Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bay Circuit Trail: Andover MA Skug River Reservation..

There are some Bay Circuit communities that serve as activity hubs in their particular corner of the system. They are fully engaged in robust open space enhancement work and act as best practices benchmark locations.

And, of these, Andover is a place to revisit again and again. And of its places, the Skug River Reservation is particularly rewarding with a compelling convergence of history and nature.

The Bay Circuit meets it coming from the Harold Parker State Forest to the east and one soon encounters the ruins of a soapstone quarry and milling operation that was also an Abolitionist station along the Underground Railroad.


"The area was inhabited by Pentacook Indians until it was settled by English farmers around 1650. By the mid-nineteenth century agriculture was abandoned, and a new forest grew up. The sites of an 18th century sawmill and homesteads can be found. Tradition has it that many of the homes surrounding the forest were used as Underground Railroad hideouts in the 1850s. Secret doors and chambers can still be seen in local homes. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Lloyd Garrison were frequent visitors to families in the area." Courtesy Massachusetts DCR.

The Andover Village Improvement Society has been the keeper of the Skug River Reservation through its time as a preserve and collaborates with the Andover Historical Society to help enhance public appreciation of the Reservation with guided hikes weaving lore strands at a lively alert pace.

The terrain phases in and out of wetlands and uplands, oak maple copses and pine groves with the river near at hand.

It is a part of the Ipswich River watershed and winds eastward.

The trail meets the road at a parking lot it shares with the Hammond Reservation on Salem Street.