My dad wanted to try this park. We loved it, and ended up going two days in a row.
On Day 1, we explored the east side of the park, near the campgrounds. This was a there-and-back-again trip. We didn't have a lot of time, so we didn't bother to pack a lunch, or water, or anything really. Just went and walked. It was rather flat, but quite pretty.
|A close-up of pine needles and various lichen on a rock.|
|Ho hum, another beautiful forest scene. Note the two different shaped blazes marking a single trail.|
On Day 2, we set out to do a loop around North Mountain and a boulder field on the west side of the park. We decided to do it counter-clockwise, starting with the North Mountain Bypass trail. We had a map (kind of - it was not very detailed, since I'd forgotten the real trail map at home) and written instructions on how to do the trail clockwise. All we had to do was follow the instructions backward, and voila!
|I loved the root system rising out of the pine needles.|
We stopped in the boulder field for lunch. It was truly surreal.
|The area is very popular with climbers.|
Supposedly, all the rocks in the boulder field were plucked up by glaciers eons ago, but there were some strange rock-tree interactions. In many places, it looked like the rocks had been merrily rolling along until they ran into a tree. Other places, it looked like the trees were growing into the rocks. Pretty cool any way you slice it.
After the boulder field, we walked over to what we thought was Dead Pond, and followed a trail we picked up near there. We got disoriented (I blame the stones) and went through the Devil's Den. We saw plenty of evidence of beaver activity in the area.
|Exhibit A in People v Beaver|
|This tree was still clinging to life!!!!|
|A dramatic re-enactment of the arboreal feeding frenzy.|
We saw a lot of people enjoying a large natural climbing/rappelling wall (it looks like a great place to learn!) and many more scenic sights....
|These are not slabs of concrete, but natural rock formations.|
|This is where we should have had lunch - the perfect sunny spot, just off the boulder field.|
|Fissures in the rock.|
|A natural pulpit or balcony.|
Luckily, the locals knew the area quite well and helped us get oriented again. As it was getting late, we simply walked down Round Pond Road all the way to Reservation Road.
|Reflections in a pond (which we believed to be Round Pond).|
|The vegetation growing on this rock looks a lot like hair, doesn't it?|
We did notice one very cool thing about the mud -- it seemed to dye the leaves black. These leaves weren't visibly coated with mud, and they weren't wet, but instead appeared to be truly dyed or stained. And it wasn't just one type of leaf, either - we noticed oak, beech, and others all stained alike.
|Our wildlife sighting for the day - a small, nearly tailless mammal. A shrew, perhaps?|
On the way back to the car, we took a look at the old cemetery on Reservation Road (headstones dated circa 1825-1890).
There were gentle climbs and descents throughout the day, and plenty of soft leaves and pine needles underfoot. The scenery was both gorgeous and incredibly cool. Definitely worth another return trip!