Date: January 5, 2013
Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 171 feet
Our Hiking Time: 2 hours roundtrip
Trail Blaze: White Rectangles (Bay Circuit Trail), Red Circles (Harold Parker State Forest Trail)
This morning Addie and I hit the trail with my friend Greg and his daughter Elizabeth. Though there was snow on the ground, the temperature was in the low 40′s – perfect for a winter hike! We headed to the Skug River Reservation in Andover, MA to pick up where we had left off a few weekends back.
There was plenty of parking at the trailhead (we were the only ones there). After gearing up with hats and gloves, we headed down the sloped trail to the first wooden bridge that crosses a marsh, up a slight hill, and then continued to follow the Bay Circuit Trail to the left.
The trail meandered though the forest, twisting along the banks of the Skug River. Early on, we were passed by a few mountain bikers with squeaky bikes, but for the remainder of the hike, we were alone. Though the only wildlife we heard was the the sound of chickadees, we did discover a bird’s nest high up in the trees. The girls were also delighted to find a sizable piece of bark, which they examined with great interest.
We followed the trail for about a mile until we came right to the edge of the river. Greg tested out the ice, and after deeming it safe, we let the girls “ice-skate” on the frozen surface. We followed that with a game of “hockey puck” which consisted of Greg heaving the girls across the ice on their bums. They were thrilled!
When the giggling died down, we headed back on the trail and crossed crossed into Harold Parker State Forest. Continuing on the Bay Circuit Trail, we wound our way to an old soapstone quarry once owned by William Jenkins and his wife Mary Saltmarsh Farnham, abolitionists whose house was a stop on the underground railroad during the 19th century. There was a beautiful frozen waterfall cascading off the remaining stones of their sawmill’s millrace (the canal through which water flows to a water wheel).
After admiring the ice formations, we hiked a bit further along the Bay Circuit Trail until it split. We turned right over a small wooden bridge and began hiking on the Harold Parker State Forest Trail. From here, we followed the trail to the Hornidge Bridge, and back to the start of the loop. As we crossed the bridge, the girls were suddenly inspired to take photographs with their own cameras. (Addie got her first “real” camera as a Christmas gift from her Grandmama and G-Dad and was itching to try it out.)
We ended the hike back where we started, having covered the 2.5 miles in 2 hours. It was a great hike for little legs – Addie and Elizabeth had no difficulty as the snow on the trail was packed down from previous hikers. You can download a copy of the trail map here.
Directions to the trailhead:
Skug River Reservation, Salem Street, Andover, MA 01810
From I-93: Exit 41, take Rt. 125 North 4.5 mi. to traffic light. Take a right onto Salem Street. Trailhead is on the right.
From I-495: Exit 42A, take Rt. 114 East 1.9 mi. Turn right onto Rt. 125 South and follow for 2.1 mi. to traffic light. Take a left onto Salem Street. Trailhead is on the right.