A Spring Visit to Woodward Forest
Woodward Forest on Gateway Lane, just off Old Taunton Avenue is a great place to start your exploration of Land Preservation Society properties. Purchased in 1979, it has well developed trails through stands of white pine, mixed hardwood forest, along two rivers and past a large vernal pool. !
We headed off for a spring walk in early April. The vernal pools were full and some of the intermittent streams were flowing briskly. It is always a good idea to wear good waterproof shoes, long pants and a hat. Tick repellant also comes in handy!!
Our goal for this walk was to evaluate the paths for winter storm damage, and assess where clean up and path widening was necessary in preparation for a
Boy Scout Troop 12 Service Day on April 12th. We were also excited about walking a new path, developed by Board Member Jon Rowe, which leads down to the Wading River.!
The main path enters the woods and in a short distance comes to a T. We turned left and headed along the orange trail until it met up with the blue and white trail. Thanks to helpful volunteers, all the trails are well marked. Maps are available on the LPS web site and in a box near the entrance to the trail. This is mostly white pine forest (5 leaves to a bundle on white pines). You can estimate the age of young white pine trees by counting the layers of branches. At a spot marked 11 on the blue and white trail we headed off onto the new blue trail toward the river. This becomes a typical New England mixed forest with evergreens and hardwood trees. !
Not many spring plants were out but we did see some spotted pipsissewa or spotted wintergreen leaves (Chiamaphala maculata) poking out from under the leaf litter. Soon others will appear. You may see Wood Anemones (Anemone quiinquefolia), Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum candense), and Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule). Several varieties of club mosses grow in
these woods as well as a variety of ferns. Bring along your flower guide and your non-flowering plant guide and see what you can find. !
This land used to be farmland. You will encounter stone walls and cart paths as you walk along. Here and there you can see a “wolf tree” or field form tree that began its life in a field that eventually became woodland. Field form trees have wide horizontal branches, a very different shape from trees that have grown up in woodlands and have lost many of their lower branches (self pruning). Note the canopy (tall trees), the under canopy (shorter trees) and the shrub level. Most of the trees here have grown up since the devastation of the hurricane of 1938. !
When we reached the Wading River we were all delighted! It is such a pretty river and the sound of water is so soothing. The water was high and flowing along to its meeting with the Rumford River to form the Three-Mile River. This is the only cleared path to a river on the Woodward land and it is a beautiful walk. !
Our return trip took us back to a shortcut to the orange path at marker 12 on the map. There we found the large vernal pool –
source of the loud quacking sounds of the wood frogs during their mating season. We didn’t stop to hunt for spotted salamanders, but we know they have been seen here.!
Owen Galvin has provided trail guides and a nature walk as part of his Eagle Project on this land. Handouts are available in a box near the entrance. There is also a letterboxing challenge in Woodward Forest developed by a local Girl Scout, Chelsea Robinson (http://www.letterboxing.org - look for HoppinHappy). Both of these activities can add to the enjoyment of a day outdoors.!
The Woodward Forest calls for a visit during each season. It is a storybook site for learning about New England forests. The walk took about two hours, but we weren’t walking quickly and we stopped often to look at things. ~LK

Boy Scout Troop 12 recently worked very hard to improve the trails in Woodward Forest. Thanks for a Great Job!

By Linda Kollett 2014