COVID-19 is pushing us all to find ways to stay sane during the social distancing and recommended shut downs. Since we’ll be home for the next three weeks at least, I am committing to get my family out for a walk every day as long as weather permits. And while we always enjoy finding new places, I am doubling down on my search. To that end, we just enjoyed walking in Concord, a quick twenty minutes from the house, through rolling hills that pass grand homes, horse barns, pastures and colonial-era mansions, several displaying antique farm equipment on their front lawns.
We explored Estabrook Woods, a short distance from the Carlisle line, and not far from the historical North Bridge. Estabrook Woods is part of the Town of Concord and was named after Thomas Estabrook who settled there in the 1680s. According to historical sources, Estabrook Woods is where colonial minutemen marshalled on Punkatasset Hill prior to what would be the shot heard ‘round the world at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775. Thoreau also wrote 160 journal entries about “Easterbrooks Country” and poet Ellery Channing lived on this land; the two were friends and walking companions. John Thoreau, Henry David’s father owned the saw mill whose remnants these trails pass by.
One of the features we passed was an old lime quarry which was used in colonial times as a source for lime. Remnants of a kiln are nearby. A lime kiln would heat the stone to extract the lime from it. Several kilns are in the area including one in Chelmsford. According to the Town of Concord, evidence of this activity dates back to the 1690s.
Trails are wide and well-trodden in most places, but there are not the customary blazes so bring a compass and print a map from concordma.gov or from Alltrails. There were several families and groups out walking, dogs are welcomed but must be on leash, and more than a few mountain bikers were out. We encountered several vernal pools that were filled with loudly chirping spring peepers, a real delight. There are no restroom facilities so plan accordingly. Signage does alert visitors to ticks, so keep an eye as even in this cold-ish weather ticks can be active. We observed several cars parked near the Hutchins Pond access point. Hutchins Pond was created to harvest ice in the early 1900s and has a nice, thirty minute loop around it. So as your cabin fever sets in, give Estabrook Woods a try. You’ll get your exercise, nature break, and trace some historical routes of our early colonial ancestors.
There are numerous public access entrances to the woods in both the Town of Concord and Carlisle. In Concord, the entrances that access Town or public Land Trust land are: Punkatasset Hill on Monument Street (Town of Concord land), Monument Farm Road off of Monument Street (access to Town land), and Chamberlin Woods on Lowell Road (access to public Land Trust land).