Sunday, September 21, 2014

Knox Family Farm: By Hiking or Paddling

by Beth Sullivan
We paddled up Quimabaug Cove last week: a gorgeous September day, light breezes, warm sun, just perfect. From the water you get that whole different perspective of the edges of Avalonia’s Knox Family Farm Preserve.
The Avalonia Preserve begins at the far side of the field, marked by the welcoming sign.

By water

Maybe about a half mile up from the Route 1 overpass, the houses thin out, and the marsh grasses soften the edges. The clear water allows glimpses of rocks and shellfish and crabs along the bottom. On the East side there is a small cove lined by saltmarsh. At this time of year the grasses are at their best, some with their unique flower spikes. There are small Saltmarsh Asters, Seaside Goldenrod and lovely Sea Lavender. On this day thousands of Green Darner Dragonflies flew by, on a mission, heading across the cove as they continued their southern migration. We startled a Great Blue Heron…actually it startled us as it jumped into flight with a raspy guttural croak.
Salt Marsh grasses and asters can be found along the edges of the cove.

A Great Blue Heron blends in as he quietly stalks small fish in the marsh.

Just beyond the cove the land rises up: a geological formation of rocky cobble, like an esker left by the glaciers. Look for the Avalonia sign there, and pull onto the little rocky shoreline spot. You can tie up the boats to a cherry tree by the water, but likely they won’t escape. It is a little steep, but we hope to put up a railing, and the trail is at the top of the hill.
A shady rock just off the trail provides a great observation point.

There are two loop trails on this portion of the preserve. One takes you along the waters’ edge and gives lovely peeks through the cedars, to the water, and marsh below. It makes a great spot to watch the birds, wait for the Heron to return or listen for the rattle of the Kingfisher. The old cedars tell a tale that this was a pasture that grew in long ago. There are stone walls and piles of small rocks that imply that clearing the land was no easy task. There is a junction, with maps, where the trail meets up with an old roadway. There is interesting history here, an old “casino” was located in this area, and that will make for another story. The loop is easy walking, the trail is wide, well maintained and clearly blazed in yellow, thanks to a volunteer and his family. We have hopes to add another loop that will take a hiker into the rockier and wetter north portion of the preserve.
Old Mountain Laurels line the trails
It is a nice way to stretch your legs before you return to paddle.

By land

To visit from the main entrance: park on the mowed grass at roadside near Darling Hill Farm, opposite Lord’s Hill on Rt. 1. Please note, the driveway is PRIVATE; the entrance to the trail is on your right, and this portion of the trail is a Right of Way to get to the actual preserve. It winds though a wet woodland with massive old Mountain Laurel shrubs, ferns and grapevines. A boardwalk takes you over the really wet areas which are full of standing water and even frogs in the spring time. Along the upper stone wall the trail goes through head high shrubs and golden rod and comes out by the Farm shed. The rope way is not to keep walkers out, but to keep the pony in! Please be respectful of the landowners as you walk in front of the shed and go right at the corner though a gateway in the wall. This will get you to a lovely field of grasses, milkweed and butterflies. Enjoy as you follow the edge to the far side where the Avalonia Owned property begins at the trail head sign. There you pick up the yellow blazed trail on the pentway.
A boardwalk protects the wetlands.

Either way you experience it, Knox Family Farm is worth the visit.
The little cove provides a quiet place to sit and observe.


Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

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