Friday, September 7, 2012

Harold Parker State Forest, Andover, MA

August 31 & September 1, 2012
Distance: ? & 3.5 miles
Time: ?
Map: Harold Parker State Forest Map
Parking: There are several parking areas. For my second hike I parked in the large lot at the intersection of Jenkins Road & Berry Pond Road.
Restrooms: none
Post hike dinner: Whole Foods, Andover

On my first evening hike here, I meandered. Most trails are not blazed. It is easy to get lost. Carry a map! Maybe a compass as well. Some intersections are marked so you can find your location on the map. But there are many small trails, unmarked.

On my second evening hike here, I mostly followed the yellow diamond trail, which is a fully blazed lollypop trail. From parking lot, walk on paved Berry Pond Road (no cars) to junction A4 (labeled with a post). Turn right onto the yellow diamond trail. Continue to A3 then NA17. Shortly, there will be a small "Loop" sign. Turn right to start the loop around Salem Pond (counterclockwise). The trail starts above the pond, but eventually descends down towards the pond. Pass NA11 marker. At NA12 marker, I turned left (leaving the yellow diamond trail) to follow the pond due to time constraints. I stayed hugging the pond, and rejoined the yellow diamond trail. Hike back to the intersection with the "Loop" sign - I was worried about missing it (it felt like I was starting the loop around the lake again) - but didn't. Continue on the yellow diamond trail, retracing steps. At A3, I turned left onto unpaved Harold Parker Road as a short cut to reach the parking lot, since it was getting dark.

At both parking lots I parked at, there were people hanging out in their cars. This seems like a wealthy area, but I never feel comfortable when non-hikers hang out in trailhead parking lots. The sign also said there may be plain clothed policemen in the park - another thing that makes me nervous - why are police needed?

A sign at the beginning of the hike said that hunting is allowed year round in the park, and suggested wearing blaze orange. Hunting is not allowed within so many feet of the roads in the park, nor the bike trails. I believe the yellow diamond trail is a bike trail. This area has many mountain bike trails.
I wasn't too worried since deer season hadn't begun, and I was on a bike trail. I would stay out of this park during deer hunting season though.

Salem Lake was swimmable for dogs. We didn't have time for much of a swim though. Berry Pond (in a different section of the park) is open some years for human swimming (though not this year). It might be another good place to check out for dog swimming.

The trail marking for the yellow blaze trail was pretty good. On the previous day when I was not following that trail, I got lost a lot. I had a blown up copy of the trail map, but using EveryTrail was extremely useful - as all of the trails were marked on it - so I could see exactly where I was.

Notice about hunting
Start out on the paved road
Numbers on stakes correspond to locations on the trail map.
Following the yellow diamond trail
The sign showing the loop around the lake
Overlooking the lake - which is filled with plants
Sunset on far side of the lake
Stopping for a very quick swim
Post hike nap

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