Enter the property from South Mill Street by going through the woods on a right-of-way opposite Penny Meadow Lane, behind an oak tree near the wall between 42 and 44 South Mill Street. There is no signage yet. There is no off-street parking at the trailhead, but there are pullouts along the street 800 feet north on the causeway by Bloods Pond.
Cold Spring Brook, a perennial stream that feeds Bloods Pond and eventually Ashland Reservoir, bisects this property. The parcel has a little of everything: in addition to a river walk, there is a wildflower meadow left over from a former beaver pond, a cranberry bog, spillways for an old mill, extensive swamps, open forest, and unusual topography: long narrow hills up to 30’ high that are the remnants of glacial moraines that have been quarried for their gravel, now forested over. Because it is surrounded by extensive wetlands, the property feels larger and more remote than its size would indicate.
The main trail is currently unmarked, but easy walking (except in very wet conditions) on an old quarry road once you get through the brush at the South Mill Street entrance. Try not to venture onto private property on either side of the right-of-way until the trail becomes an old road. The road first goes due west to an old cranberry bog. It’s now mostly taken over by grasses, but if you look closely you can see cranberry plants.
Then it turns right (north), meandering between steep hills on both sides that are left over from quarrying operations. The land has since forested over so much that you would be hard-pressed to tell that there was ever a quarry here. At one point the trail ventures up a little hill above a deep vernal pool on the right. Off the far end of that pool a channel was cut, apparently by the quarry company to drain the pool at high water into the nearby wetland.
The trail eventually takes you to Cold Spring Brook over a culvert, but in high water the brook flows over the rocky crossing of the trail as well. From here can take a side excursion to the right along the bank of the brook for a while, but eventually you will have to cross the brook to continue. The crossing at the culvert is 40’ wide, but usually very shallow and often dry, because most of the water is diverted through the culvert. At high water there are stepping stones that may help, but don’t count on their stability, so you may get wet feet crossing the brook.
At the crossing, look upstream to the left to view two large concrete spillways, undoubtedly for a former mill—you may have to bushwhack a little to see them. Cold Spring Brook apparently supported two other mills downstream, much easier to get to from the road. See additional information below for a description.
Continuing on the old road after the brook crossing, the main trail continues between more steep hills, and eventually terminates at the north edge of the property, when you are within sight of houses and can hear cars on Front Street. While the trail may seem to continue, the land past this point to Front Street is private property.
You must turn around and exit the property the way you came in, so pay attention to your path so you don’t get lost.
Size: 39.8 acres
Acquired: 2010 and 2013
The northern ¾ of the property was donated by Jack and John Braim who owned most of the property, then forested, on both sides of South Mill St., when the portions along South Mill St. and Front St. were subdivided for house lots. The southern ¼ was donated a few years later by the developer of the lots in that area.
Much of the trail follows the path of an old gravel road from South Mill Street to Front Street that was likely used in the 1960’s and earlier for quarrying operations. A portion of that road is now blocked by house lots, but a trail has been cut around them. The portion of that gravel road beginning at South Mill Street can be seen on the latest (1987) U.S. Geological Survey topographic map, which also shows the cranberry bog as a small pond. Note the gravel pit symbol in the center.
Bushwhacking, Cross Country Skiing, Hiking/Walking, Vernal Pool, Woods Trail
If you parked on the causeway at Bloods Pond, then before getting back into your car, walk north along the causeway to where the road goes over two stone spillways, historically restored by the town in 2004. This is the site of Perry’s Mill, after which South Mill Street was named, and the Hopkinton Historical Commission has erected a plaque describing it. See the Mighton Woods page for a description of the other mill on Cold Spring Brook at North Mill Street.