Knowing how we like to take walks and hikes, but realizing the constraints of staying close to home, my brother-in-law, Kerry, recommended Borderland State Park as a pleasant place to spend an afternoon and he was definitely right.
Only about 20 minutes away, this park encompasses nearly 1,800 acres of woodlands, fields, ponds and unique geological formations. On the border of the towns of Sharon and Easton, this former country estate is aptly named Borderland. The name seems even more appropriate when we learned that the park’s land marked the territorial boundary between the Massachusetts and Wampanoag tribes that hunted and fished here before the first white settlers arrived in the 1690s.
The park's geography is a mix of hills and flat lands with a resultant blend of natural habitats for wildlife and flora. In some areas, huge boulders can be seen, transported by the glaciers that covered this area hundreds of millennia ago. Old hard-packed dirt carriage roads now criss-cross the property and foot trails circle the ponds and lead deeper in the woodlands.
We always look for wildlife and were most amazed by the number of turtles we saw. The snappers we expected, but one log sported six or more endangered Blanding's turtles, which were all quite occupied trying to increase their population levels.
Ground squirrels and gray squirrels were scurrying about. Bees buzzed and did their pollinating job on the blossoming trees and shrubs. There were lots of purple martins which had taken up residence in the many bird houses placed throughout the park.
The estate itself belonged to the Ames family until the 1970's and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A 20-room English-style stone mansion surrounded by gardens, meadows and trees is the centerpiece of the entrance area. Tours are offered, but the day was too beautiful for studying architecture and walking through fancy houses.
We chose a 3-mile trail which took us around Leach Pond. It's not filled with leeches nor is it a “leaching” pond, but rather named after General Shepherd Leach who dammed a stream and flooded a swamp to provide water for a foundry downstream. Scenes from the movie Shutter Island were filmed along the pond's edge. The views as we walked along were gorgeous. Benches are placed strategically along the route for resting or just watching. There's a bird blind for observing the waders and water fowl. Red-winged blackbirds were abundant, flitting from cattail to cattail. From the looks of it, water lilies will be blooming soon.
It appears there will be lots more to do and discover here. There's a myriad of trails throughout the park's expanse. Canoeing, fishing and horseback riding are allowed. There's a lovely shaded picnic area under a grove of trees. There's a a disc golf course (aka Frisbee golf) which took us awhile to figure out. The welcome center has a long list of park activities posted and yet there were only a handful of people here on a warm, sunny spring day. Guess everyone had to work or go to school … lucky us.