Douglas State Forest – Wallis Pond Loop Trail

Location: Douglas, MA

Links: AllTrails; Trail Map PDF

Date: April 12, 2018

Time: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Hike Duration: 4 hours; 6 miles

Fitness Stats: 15,500 steps; 25 floors

Weather: SUNNY! 35-55 degrees F

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Our lunch with a view

It’s not so apparent in the above picture, but we actually had a sunny day for the majority of this hike. The sky became overcast for the last hour, but for the most part we enjoyed the way the sun’s rays shine happiness deep into the mind.

Despite the fact that we are still seeing temps dropping into the 20’s, that we had snow this past Monday and woke up to a frost on Wednesday, spring has sprung. I can hear the almost deafening chorus of peeper’s outside as I sit in my living room typing this. We had a daffodil blossom in our back yard this week. And the buds are really beginning to pop on the trees.

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The only trouble with early spring hikes is not knowing how to dress. It’s a big adjustment when you’re starting a hike at 35 degrees and ending it at 57. At 9 am we were happy to have on our light thermals with a jacket and winter hat. By 11 am, not so much! Layers are key for sure.

We discovered this trail loop from a post on onlyinyourstate.com. I didn’t include this in the links above because I’m pretty sure it’s inaccurate. The post claims that this trail leads to a turquoise lake. Wallis Pond did not appear to me to be the same body of water pictured on that site.

Don’t get me wrong, this was an amazing hike all the same. The pond has a large section of swamp and one of the largest beaver dams we’ve ever seen. But as I browsed the pictures on the Only In Your State post again, it didn’t seem like the same location.

I’m wondering if the author combined pics of the Wallis Pond Loop with Wallum Lake, which is located in another part of the Douglas State Forest. It looks like we’ll have to head back there to explore the lake at some point as well!

Our hike started out on a wide gated dirt road running through the forest. Not our favorite type of hiking, but once we hit the loop, the trails became more interesting.

We spent some time exploring off trail by hiking up into the woods alongside a stream. Although we always stay attuned to where the trail is, it’s nice to step off for a bit and immerse ourselves in the woods.

This reminds me of a quote from my morning tea – there is a pleasure in the pathless woods. With a little research, I now know this is from a poem by Lord Byron.

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love Man not the less, but Nature more…” ~ Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage on poets.org

Back on the trails, we were amazed by pine tree forests. And then had our curiosity peaked by some old foundations we discovered while exploring a small, unmarked trail.

At Wallis Pond, we paused to rest our legs for a bit and enjoy a quick snack. On our way back to the trail, we spotted a great blue heron on the other side of the pond. I have no desire to carry a real camera on our hikes, my phone is just fine. However, at times like this, I wish I could zoom in!

In the center of that picture to the left, there is a gorgeous heron. We watched it stand proudly, it’s long neck outstretched, until it eventually took off in flight.

Ted Andrews writes in his book Animal Speak that the great blue heron’s theme is self-determination and self-reliance and that heron medicine reflects the ability to follow your own path.

We also came upon a pair of mallard ducks. I think they startled us as much as we startled them. They blend in so well! It seemed like neither of us realized the other was there until we were just across the stream from each other. We wondered if they were protecting a nest, as they seemed quite hesitant to leave the area, even as we got closer.

The duck’s theme is emotional comfort and protection. “They serve to teach you how to maneuver through various waters of life.”

From Wallis Pond Loop Trail we followed Reservoir Trail as it paralleled the Whitin Reservoir. We finally decided to stop here for lunch, sitting on a fallen tree on the shore.

After lunch we spent some time exploring and rock hopping around the edge of the water. We hit a couple of inclines as we began our return trek to the main trails. Just enough of a challenge to offer a nice workout for our legs and heart and lungs!

Aside from this short section of trail, the terrain on this hike was fairly easy. All in all, it was a great day out on the trails. Hopefully soon our pics will be more colorful. Until then, we still enjoy finding pleasure in the great outdoors!

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