Here is a bit of history and developing events related to Groveland’s Town Forest.
The forest was set aside for lumber production in the 19th century and then later became conservation land.
Until the 1990’s the Forest saw little use and huge tall, dense white pines grew unscathed. The Forest hosted a network of informal trails in Groveland extending into Brake Hill, West Newbury. In the late 1990’s Groveland’s Boy Scout Troop 87 marked and improved a trail from Wood Street proceeding around the top of Crow Hill which at an elevation of 252 feet is the highest point in Groveland. These trails were first shown on maps from the old Friends of Our Trails group, chaired by Newburyport’s Tom Horth. When Nichols Village replaced the old Valley Farm additional trails were cleared and easements obtained
Valley Farm was actually part of the original tracts of land developed by the earliest settlers in the area dating back to the late 1600s. Two families the Maddocks and Tarlton’s owned some of these tracts that included the farm. The Nichol’s family acquired the farm many years later and through the Nichol’s Trust developed the land into the present-day Nichol’s Village senior community.
In the early 2000’s Groveland voted down a move to develop water facilities on Crow Hill and housing developments. People developed an interest in the forest and Bagnall School students led by teacher Hilary Seager added trail posts and marked most of the current trails. Ms Seager and the Bagnall fourth grade students also played instrumental roles in developing a trail system on the other side of town in a beautiful area known as Meadow Pond . You’ll find this on Uptack Road . Take the time to enjoy this wondeful network of well marked trails.
West Newbury Open Space Committee marked most of the remaining trails and opened new ones to Main Street on the Groveland line off of Route 113 across the street from Pentucket’s tennis courts. Maps were published and appear on the West Newbury Open Space web site.
In the latest chapter for the Forest, a water storage tank and service road are being built. You can access the service road and find many of the original trails off of Wood street. Some of the trails have been cleared away to make room for the service road.
There was a lobbying effort to have the tank located on the Webster property adjacent to the Town Forest on Wood street which did not materialize.
Nonetheless most of the Forest and contiguous Brake Hill area will remain natural and be part of a comprehensive trail network linking Nichols Village and Wood Street with trails in West Newbury and beyond.
This system called the ” Emerald Necklace” ties our Town Forest and future trails being planned into a network with names such as Riverbend, Mill Pond, Brake Hill and Crane Neck Wildlife area.
Perhaps after the Water Tower is situated on Crow Hill and the service road completed, Ms Seager, her students from Bagnall and Troop 87 might re-establish the trails and add new ones too. .
This is a beautiful part of our town that can be enjoyed by many for generations. And the best part is that in a few years it might be possible to hike from Wood street all the way to Newburyport traversing old forests, farms, marshes and meadows!