Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Walking: The Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog at Patriot Place | Foxboro, Massachusetts

photo.JPGSometimes in eastern Massachusetts nature comes along in the strangest of places.  That is certainly the case with the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog at Patriot Place in Foxboro.  This half a mile long nature trail goes around and through an active Cranberry Bog and its associated wetlands.  A short portion of the walk goes through a wooded area where you can get an idea of the previous glacial topography that used to cover this entire area.
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To get to the Nature Trail, there is a parking lot behind the Bass Pro Shops in Patriot Place.  The trail starts here and makes its way to the front of the Bass Pro Shops.  From there, it drops down and crosses through the wetland that is adjacent to the Cranberry Bogs.  The Trail here is gentle as it drops from the back of the Bass Pro Shop to the bridging that crosses the wetland.  Along the way there are informational and interpretive signs that explain about the functions and values of wetlands and cover information about the flora and the fauna of the area.

As the trail leaves the bridging, it follows along on a levee that holds the wetland from the operating cranberry bog.  The trail here is wide and easy to walk and covered in a soft covering of woodchips.  I would say that someone with a disability could make it out on to the bridging with some effort, but beyond the end of the bridge, the trail is just too soft (those woodchips) to go much further.

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There are some informational signs on the active cranberry bog and if you time it right, I guess you could see the farmers harvesting the cranberries in the fall.  We didn't luck out, but it was interesting to be able to see the field and the cranberries up close.

photo.JPGFrom the edge of the cranberry bog and the wetland, the trail goes into the woods where it makes a short climb onto an glacial esker.  Eskers are the remants of rivers that existed inside of glaciers.  When the ice melted, the sand and gravel inside the tunnel fell to the ground, leaving a narrow, winding, raised land form.  This area of Massachusetts is filled with a number of glacial outwash features, many now lost to development, so this is a nice opportunity to see and experience this kind of land form.

The trail climbs steeply in a few places, but the treadway is good and the trail is well maintained, making for an easy walk.  The bridge crosses a small inlet to the wetland on a bridge and then makes its way back up towards the parking area.  The trail skims around the front of the wetland and then climbs up to the parking area.

A very easy, but rewarding walk that gives visitors a nice glimpse of a wetland, a cranberry bog and some glacial landforms.  For most people it probably won't take more than half an hour or so, but if you enjoy watching turtles or checking out the cranberry harvest, you may end up spending more time there.  I probably wouldn't specifically go to the Nature Trail again, but if I was hosting visitors and we were looking for a quick walk in the area, I'd take them there.


For More Information
Patriot Place maintains a website for the Nature Walk 
The Appalachian Mountain Club publishes a Trail Guide for Trails in Massachusetts and a Trail Guide for the 60 Best Hikes Near Boston

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