Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cold Harbor Cattails

Stamp carved by The Merry Pranksters
Hike length: short route = 1 mile; long route = 4.6 miles
Terrain: mostly flat & easy; part of long route trail has lots of roots & rocks, and some narrow boardwalks
Clues: Easy (hopefully)
Kids: great hike for kids (short route)
Hitchhikers: No room in box
Pets: Allowed on leash

Please take your own markers or ink pad (there is no ink in the box).

NOTE: This area can be very muddy with a lot of rain, and actually flooded with a whole lot of rain. There are plans for new boardwalks & bridge extensions & improvements—hopefully that will happen soon!

Northborough Trail Maps: choose Carney Park/Cold Harbor Trails

Cold Harbor Brook

For more information about Cold Harbor Brook, including a map of the brook, a pictorial tour, historical information, and water testing results for 2007, visit: Assabet River StreamWatch

One historical tidbit I enjoyed from that site related the "traditional account" of how Cold Harbor got it's name:

"Cold Harbour Meadow, in the western part of the town, so called from the circumstance of a traveler, having lost his way, being compelled to remain through a cold winter's night in a stack of hay in that place, and on the following morning, having made his way through the wilderness to the habitations of man, and being asked where he lodged during the night, replied, 'In Cold Harbour!'


This box is planted along the northern-most part of the Cold Harbor Trail. The trailhead for just this section is at the corner of Cherry Street and West Street, Northborough MA (you can just cut-n-paste that into Google Maps or whichever map site you prefer). If you wish to park at this trailhead, please park on West Street (not Cherry), and just pull onto the shoulder. The hike from this access point is 0.5 miles out & back, for a total distance of 1 mile. It is an easy, flat walk

If you are up for a longer hike, however, I suggest that you choose to begin your journey at the main trailhead at Carney Park, and pick up Mim’s “Winter Dawn” letterbox along the way. Carney Park is at the intersection of West Main Street and Davis Street, Northborough MA (again, cut-n-paste). The hike from this access point is 2.3 miles out and back, for a total of 4.6 miles of pleasant, interesting, and easy walking. The access road is directly across from Davis Street, and is a gravel road that climbs a small hill. This access road is on the WEST side of the Carney Park sign (as opposed to entering the parking lot for the commercial building on the East side of the sign), and is just East of the Agway (big rooster—you can’t miss it—until Agway closes, which it is rumored is pending). At the end of the gravel road is a parking area & the trailhead kiosk. Follow the trail along the dam, through the mini-woods, across the field, along a second dam, through the woods, and across the next field on the boardwalks. This section ends at a road (Cherry Street). Turn RIGHT onto Cherry Street—a small, minimally trafficked country road—and walk 0.2 miles until you reach the intersection with West Street. The trailhead is right ahead of you.


Follow the trail to the pontoon bridge (very cool when there is enough water for it to be floating). It is deep at one point in this bridge, so monitor young children appropriately. Notice all the beaver activity! Cross this floating bridge and turn right onto the trail as it runs alongside the brook. After walking for a bit, notice the VERY large 3 trunked pine tree abutting the trail on the right (you can’t miss it). Continue on the trail until you reach another bridge (this one does NOT float). You have a beautiful view of the wetlands here, stunning in any season (cattails are in their glory now).

Walk to the end of the bridge, step down, and stop. Sight in front of you the first dead, stripped-of-bark tree abutting the trail on the left. From the edge of the bridge, count your steps (average adult-sized steps) as you walk to that tree. Let’s call this number “NN.” You can continue a bit further from here, staying to the left at the first fork. The trail will empty into the back yards of some homes & travel along the property line to Church Street. You needn’t go that far, though, since you actually need to…

Turn around and return to that VERY large 3 trunked tree. From this tree, take NN steps down the path (you are headed in the direction of the pontoon bridge). Stop. Now look to “3NN” degrees (note: this is three-hundred and NN). There should be 2 pine trees flanking a smaller (?maple) tree. Leaning against the back-side of one of those pine trees is a hollowed-out log with the Cold Harbor Cattails. You may want to return to the stable bridge & sit there, go to the bench at the pontoon bridge, or find a cozy spot on the pine needles to stamp in.

After stamping in, please be sure the log is securely leaning against the pine, and the box is well hidden within. Then back-track to your car.

Please let me know if you see any problems with the trail itself (e.g., trees fallen over path, weeds growing over trail, etc.) so I can get it cleaned up. Thanks!

If you'd like to join a group of Grateful Letterboxers, click here.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Cool hike, cool idea with the directions. However, once returning to the 3 trunk pine tree and continuing down the path (towards the pontoon bridge) NN steps, the directions are not very clear. When giving directions in degrees, true, magnetic, or relative (grid if using a map) north needs to be given as well. Since this is letter boxing with kids and there is no indication that a compass is needed, one would assume that you would turn 3NN degrees from the direction you are facing/hiking. However, if you follow this assumption you would end up facing towards the opposite side of the trail away from the letter box location. So, when searching for this letter box keep in mind that once you've gotten to the point where you turn 3NN degrees, this needs to be done after turning and facing in a northerly direction.