corpse plant. 

Southern pine bark beetle trap

We were fascinated by a trap we came across, its purpose is to trap the southern pine bark beetle. This invasive beetle preys upon pine trees, an infestation of this beetle would be devastating to the preserve. This finding provided an opportunity for our children to see first hand the efforts to ward off a devastating invasive beetle. This was a great learning moment.

It is important to note that there are steep sections and cliffs throughout the preserve. Trails are well marked. Dogs are welcome in the preserve but it is requested that they remain on their leash and under owners control. 

Trail Map:
Access to the Preserve
A hike through this enchanted preserve is a perfect outing for hikers and dogs! 

Aussie overlooking Clark Pond

Monday, July 24, 2017

High up in the Clouds

Our group of three adults, four boys ages 6-11, and one excited Aussie, could not wait to begin our assent to to the summit of Mount Wachusett located in Princeton, MA. Mount Wachusett and the surrounding forest did not disappoint, we climbed high into the sky to reach a height of 2006 feet. Once at the summit we were greeted with vast views and a Ranger who showed talked with us about the different wildlife found around the Mount Wachusett mountain. He let the kids feel pelts and look at skeletons. 

From the summit on a clear day, you can take in views of Mt. Monadonock in Ne Hampshire, the Berkshires to the west, and Boston skyline to the east. The 3,000-acre Wachusett Mountain State Reservation surrounds the summit and offers many opportunities to explore. The Reservation's natural resources include forests, alpine meadows, ponds, streams, fields and even a perched bog. Recreational opportunities abound on the reservation including hiking, nature study, hawk watching, picnicking and skiing. The Reservation offers 17 miles of hiking and walking trails, including 3.9 miles of the Midstate Trail, which runs from Ashburnham to the Rhode Island border. Mountain Road stretches to the John Hitchcock Visitor's Center at the summit, a short distance from the Wachusett Mountain Ski area. which is the largest in eastern Massachusetts. 

We parked at the visitor center, it is important to note that the parking lot at the visitor center is limited to 28 spaces, available on a first come first serve basis. If the lotus full, you will be redirected to another trail head around the perimeter of the mountain.

Road to the Summit:
The road to the summit will open for the season on Saturday May 23, 2015 at 1:00pm. It will then be open daily from 9:00am to sunset through the last weekend in October. There is a $5.00 fee to access parking along the summit road and for the parking lots.

Trail Maps:
Suggested Hikes
A hike up this beautiful mountain is a great day, adults, kids and Aussies all agree!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Hike Up a Not So Sleepy Giant

Named for its resemblance to a sleeping giant, Sleeping Giant State Park located in Hamden, CT offers both challenging and leisure trails for adults and their canine companions alike.

In addition to a great hike, there are opportunities to fish and picnic. A great place to spend the day.

As you approach the parking lot for Sleeping Gian State Park, you will see Quinnipiac College directly across the street. You can park further down the road and avoid paying a fee to enter. We chose to park right in the lot as we wanted to make a donation to the park. There is a higher fee for out of state cars so check the web site before you go.

We hiked to the top of the mountain and we were rewarded with views of
Long Island Sound and the New Haven area. Visit the DEEP site to learn more about Sleeping Giant and to plan your visit.

As we competed our hike to the top, we were excited to happen upon an Australian Shepherd club!

If you live in the CT area and own an Australian Shepherd, check out the Australian Shepherd Club we bumped into, they were super friendly and look like they are up for a lot of fun.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Great Brook Farm State Park

On your way to visit Great Brook Farm Sate Park in Carlisle, MA, you wind through a woodland oasis and begin to feel the excitement of what will be a very special day. Once you arrive at this gem of a park, you recognize that an amazing hike awaits you but the cherry on the cupcake is the farm complete with an ice cream stand.

The park consists of approximately 1000 acres and has over 20 miles of trails available for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. If you visit during the winter months, cross-country skiing awaits. Visit the Great Brook Farm State Park website for directions and parking information. 

As you hike through Great Brook Farm, you will stroll around ponds, hike through forests and enter into swamp areas all teaming with a variety of wildlife, we were able to observe tadpoles. 

