Birchwold Farm in Spring

Open fields offer lots of sunshine on a blue-sky day
Listen here

Warmer days offer a great excuse to get outdoors (as though we need an excuse). Grass is poking up through the soil. Maple trees are setting out buds that trim the woods’ edges with a reddish hue. My spring favorite, skunk cabbage, unfurls its shiny, rubbery looking shoots on the edge of, and sometimes in the middle of woodland streams and wetlands.

Multiple benches offer places to rest along the way

Our visit to Birchwold Farm in Wrentham, MA was a choice made later in the day after chores had taken precedence. The conservation area is nearby, with lots of open areas that offer sunshine on a blue-sky day. Benches throughout the property and even picnic tables, offer hospitality for visitors looking to extend their stay or simply spend time with family and/or friends.

We stopped at the trail kiosk next to the parking area and saw a sign alerting visitors to the presence of woodcocks in the area. These birds have a spectacular courtship dance that is performed at dawn and dusk at the edge of large open fields. We were too early to catch the dance the day of our visit but we hope to return before all the courting is done for the season. Although woodcocks are shorebirds, their preference is young woodlands and shrubby fields (like Birchwold Farm). They are hard to spot since they blend in with leaf litter, but you may hear their “peent” call when they are hidden from sight.

One of many of the mowed paths that make for easy walking at Birchwold Farm

Mowed paths criss-cross the open field, reducing (not eliminating) the chance of tick encounters. The conservation area is a favorite for dog walkers, but has enough trails and open space so we were able to give other visitors room to enjoy the quiet.

Large boulders at the edge of the field, and small streams flowing through the woods are all part of this conservation area. I grew up in South Florida where boulders of any kind are scarce. Rock ledge and glacial erratics, so common in New England’s woods, still make me smile. Of course, I am not trying to make a living farming in what can be rugged landscape.

The streams we saw on our walk meander through the woods, in no rush to reach their final destination. Spring rains have arrived, but have not filled waterways to the brim. We paused to listen to their murmuring, gently chuckling liquid voices as the streams found their way from one small pool to the next. Their woodland traverse is muted until more substantial rains increase the speed at which they hurry toward their destination–the sea.

Parts of this area have some challenging footing, but by keeping to the open field visitors can enjoy a true Easy Walk that is quite level, with few if any roots and no rocks to watch out for. Come for a brief walkabout, or stay for a picnic. Birchwold Farm has room for short or extended walks on the property. If you’re able, stop by at dusk (or if you are an early riser, at dawn!). If you are lucky, you may catch woodcocks doing their best to attract a mate. Warmer weather is coming. Happy trails!


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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