West Hill Dam–What a Difference a Year Makes

Ice patterns along the trail

As often as we have visited nearby West Hill Dam in Uxbridge, I am still surprised by what we find. One visit offered views of a bedraggled Great horned owl, sitting in stunned silence in the daytime after having been ravaged by a fierce rainstorm the night before. Another visit revealed a large flock of nighthawks circling over the filed next to the dam. Several trips have led to new trails recently built, or else much better marked than in the past.

View of West River, below the spillway

This visit offered two new discoveries. One, a small trail accessed from the back, less traveled side of the dam, to a pretty spot alongside the West River, downstream from the spillway. Picnic tables and granite benches invite visitors to stay awhile alongside the river. Another spot on the far side of the open field opened up to a newly mowed field. There we found a small side trail, a hillside garden, and a cluster of milkweed pods.

Patch of milkweeds, ready for monarch butterflies next year

On our way back we encountered an old friend from the Army Corps, Ron Woodall, on the trail. He explained that he’s passionate about trails and has been focused on creating new trails, improving trail markings, and had the newly opened field mowed and removed invasives. We talked briefly about planning Easy Walks at West Hill dam in the spring. 

Food for birds alongside the trail

My photo filing system for outdoor photos includes the date when I visited each location. As I filed my most recent photos from our visit this past weekend, I realized it was just about a year ago when a group of us ventured out on icy, snow-covered trails in this same area. We have had snow this year, but right now the trails are mostly clear, with mere hints of ice in small areas. The cold is setting in for the winter, most of the leaves are gone, but we await real snow cover. Happy trails!

Snow covered field one year ago
Ice covered trail from one year ago–reminders of things to come


beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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