The Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is divided into multiple units, consisting of conservation areas in Billerica, Concord and Sudbury. We visited the Sudbury refuge earlier this spring and found it to be a nice place to walk, with a variety of terrain and pathways, having explored the Concord unit already.
The Sudbury location is smaller but quiet and broken into the Weir Hill Trail and the Red Maple Trail, each offering different access to the land.
The Red Maple trail features a long and accessible boardwalk, complete with benches and an observation platform to look out over the marsh and the Sudbury River. Since the area is a red maple swamp and floodplain, it is often wet when the Sudbury overflows its banks.
Visitors are welcomed to fish in the small pond that is surrounded by the boardwalk. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, there are many native plants and creatures including wood ducks, dragonflies and red-winged blackbirds. We saw hawks and frogs and turtles.
Crossing the road, we also explored the Weir Hill trail. Weir Hill is named for the fishing weirs used by the Nipmuc native American tribe who fished in the Sudbury River. Interpretive panels share additional historical information about the grasses and plants that were used by the Nipmuc to weave baskets and use for food.
The hill includes a kettle hole, a depression left by melting glacial ice. The forest has hemlock, red and white oak. There is a winding staircase of natural materials climbing a switchback up the hill.
The property also borders the Sudbury Valley Trustees Round Hill trail. Dogs on leash are welcomed. Round Hill is described as a drumlin, created by glaciers just like the kettle pond.
The climb to the top is fairly quick, but trails also circle the hill and wind to the top. There is a nice view in fall and winter before the trees leaf out. A granite bench commemorates a local birder and historian and is a nice place for a rest.
The hill rises 227 feet and is an easy add on to your Great Meadows visit. At this time of year, wear hikers and bug spray since the area is mostly wetlands.
While pests are a nuisance to us, we must remember that they feed the birds, fish and help break down plant matter. Grab your binoculars and head out to Great Meadow in Sudbury. Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury.