Douglas State Park in Douglas, MA is probably best known for its swimming and boating. Lots of folks enjoy fishing there, and with hundreds of picnic tables set up near the water, it’s clearly a favorite spot for families to gather in the summer.
I’m not really a summer person. I tend to visit “seasonal” places like Wallum Lake at the state park in Douglas in the “off” season, when the crowds have gone home. All the picnic tables were empty the day we visited. The only folks we encountered walked in the company of their dogs.
A few weeks ago I walked the Coffeehouse loop trail at Douglas State park, and discovered that it is truly not an Easy Walk. Rock ledges were very cool to see, but several spots required that I get a hoist up them–the steps between ledges were simply too steep for me to manage, despite skilled use of walking sticks. Roots and rocks made up a substantial portion of the 2+ mile loop trail, and I was pretty glad when we got back to the car.
On my return to Douglas State Park to investigate the Cedar Swamp trail, we encountered the Coffeehouse loop again on our way to the Cedar swamp. The Coffeehouse loop intersects both the Mid-state trail and the
SNETT (and the Cedar Swamp trail) along its 2+ mile circuit.
The Cedar Swamp trail was marked as “Heart Healthy” on the map. According to the MA DCR (Division of Conservation and Recreation), Heart Healthy trails are marked on state park trail maps with little hearts, are approximately 1.5 miles in length, and are easy to moderate in difficulty.
The trail to the Cedar Swamp starts right around where the Nature Center is, near the shore of Wallum Lake. The first portion of the trail is basically an unpaved service road, quite easy, on a bit of an incline.
The entrance to the cedar swamp was not well-marked. There was a sign warning that the trail was slippery–this was not a good sign (to me).
Despite my trepidation, the walk through the cedar swamp was very interesting. We found a few spots that were indeed, rather slippery–the board walk was slick in places so we walked very carefully.
It was very cool to be in the midst of the cedar swamp–lots of green sphagnum moss, cedar trees, and a massive blow down of trees, all blown in one direction, making us wonder what weather event caused such a noticeable change in the swamp.
For those who are ready to enjoy more challenge along the trail, the Coffeehouse Loop can be a lot of fun. But for those of us who have challenges with our footing, or who tire easily, the Cedar Swamp trail is a better bet, or perhaps even simply walking the SNETT, which travels through Douglas State Park.
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! New England Regional Chair for the Association of Personal Historians, she is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com