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Carlisle, MA

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Conservation and Recreation areas

Duck Pond and Tour Barn, Great Brook State Park, Carlisle, MA
Great Brook Farm State Park

About 25% of Carlisle is protected conservation land, which makes for excellent recreational opportunities. The following is a list of conservation and recreational lands in Carlisle. Complete trail maps are available in the 'Trails in Carlisle' Booklet, compiled by the Carlisle Trails Committee. The booklet is available for purchase at the Town Hall. Check other regional town halls for published maps of their towns. Noteworthy, are those in Lincoln, Harvard and Wayland. The National Park in Concord offers a walkway from Lincoln to Concord and the Old North Bridge to commemorate Battles of the revolution and the role of Concord area Minutemen.

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Banta-Davis Land:

Approximately 40 acres; Cross country skiing, hiking, soccer/baseball/softball. Trails on the Banta-Davis Land link Spaulding Field and the town center with Rodgers Road. One can continue down Rodgers Road to Stearns Street and then pick up the Two Rod Road trail that leads to Concord.  Please view the Happy Trails article on page 10 in the 11 Nov 2011 issue of the Carlisle Mosquito. 

Benfield Land:

71 acres of undeveloped woodland, bounded by Pope Road and West Street, donated to the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF) in 2001 to be devoted to "conservation purposes." Those purposes "may include hiking and other passive recreation," but only after expiration of the "life estate" which he reserved on the property during his lifetime.
Benfield grants another seventy-one acres for conservation
Open letter of appreciation
Please view the Happy Trails article on page 10 in the 21 Oct 2011 issue of the Carlisle Mosquito for information about the new wildlife viewing platform.
See also pictures and a trail map at :

Bisbee-Land (35 acres) and Spencer Brook Reservation (31.5 acres):

Open fields along Concord Street that slope into the woods and wetland mark the approach to Carlisle from Concord. The lowland portion lies in the Spencer Brook valley, an important Carlisle water source. The Spencer Brook Reservation is largely wetlands with some lovely fields.   [satellite view]

Carlisle Pines:

In 1901 a tract of over one hundred virgin white pines was saved from logging and given to the Appalachian Mountain Club to hold as a public reservation. According to Sidney A. Bull in his 'History of the Town of Carlisle Massachusetts 1754 - 1920, many were over 100 feet tall, and may have already been mature trees at the time of the Revolutionary War. Today only about a half a dozen are still standing. They remain impressive, and are joined by several ancient hemlocks. The 22-acre property is now managed by nearby Great Brook Farm State Park.  [satellite view]

Clark Farm:

Sixty-four scenic acres of Clark Farm, including the hayfields visible from Concord and School Streets, were placed under permanent conservation restriction by the Wilson and Clark families in 2003.

(Photo by Midge Eliassen)

Conant Land: Map

This 57-acre property lies on and behind the Fire Station and the new Town Hall. The land is mostly wooded, and contains hills and wetlands, stonewalls, a pond, and a large ledge outcropping called Castle Rock. The land is frequently visited by Carlisle school classes studying natural history. Looping trails connect to a north-south trail, which connects to the Old Morse Road Trail which in turn eventually reaches Curve Street and the Cranberry bog. Approximately 57 acres; Cross country skiing, hiking.

Cranberry Bog:

Approximately. 310 acres, half in Carlisle (151 acres) and half in Chelmsford; Carlisle's half includes about 40 acres of actual cranberry bog. This is the site of the last continuously working cranberry bog in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The Nickles brothers of Carlisle began the bog in the late 1800's. Chelmsford and Carlisle bought the 300+ acre bog and adjoining lands for almost 2 million dollars to protect it from development in the year 1986. Mark Duffy currently farms the 40 acres of actual cranberry bog for the Town of Carlisle. Berries (click for photo) from the bog are on sale at the ice cream stand at Great Brook Farm State Park. The rest of the land contains large ponds, wooded uplands and wetlands. The land is rich in wildlife. Activities include an interpretive trail, cross country skiing, hiking, horseback riding. Cranberry picking usually begins around Oct 15th. Three fruits - the Concord Grape, the blueberry, and the cranberry can trace their roots to North America.

See Mark Duffy riding a cranberry beater, October 2004 (photo credit Ellen Huber, Carlisle Mosquito
More information is available in the Carlisle Mosquito's archives, search on cranberry.

