Located on a residential side street in Chelmsford, Thanksgiving Ground Forest is a 45-acre wooded area that abuts Great Brook Farm in Carlisle and Russell Mill. There is a small parking area at the end of Janet Road, open to the public for hiking, mountain biking, and canoe or kayaking.
Pleasant and wide trails are covered in pine needles and there are gentle elevation changes which get your heart rate up but also make for decent mountain bike adventures. Step carefully over roots, observe the pine and hardwood clusters, and bring your hiking shoes to scramble on the boulders. It’s very family friendly and great for young children.
The woods were named for the annual fox hunt organized by Chelmsford residents on Thanksgiving Day in the early 1800s. While the fox hunts are long gone, there are lots of critters about to enjoy on a walk including beaver, muskrat, birds and squirrels. You might also encounter the occasional rider on horseback. Dogs on leash are welcomed.
Trails can be as short as a one mile loop, and as long as three miles into Great Brook State Park. River Meadow Brook is a nice water feature and a wide bridge makes easy access to the pipeline right of way that leads out to Great Brook.
There are two main trails, well-marked, the Bovey Trail and the Russell trail, and there are access points at Kristen Road and Gary Road as well. These are 1-2 mile loops, but adding in the extension to Great Brook can put you over the 3 mile mark.
As with all outdoor activities, wear a mask and observe social distancing protocols.