Late 2005
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Boxford State Forest - December 11, 2005
Activity by Ken L.
Your Webmaster wound up on a solo visit to the Boxford State Forest.

The weather could not have been any better.  On Friday there was over a foot of snow, and by Sunday it was sunny and very warm...which actually turned out to be a problem.

Your Webmaster chose cross-country skis for the day, given that it looked like the trail had been broken a bit.  If you're not breaking trail, and the snow is right, you can kick and glide and really get a move on.  Life is good.

If it's below freezing, the snow stays as snow or becomes frozen if there's been a little melting.  Cross-country skis are fine.

If it's far above freezing, the snow melts a bit, and you can generally glide along OK, and nothing tends to stick to your skis.

HOWEVER if it's at freezing and the snow has a bit of liquid in it courtesy of the sun, that's trouble.  What happens is the snow melts on the trail and freezes instantly onto anything it touches, including your cross-country skis.  Kick and glide?  No, you're kickin' your butt for choosing your X-C skis instead of your snowshoes!

For most of the way the old skis were picking up skibergs (large chunks of wet snow) or had a bunch of snow stuck to the bottom.  Wax?  It worked for a few feet, then bupkus.  But, hey, the trail was broken by some earlier X-C skier, and then by someone in boots, so I was fine, right?  Well...

...hmmm...the end of the line, huh?  The guy in the skis gave up, then the guy in the boots gave up.  But I didn't give up.

There are no views in the Boxford State Forest.  There's not much to see.  The area comprises a bunch of old roads and trails, all through woods with a pond or two here and there.  You will spot one or two interesting things along the way, though, like the Boy Scout footbridge. seems the beavers have decided that they can do a better job than the Boy Scouts, so it looks like someone moved the bridge out onto the trail away from the big dam the beavers have been assembling.  (Elsewhere in the forest the beavers have flooded a road completely, and it has become impassable, but fortunately with the little bridges this section is still passable.)

I've been to the Boxford State Forest many times, and I usually visit the old Russell-Hooper farmstead when I go.

A quiet place for lunch is the Russell family cemetery.

The first and largest of the three monuments talks about the Russells' participation in the Revolutionary War.  Yes, this site goes back a ways.

After a stop in the sun, a snack, and a useless attempt to apply more wax to the skis, I took my leave of the Russells and began my trek back out.  More skibergs, more tromping...ugh.

For most of the day I had the woods to myself.  There was nobody else around.  About 1/2 mile from the entrance some people were heading my way.  I noticed that they were wearing snowshoes.  "Those were the better option today," I remarked.  "Oh, you've been walking in those, huh?"  "Yep, pretty much the whole way."

Shortly after that the snow conditions changed a little, and I was able to kick and glide a bit!  Wahoo!!  Heh, that lasted maybe a few hundred feet, at which point it was like slamming on the brakes.

Hey, I'll take slightly below par X-C skiing on a gorgeous day anytime!

Boxford State Forest Walk - December 3, 2005
Bradley Palmer State Park Walk - December 3, 2005
Activity by Ken L.
Alternate location and route by Michael S.
Photos by Ken L., Jennifer S.

Bradley W. Palmer State Park

Originally Jen, Michael, Jim, and Your Webmaster were going to walk around the Boxford State Forest, but the parking lot was full when we got there, which was puzzling.  At this time of year one can easily reason why---those pickups weren't carrying bikes or snowmobiles but rifles.  oops!

OK, Plan B!  Michael Schuttenberg, who runs many activities for GONewEngland, suggested Ward Hill, Weir Hill, or Bradley Palmer.  We opted for Bradley Palmer State Park, which is not far at all from the Boxford State Forest.

Just a town or two over from Boxford, MA is Topsfield, where you'll find Bradley W. Palmer State Park.  It's easy to get to off Route 1.  The State Park is a series of rolling hills with trails, and one side of the park borders the Ipswich River. 

Hikers, bikers, horses, X-C skiers, and snowshoers are welcome, and in the warmer weather there's a canoe rental company down on the Ipswich that'll set you up for some paddling.  Some trails are wheelchair accessible.

Maps are available at the park headquarters, and we spent a few hours making our own route through the park, under Michael's direction.  The weather for our walk was just fine, if a little chilly in the open fields when the wind was up.

It turns out that Your Webmaster had been there once before many years ago, but the walk wasn't as extensive, and we didn't see the main man-made feature of the property, the mansion.


The final part of our walk was along the Ipswich to a boardwalk where we spotted an old boathouse.    It turns out that's just down the hill from the old mansion that sits on the site.    The mansion was closed, but we had a look around and could peek through the windows.  After pausing there for a while we went back to the cars.

A late lunch topped off the day.

Thanks, Mike, for cooking up a nice alternative to our Boxford State Forest amble!