On the web, search on 'The History of the Chelmsford Carlisle Cranberry Bog' by Susan B. Pickford, Tazewell

Davis Corridor:

Approximately. 112 acres, purchased 1974-79, ties to the Two Rod Road Trail which goes into Harvard University's Estabrook Woods. Two Rod Road dates from 1744, and is named for its width - there are two rods, or 33 feet, between the stone walls that border much of the trail. Estabrook Woods is a 675-acre forest located partly in Carlisle and partly in Concord. Two Rod Road leads in about two miles to the Punkatasset Hill conservation area in Concord. Davis Corridor and Malcolm Lands can be viewed at the Carlisle Trails web page and also below at conservation web page for nearby Concord .

Estabrook Woods:

Estabrook Woods is a 675-acre forest located partly in Carlisle and mostly in Concord. Two Rod Road, accessed from the Stearns Street bend, leads in about two miles to the Punkatasset Hill conservation area in Concord.

Foss Farm:

Approximately 57 acres, purchased in 1971; Borders the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and the Concord River. The Refuge land is closed to the public. There are many trails winding through the property. The land is flat, and the dirt road to the gardens and some of the other trails are wheelchair accessible. Cross country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, public gardens.

Fox Hill:

Approximately 11 acres, purchased 1980; contains a large field visible from Bedford Road and Stearns Street. Hidden from view is a second, hilly field. There is also a patch of woods and a small stream. The fields are mowed by a local farmer. Dog walking and horseback riding are popular here.

Great Brook Farm State Park:

Approximately 934 acres; The >park was created in the 1970's; it contains great variety of habitats, including fields and forest, several ponds and Tophet Swamp. Parking lots by the dairy barn on North Road and by the ski barn on Lowell Street provide access to an extensive trail system. Non motor boating, cross country skiing, skating, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, ice cream.     Great Brook On line trail map  
Hint: View using File / Print Preview, increase magnification to 200 for more resolution.

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge:

Travel guide
Great Meadows, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Greenough Land:

Approximately 242 acres, purchased in 1973. Eight adjoining acres in Billerica are owned by the private Carlisle Conservation Foundation; In winter, people cross-country sky along the trails, and the large pond is popular for ice-skating. Hiking and horseback riding can be enjoyed on trails near hay fields, the 15 acre Greenough Pond, wetlands, 1800 feet of frontage on the Concord River, and pine groves.  [satellite view]

Mark and Rachel Page Elliott River Preserve:

Approximately 9 acres; Includes a wooded bluff seen to the south from bridge over the Concord River on Route 225. Nearly 1000 feet of frontage on the river, abuts the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and contains Priority Habitat for a state-listed rare species. Please view the Elliot Farm article on page 9 in the 21 Oct 2011 issue of the Carlisle Mosquito for more information. 

River Meadows National Fish & Wildlife:

O'Rourke Land, approximately 129 acres. The site is sandwiched in between the Greenough Land to the north, and the Great Meadows National WildLife Refuge to the south. A new 6-mile public River Trail network including 200 feet of boardwalk is accessed from trailhead parking lots on the south at the Foss Farm Conservation Area on Route 225 and the Greenough Land on the north, near the Billerica line on Maple Street. The entire 620 acre 'river reservation' along the Concord River also includes a portion of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.

Spencer Brook Reservation:

31 acres deeded to CCF in 1960 by A. E. "Ben" Benfield.
Photo by Susan Goodall, Carlisle Mosquito),   [satellite view]

A flock of sheep, one shepherd and three dogs go to work in Carlisle
Carlisle Comments Spencer Brook Reservation's herding dogs have personality

Towle Land:

Approximately 112 acres, first major piece of conservation land purchased by town in 1968-80; Cross country skiing, hiking. Contains a rich variety of terrain. Rolling fields, rocky hills in the surronding woods, small streams and wetlands. There is also a small pond near the Westford Street parking area. Once common in North America, bobolinks still nest in Towle Field, after wintering in South Ammerica. Towle Field is mowed in the summer to give the bobolinks time to finish their nesting season. Near the small pond by the parking lot is a cow tunnel built around 1912 the runs beneath Westford Street near the speed limit sign.