Home to the first robotic milking system in Massachusetts and a state-of-the-art smart barn, a tour of the farm is a must. The cows line up to be milked on demand and wander over for an afternoon back scratch. You can't help but to think that if you were born a cow, this would be 
an ideal place to call home.

The Duffy family maintains the dairy farm and has raised the same Holstein herd for 30 years. The milk from the cows is turned into Cabot products. There is also a petting/feeding area home to rabbits, sheep and goats. You can purchase animal feed for tweet-five cents. 
The ice cream stand is open mid-April to mid-October. For dog owners, you can walk right up to the window and place your order. The ice cream stand is open mid-April to Halloween and with fun flavors such as chocolate caramel pretzel, cotton candy, bubble gum and they offer varieties in yogurt, sherbet and sorbet. 

Great Brook Farm State Park is very dog friendly andAussie approved. All dogs need to be on leash in parking lots, the pavilion and the ice cream stand. If dogs are in voice command there are areas for them to be permitted off leash. For specifics, refer to the dogs in Mass parks.

A visit to Great Brook Farm State Park makes for a wonderful day for hikers and their furry companions alike. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Science by the Sea

Nestled right next to the sea in Rye, New Hampshire, an interesting Science Center sits amongst a rocky coast, woodlands, WWII fortifications, a pond and a salt marsh. In the distance four light houses can be seen creating the quintessential New England backdrop. The Seacoast Science Center resides in the Odiorne Point State Park. A treasure just waiting to be explored.

After our visit to the science center, we could not stop talking about our experience which included meeting a blue lobster, viewing marine life in their natural substrate, exploring a touch tank full of sea stars, hermit crabs and other interesting sea creatures.

The size of the science center is perfect for learning about specific marine life. The exhibits are very detailed and we left with new facts about lobsters (Did you know that lobsters actually become stronger as they age?), boating (a great hands on exhibit), and we were awestruck over their collection of marine life skeletons.

Each exhibit  within the center provided a window into the world of marine life. We had the treat of watching the sea anemones being fed. We also saw fascinating marine life such as a Sea Dragon.

After touring the science center, we stepped outside and found ourselves an endless natural habitat, a playground that delighted all of our senses. Walking along the rocky coast, the kids were fascinating by the different types of rocks and marine life that were tiding up on shore. It is an easy one-mile walk from the Seacoast Science Ceter to Frost point on the trails and long the way there are many opportunities of nature exploration.

What we found unique about the Seacoast Science Center is that it provides both an opportunity to learn within the center and then experience what you learned about right outside the door in its natural setting.

The Seacoast Science Center is a must do
marine science experience.

Additional information and directions to the Seacoast Science Center:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unique Cedar Bog Featuring Carnivorous Plants in Massachusetts

Sign at beginning of trail. 
Planks on the trail.
Captivated by carnivorous plants, I never had an opportunity to see them growing in nature. I was amazed to find them along with elephant ears thriving in Canton, Massachusetts. Ponkapoag Bog Trail is a must visit if you live in or are traveling to Massachusetts. Part of the Blue Hills Reservation, Ponkapoag Bog is a white cedar bog, which is a bog rarely found in Massachusetts. The bog has a boardwalk trail which is made up of single layer planks. We traveled all the way through the bog's edge which is in the middle of the pond. It ends with an amazing view of the pond. We were able to see sundews, and pitcher plants. Blatteworts are also in residence however we were not lucky enough to find them. I was also excited to see elephant ears, I over winter our elephant ears, it is amazing to see them thriving in the harsh New England climate.

I read that the boardwalk can be difficult if the water level is high so plan your hike accordingly.

Ponkapoag Pond
In addition to the Ponkapoag Bog Trail, you can hike a scenic 4.2 mile hike around the Ponkapoag pond.

After researching the best way to access the trail, I found that parking at the Ponkapoag Golf Course on Washington Street in Canton, at the intersection with Turnpike Street, provided the best access. There is a map of Blue Hill Reservation at the entrance to Maple Avenue, a tree lined paved path that goes through the heart of the golf course. We took the path to the end and turned left, following the dirt path through the golf course. Ponkapoag Pond will be on the right.  There will be a path that intersects in the woods. Take the  path to the bog boardwalk entrance, you will find a sign and a marker indicating it is the Ponkapoag Bog Trail.
Pitcher plants were flowering!
Elephant Ears