Conservation, Featured Forest

Rocky Pond Community Forest

Jun. 29, 2018
A rock outcropping by the shore of Rocky Pond

Located along the border of Boylston and Northborough, Mass., Rocky Pond Community Forest offers a 1.5 mile trail along the shoreline and through a forest of white pine, mixed oak and other hardwoods, with parking lots on either side. This makes the location an ideal spot for a short hike that includes water and forest views as well as an interesting diversity of rocks, big and small.

New England Forestry Foundation acquired parcels for this property over the course of 21 years, starting in 1980 with a 161.2-acre donation from Gertrude E. Falby. Over the course of the following two decades, NEFF’s Rocky Pond property grew to 201 acres. This acquisition of multiple parcels was part of an important goal of NEFF’s to offer an accessible and attractive property to the public.

Large rocks left behind by the glaciers, called glacial erratics, are one of the prime points of interest at Rocky Pond. Covered in a diversity of lichens such as the large leaf-like rock tripe, these massive rocks scattered in the forest, on the shore, and in Rocky Pond itself suggest a variety of ideal spots for a picnic, a solitary wildlife-viewing station, or simply a photo-opp. In addition to these glacial erratics, there is an appealing boulder field and several classic New England stone walls scattered throughout the forest. Visitors with an appreciation for rocks, water, or forests are sure to find something captivating at Rocky Pond Community Forest.

About once every ten to fifteen years, NEFF facilitates a harvest on a portion of Rocky Pond Community Forest. The 2018 harvest will demonstrate NEFF’s Exemplary Forestry practices by promoting regeneration of native species well-suited to the site and providing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities while also growing high quality timber resources. The harvest itself will primarily focus on thinning low quality hardwoods, salvaging timber damaged in recent ice storms, and selecting for mature sawtimber. Given that very little young forest habitat currently exists at Rocky Pond, this harvest will not only demonstrate the commercial value of sustainable forestry management without damaging the character of Rocky Pond, but also enhance wildlife habitat diversity.

Historically, this rural region of Massachusetts has been focused on farming and forestry practices. As housing developments have increased, however, Rocky Pond Community Forest has continued to offer an important and welcoming year-round retreat for outdoor enthusiasts that will maintain the historical use and natural wonders of this particular spot for generations to come.

Visit Rocky Pond

Visiting NEFF Community Forests like Rocky Pond has never been easier. With our online Forest Finder Tool, you can navigate right to the trailhead using your mobile device. Go to newenglandforestry.org/explore/explore-our-forests, click on the forest you want to explore, and click “Get Directions.” See you on the trail!

Writing by Hazel Stark, photography by Carson Hauck