The Redcoats are coming?
The Tunnel
Counting sheep · by the millions
A flock of sheep, one shepherd and three dogs go to work in Carlisle

Town Forest:

Approximately 69 acres; Cross country skiing, hiking. The land slopes down from the road to a wetland. Behind the wetland, the central portion of the forest contains a network of looping trails. The adjoining 8-acre Heidke conservation land is primarily wetland.  [satellite view]

Local Conservation Organizations:

Carlisle Conservation Commission

Conservation Restriction Advisory Committee (CRAC)
CRAC maintains a database of conservation restrictions (CRs) and monitors them to ensure they are maintained appropriately. CRAC advises the Conservation Commission on issues pertaining to CR violations, and other matters regarding conservation restrictions. CRAC members are appointed by the selectmen.

CRAC's mission is to raise awareness of CRs so people know what steps to take when dealing with a CR on their property.

Carlisle Conservation Foundation
Founded in 1960 the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF) is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to receive, acquire and protect open land as well as to promote conservation in Carlisle. It was founded with the mission of preserving the natural beauties and the rural character of Carlisle. A Board of Trustees, all residents of Carlisle, heads the Foundation.

Carlisle Land Trust
The Carlisle Land Trust was formed and is operated to benefit and carry out the purposes of Carlisle Conservation Foundation.

Carlisle Pesticide Awareness Group (CPAG)
Our purpose is to educate residents about the health hazards of using pesticides and about safer alternatives and methods of taking care of our land (lawn, garden and fields), including organic approaches and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods.

The long-term goal of the group is to create a healthier environment for our residents, animals, and the ecology of our forests and wetlands, inhabited by a diverse population of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians, insects, and flora. We would also try to educate residents about use of other toxic chemicals in the home, especially those that go down the drain into septic systems, and eventually into our drinking water system.

Carlisle Trails Committee
See this MapMaster page for detailed PDF maps of the various conservation land areas in town.

Other Local Massachusetts Town Conservation Web Pages

Acton, MA
Bedford, MA
Concord, MA Carlisle's Davis Corridor meets up with Two Rod Road in Carlisle which crosses over into Concord as shown on the Estabrook Woods / Punkatasset Conservation Land segment of their townwide map. (See trail on eastern most border of the Harvard Univeristy land.)   Two Rod Road is one of Carlisle's earlist roads to/from Concord. It is a leave strewn 33 foot wide path, a delightful hike, especially during the Fall and Winter seasons. See Davis Corridor below in the Concord trails section
Chelmsford, MA
Sudbury, MA

Additional State and National Conservation Organizations:

Massachusetts Audubon Society, Lincoln, Massachusetts The National Audubon Society, New York, NY The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia
NOAA has established this State of the Coast Report as a vehicle or forum for the discussion of coastal issues and the communication of coastal information The Trustees of Reservations, Beverly, Massachusetts Appalachian Mountain Club

Sudbury Valley Trustees
Sudbury Valley Trustees is a regional land trust, founded in 1953 by a few foresighted individuals who recognized that change, planned or unplanned, has a significant impact on the environment, on the region, and on the quality of everyday life in our communities. Today, over 3,000 members support SVT’s work in 36 communities around the watershed of the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers.

SVT carries out its mission, to protect wildlife habitat and the ecological integrity of the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers Valley for the benefit of present and future generations through land acquisition and stewardship, advocacy and education, in partnership with towns, watershed associations, and other environmental organizations within the greater Concord River Basin, as well as with individuals and businesses. SVT’s efforts have a direct impact and influence on the quality of life of more than 650,000 residents in the region.

Of specical interest is the Ralph Hill conservation area off Treble Cove Road in Billerica which is just a mile from Carlisle's north eastern border

Middlesex Conservation District
The Middlesex Conservation District helps landowners and municipalities identify natural resource concerns and plan solutions. We were founded in 1947 as a not for profit division of state government dedicated to the conservation of soil and water in Middlesex County. We are guided by an elected volunteer Board of Supervisors and work in partnership with federal, state and local agencies and organizations. The district’s goal is to help people in the wise management of land and natural resources by offering technical assistance and information.

Massahussetts Community Preservation Act, by Citizens Housing and Planning Association
The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a new tool to help communities preserve open space and historic sites and create affordable housing. This web site has been created to assist individuals and municipalities in understanding and implementing the CPA.

