Both locations are in adjacent towns and only a few miles apart, making them a great choice for a summer evening of exploring the remaining natural areas and wetlands of eastern Massachusetts.
Cranberry Bog Nature Walk at Patriot Place
|Turtles hanging out|
On our most recent visit we were able to observe a number of different turtle species and just take in the flora and fauna that flourish just a few hundred yards from a very developed commercial area that includes retail development along with Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots.
Thankfully mosquitoes weren't too much of a problem even though we were there in the evening hours. After the walk we relaxed a bit at the patio behind the Bass Pro Shops. There's outdoor seating available and there's a fire pit that I guess is used on special occasions. We just took it as a place to spend a few minutes enjoying the evening.
|Relaxing behind the Bass Pro Shops|
Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Norfolk, Massachusetts, the Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (trail map available) offers about 2 miles of nature trails in two large loops that brings visitors around and through a series of marshes, bogs and ponds. The first section of the trail, from the Visitor Center down to boardwalks between Teal Marsh and Kingfisher Pond are universally accessible, making this a great choice for everyone to enjoy a walk.
|At the Visitor Center|
We were there in the evening hours so the visitor center wasn't open, but even still there were a number of visitors enjoying the area around the center, fishing in the pond and enjoying the trails. There were even several photographers trying to get photos of an elusive rabbit that was running around the yard of the visitor center.
From the northern side of the visitor center, the Sensory Trail heads northward and soon crosses the stream that connects Teal Marsh to Stony Brook Pond. On our visit there was a swan nest just south of the bridge off in the woods on the edge of the marsh. Never having the opportunity to see one so close, it was really interesting two see the two adult swans with their young in what I could only define as a nest area. They had definitely taken up some of the real estate to rear their young!
|A swan nest we discovered|
There's an extensive boardwalk up ahead that carries you first over swampy lands and then into the open marsh and finally open waters on the edge of Kingfisher Pond. All along there's plenty of opportunities to view plants and animals along the trail and then the turtles and other wildlife in the marsh and the pond.
We were able to see plenty of turtles once again, along with various birds and some fish in the pond too. The wetland complex in this area is vast and the trail with its boardwalk brings you into the heart of the area, giving you an extensive view of all of the surround wetland features.
As you reach the end of the boardwalk, you also reach the end of the universally accessible portion of the trail. From here there is a short loop trail called the Beech Grove Trail that brings you around another dry island between the marshes and the ponds. At the northern end of the loop there's an elevated viewing platform that gives you a view into the northern portion of Kingfisher Pond and is a nice place to sit and relax. There are a few herd paths in this area though, so do pay attention as you make your away around the loop that you do not end up taking a fisherman's path to the water's edge.
|Boardwalk and Kingfisher Pond|
After crossing the bridge, the trail makes its way south along the eastern edge of Stony Brook Pond. About halfway to the southern end of the pond, the trail intersects with a short trail that heads out to Route 115. Continuing on, the trail reaches the Stony Brook Pond dam and then descends, crossing the pond's outlet on a bridge below the dam and then climbing back up to pond's shoreline before ascending gently back up to the visitors center.
|Boardwalks viewing platform|
It was a really pleasant area to spend a little over an hour and a half as we walked the entire trail network and got to experience a number of different things we hadn't run into before like the swans' nest. If I were looking for a place to bring visitors for an easy walk in the future, this would definitely be on my short list of places to go.
For more Information on Hikes and Walks in Eastern Massachusetts
and the Boston Metropolitan Region
Patriot Place maintains a website for the Nature Walk and the Massachusetts Audubon Society manages the Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary.
For more hiking and walking options in Massachusetts and the Boston region, the Appalachian Mountain Club publishes a Trail Guide for Trails in Massachusetts and a Trail Guide for the 60 Best Hikes Near Boston