Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bay Circuit Trail: Terra Incognita Part 1. Easton MA.

Hockomock Swamp.

The southern stretch of the Bay Circuit Trail between Sharon and the coast may well be the most mysterious and an acquaintance who is far more familiar with the trail system than I describes it as "terra incognita"

I'll use the directional flow indicated by the Bay Circuit Alliance and begin with Easton. Sharon has an array of quality on line resources to alert the interested to its participation.   

Borderland State Park is an outstanding place to start. A walk along the Bay Circuit Trail from its northern entry point to its exit point in Easton is a striking encounter with transition.

Borderland State Park Easton Section.

In addition to crossing such legal jurisdictional boundaries as town and county lines, you are also walking a geology cross section. You begin at the near back side of a moraine edge with all the stark and evocative remains of fast glacial melt, exposed ledge, substantial and long boulder trains and an overall landscape little changed since the glacier left beyond a wonderful adornment of mixed forest and wetland.

But, south of the main visitor center and parking lot, you are literally at the edge of two converging bits of geology, the long sand skirt that sprawls south of here to the Cape and Islands and beneath it, a bit of carboniferous floor of the Narragansett Basin a thing similar to the floor of Boston.

And if a bonus is needed, there is also the basin of extinct glacial Lake Taunton, largely contained by the Hockomock Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

Douglas Watts is to Easton, and this remarkable collision of boundaries, what Henry Thoreau was to Walden. His blog pieces on North Easton, South Easton and the Hockomock are benchmark works of a standard I aspire to.

The Bay Circuit Trail passes through a string of smaller open space parcels between its exit from the southern end of Borderland to the point where it enters the Hockomock.

Old Pond is one of a number of early American foundry sites found in the area fanning out from Ames family blacksmith expansion to manufacturing by the onset of the 19th century.

Wheaton Farm is further south and offers a well varied walk through meadow , forests and wetlands.

And the trail traverses the Hockomock along a power line access road well suited for mountain bikes and dog walking. A dormant rail line crosses the trail and leads into the depths of this stunning wilderness survival.

Abandoned Rail Line Trail Hockomock Swamp