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Total Acres: 106
Year Conserved: 1986
See, smell and touch the extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life that lives year-round within these predominantly oak forests and wooded wetlands.
Part of the larger Manchester-Essex Woods conserved by Greenbelt and the Manchester-Essex Conservation Trust, the woods are a beautiful and quiet place for walking, cross-country skiing, and appreciating nature.
The dense forest protects the headwaters of the Essex River and is part of an extensive wildlife corridor. Several natural communities thrive here, including a mixed oak-hemlock forest, small stream bank, ravines and an old field. 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. A popular place for mushroom hunting.
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.”
2.2 miles of moderate terrain with connecting trails.
This property was a gift of Anne Warren Weld of Gloucester, a deep water sailor and early Cape Ann environmentalist who wrote, “We are deeply interested in conservation,
alternate sources of energy, wind and solar power, in short, the planet’s preservation, imbued with the philosophy of E.F. Shumacher,” the author of Small is Beautiful.
White, red, scarlet and black oaks are interspersed with black birch, red maple, beech, hemlock, white pine, and shagbark and pignut hickories. Pink lady’s slipper, pipsissewa and wood anemone appear in spring. Look for highbush and lowbush blueberries in summer.
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.
Total Acres: 106
Year Conserved: 1986
82 Eastern Avenue
PO Box 1026
Essex, MA 01929
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Greenbelt thanks the photographers whose work is featured prominently on our website: Jerry Monkman, Dorothy Monnelly, Adrian Scholes, David Alden St. Pierre & Neil Ungerleider