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Bald Hill's assemblage of rich forests, diverse wetlands and open water supports an extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life. Greenbelt protects 25 land parcels within a much larger protected area. Bald Hill East is adjacent to the Boxford State Forest and the John Phillips Wildlife Sanctuary, together consisting of nearly 2,000 acres spread across Boxford, North Andover, and Middleton.
This land had spiritual significance to Indigenous people living in the area. They would have centered their calendrical observations and community rituals at Bald Hill, which retains evidence of a ceremonial stone landscape. The people also would have centered many of their subsistence activities at Crooked Pond with its beaver dams, bogs, Ph-neutral water, and limestone-nourished plants such as marsh dogwoods and marsh marigolds.
The people were Pawtucket, also called the Agawam. Approximately 200 Agawam were living at Bald Hill at the time of English settlement. They were not a tribe but an alliance of bands with villages in northern Essex and northern Middlesex counties, all under the aegis of the Pennacook Confederacy of the Merrimack Valley, based in New Hampshire.
Bald Hill holds rich forests, wetlands and ponds, and a wide variety of ferns, including cinnamon fern, hay-scented fern and bracken fern. Three kinds of lily pads flower on Towne Pond. Spring wildflowers include Columbine, hepatica, bloodroot, and pink lady's slipper.
Spring finds salamanders breeding in its two dozen vernal pools, and the air alive with spring peepers singing. Crooked Pond and the slopes of Bald Hill are among the country’s best locations to see breeding birds, including winter wrens, yellow-throated vireos, pileated woodpeckers, and northern goshawks, and their courtship rituals in April and May.
Summer brings flowering plants and breeding raptors; fall delivers a spectacular foliage display and winter wildlife tracking is an exciting adventure, when fallen snow becomes the record book for the travels of white-tailed deer, fisher, mink, otter and the occasional moose.
3.7 Mile Trail Loop | Easy to Moderate
Begin at the North Parking Area on Middleton Road. Hike on a wide, flat trail through a mature forest of pines, hemlocks and hardwoods. As the trail narrows, bear right at the first intersection and continue uphill as you enter Greenbelt’s Price Reservation. At the next big intersection, bear left and enjoy the view of Towne Pond on your right. The trail along the pond eventually passes over an earthen dam with a beaver deceiver and beaver lodge in sight. At the southern end of the pond bear left at trail intersection and return downhill through an open hardwood forest to the trail you started on. Bear right back to the parking area.
1.9 Mile Trail Loop | Moderate
Begin at the South Parking Area on Middleton Road. Hike on a wide trail through a mature woodland, passing a beautiful freshwater wetland on your left. Continue up the trail until Crooked Pond becomes visible with its many standing dead trees. With the pond on your left, the trail skirts the steep wooded hillside due to beaver flooding. Toward the western end of the pond bear left, and follow the trail across a small beaver dam where the trail is often flooded. Stay left at the first intersection, and remain on the main trail before going left again at the second major intersection. This trail takes you downhill back to a trail along the pond and eventually reconnects with the trail to the parking area.
2.0 Mile Trail Loop | Easy
Begin at the Sharpner’s Pond Road parking area. Hike on a wide, gravelly woods road through a stand of young birch and poplar trees that leads to a beautiful old quarry. Either take trails to the left at the quarry or bear left earlier at the “Swimming” signs to continue on the loop trail. The trail eventually passes a large wooded wetland on your left that is an excellent birding and general wildlife observation area. Continue along the loop trail and generally bear right at intersections until you return back to the quarry.
Middleton Road North
Latitude 42.650698, Longitude -71.003038
Middleton Road South
Latitude 42.640184, Longitude -70.990814
Sharpner’s Pond Road
Latitude 42.642635, Longitude -71.035981
Towne Pond Trail/Middleton Road North: From 95, take Exit 72 west on Endicott St. In 0.1 miles turn right onto Middleton Rd and in 2.5 miles look for a small parking area on your left. From east Boxford Village, take Elm St south for 0.1 miles onto Main St. In 0.4 miles, take left on Middleton Rd. In 0.7 miles look for a small parking area on your right.
Crooked Pond Trail/Middleton Road South: From 95, take Exit 72 west on Endicott St. In 0.1 miles turn right onto Middleton Rd and in 1.5 miles look for a parking area and kiosk on your left. From east Boxford Village, take Elm St south for 0.1 miles onto Main St. In 0.4 miles, take left on Middleton Rd. In 1.7 miles look for a parking area and kiosk on your right.
Fuller Loop Trail/Sharpner’s Pond Road: From 95, take Exit 72 and go west on Endicott St/Middleton Rd and in 0.9 miles turn right on Peabody Street. In 1.2 miles turn right on Liberty Street. In 0.5 miles Liberty St becomes North Liberty St. Follow North Liberty St for 2.1 miles and turn right on Sharpner’s Pond Road. The parking area is 0.1 miles ahead. From the intersection of Route 114 and Sharpner’s Pond Rd in Middleton, go northeast Sharpner’s Pond Rd. Parking area is 1.7 miles ahead on left.
Parking for several cars at each location.
82 Eastern Avenue, Essex,
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.