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See, smell and touch the extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life that lives year-round within these predominantly oak forests and wooded wetlands, a part of the larger Manchester-Essex Woods.
The diversity of mixed hardwood trees and groves in this woodland may well have been encouraged by the silviculture practices of Indigenous people who lived here long ago. They managed forests to promote the growth and health of trees they depended on—nut trees such as hickory and beech, birches for baskets and canoes, oaks for wigwam walls and dugouts, maples and pines for resins and woodcarvings, and hemlocks for medicine. They made clearings for berry-bearing bushes, such as blueberry, and maintained vernal ponds.
Understory plants and fungi also had important uses. Indigenous people used pipsissewa flowers and pink lady slipper roots to make medicinal teas. Pipsissewa (Chimafilla umbellata), for example, is an antiseptic diuretic, used in the treatment of bladder and urinary tract infections. Pipsissewa is an Eastern Abenaki word and translates literally as “flower of the forest.”
White, red, scarlet and black oaks are interspersed with black birch, red maple, beech, hemlock, white pine, and shagbark and pignut hickories.
Catbriar and low-bush blueberries provide food for many species and make it an excellent location to observe wildlife. Deadwood hemlocks provide shelter for cavity-nesting animals like flying squirrels and Saw-whet Owls. Opossum, red fox, skunk, otter, deer and other mammals make their home in these woods. Several natural ecosystems thrive here, contributing to a varied bird population.
A shrub swamp holds several vernal pools that provide breeding areas for amphibians, including spotted salamanders, spring peepers and wood frogs. Spotted turtles can also be found here in spring, sunning on sedge or feeding on egg masses in the pond.
Apple Street, Essex. (Opens in Google Maps)
Latitude 42.620033, Longitude -70.782650
From Route 128/Exit 50/School Street/Southern Avenue:
Go on School Street/Southern Ave towards Essex. In 2.2 miles, bear left onto Apple Street. Trailhead and parking are 0.6 miles ahead on the left.
From intersection of Route 22 and Route 133 in Essex:
Go south on Route 22. In 0.8 miles, turn left onto Apple Street. Trailhead and parking are 0.7 miles ahead on the right.
Parking is limited to 4 cars. Park in the small turnout on your left.
82 Eastern Avenue
PO Box 1026
Essex, MA 01929
Greenbelt thanks the photographers whose work is featured prominently on our website: Jerry Monkman, Dorothy Monnelly, Adrian Scholes, David Alden St. Pierre & Neil Ungerleider