Land Trusts Near You, Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition
Purposes of the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition
  1. Increase the effectiveness of land trusts and conservation organizations in Massachusetts in working with the legislature and governmental agencies on issues of direct interest to the conservation movement.
  2. Promote high ethical and professional standards as outlined in the Land Trust Alliance Statement of Standards and Practices for Land Trusts. Members agree to support this Statement as a general guide for their work.
  3. Assist The Trustees of Reservations in organizing and presenting the annual Massachusetts Land Trust Conference.
  4. Provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, skills, and information within the conservation movement.

From the beaches of Cape Cod, the river floodplains of central Massachusetts, and the clear mountain streams of the Berkshires, our natural resources belong to all residents of the Commonwealth. MassWildlife, your state fish and wildlife agency, works to conserve and manage our wildlife heritage by offering expertise and assistance, addressing issues involving wildlife and habitat, and making sure people understand and comply with laws designed to protect our populations of wild plants and animals. We balance the needs of people and wildlife today so that wildlife will be available for our enjoyment tomorrow and always.

Walden Woods
The Walden Woods Project aims to protect the landscapes of Walden Woods and Thoreau Country in recognition of their worldwide literary, historical, and environmental significance, and their capacity to motivate others to identify, study, and protect the Waldens that exist in their community. Since its founding, the organization has protected six properties in Walden Woods from inappropriate development. Totaling 140 acres, all are located in Walden Woods

Plum Island Refuge
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites you to visit Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, near Newburyport, Massachusetts. The refuge occupies in part, the southern three-fourths of Plum Island, an 8 mile (12.9 kilometer) barrier island, and offers excellent wildlife-oriented recreational and educational opportunities with visitor facilities and programs provided to enhance your experience.
(Note: Look into National Park Entrance Pass Programs - Golden Eagle, Golden Age Passport, Golden Access Passport.)

Regional Parks and Reservations:

Lowell National Historical Park
Minuteman National Park
Walden Pond State Reservation
Massachusetts - Walking, Hiking and Biking - search on Malcolm Preserve
Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway
A permanent recreation trail and greenway corridor extending through 21 towns in Eastern Massachusetts and linking the parks and open spaces surrounding metropolitan Boston.

RESTORE: The Maine Woods National Park and Preserve:

The RESTORE North Woods organization has a unique mission - to restore, preserve, and defend wild nature in the North Woods. Local writer Henry David Thoreau called for a "national preserve" in the Maine Woods 150 years ago. RESTORE has proposed a new Maine Woods National Park and Preserve worthy of Thoreau's vision.

The Maine Woods National Park, a 3.2 million acre wild land, would truly be the “Yellowstone of the East.” As a vast core wilderness, the Park would anchor a system of ecological reserves stretching to the Adirondacks on the west, the Central Appalachians on the south, and Canada on the north.

For more info check out their website.

RESTORE: The North Woods Massachusetts Office PO Box 1099 Concord, Massachusetts 01742 Phone: 978-287-0320 Fax: 978-287-5771

Global Issues:

Read "Crimes Against Nature" by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ISBN: 0-06-074687-4

Tomgram: Chip Ward on lions and tigers and bears (oh my!)

...Amid the general environmental bad news that envelops our world, there are distinct sparks of hope and creative thinking, including the attempts of scientists, environmentalists, and others to re-imagine our relationships with even the largest and most dangerous of animals, those capable of preying on us....

Global Warning / Introduction - Magazine of the National Audubon Society

The White House may be dragging its heels on The Greatest Environmental Threat facing the planet today. But across the political spectrum, Republicans, Democrats, governors, senators, and industry leaders agree that climate change is for real and must be dealt with—now.

Global Peak Oil

One important issue not understood by the general population is the impending geological phenomenon known as "Peak Oil." It is extremely unfortunate that our corporate-controlled media conglomerates do not report on the significance of global Peak Oil. It would seem the European community is openly discussing this issue, and trying to make preparations to reduce their overall energy consumption.. ====>  full article

Hubbert Peak of Oil Production

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas

The Effects of Global Warming

The Price of Climate Change Global warming has already touched all seven continents as icebergs melt, oceans rise and nature reacts. While climate change can't be blamed for any one head wave or flood, scientists predict that a hotter planet will suffer more incidents of extreme weather.


Permission to use the cranberry vine image granted by The Cape Cod Cranberry Grower's Association, Wareham, Ma (508)295-4895 x13

Site descriptions derived in part from the 'Trails in Carlisle' booklet compiled by the Carlisle Trails Committee and published by the Carlisle Conservation Commission in June, 1994.

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