With access from Routes 93, 28, and 125, this loop hike in the western, Andover side of Harold Parker is a great bang-for-your-buck option to stretch the legs after work or to head out for a longer day hike. Be sure to check out Bear Pond as one of two natural kettle ponds in Harold Parker - the other nine ponds were all developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps to support fish hatcheries.
This loop heads in a counter-clockwise direction, though all trails can be traveled in any direction and in any combination to accommodate time and ability.
Open sunrise to sunset. Parking charged Memorial Day weekend through October 31: MA resident $5; Non-MA resident $10
From the parking area on Harold Parker Road, just east of Hwy 125, head north toward Brackett Pond. Given the number of trails and paths in this state forest, it helps to have at least one form of map
or the Hiking Project mobile app
to help navigate. Most intersections are marked with numbers, which are used for the underlying trails on Hiking Project.
At the first intersection between A20 - A22
and Bracket Pond Trail - South
, continue north/northeast onto Bracket Pond Trail - South
to begin this counter-clockwise loop, heading northeast around Bracket Pond. As the trail nears the junction between Bracket Pond and Collins Pond, it'll T into Walker Road
, the main dirt access road around Bracket Pond. For visitors short on time or looking for a wider path to follow, Walker Road
makes for a nice and easy loop on its own.
Continuing on this loop, turn right (south) onto Walker Road
toward Harold Parker Road and gate 12. Look for the left onto Gate 12 - A25
before the gate, continuing onto A25 - A27
. You can bypass this easternmost section of the hike by continuing north from intersection A25 past Bear Pond to intersection A11.
Loop around past A27 and the right turn to A10, as the trail bends to the left (west) toward A11. Continue west, toward A12 and the Bear Pond Loop Spur
. Bear Pond is a kettle hole pond, which was formed when sand buried a piece of a retreating glacier that eventually melted and left a deep depression in the ground. These don't always fill with water but if they're deep enough to intersect with the water table, they can fill from below. They typically don't have any in or out flow on the surface, but instead, maintain water depth from the water table or precipitation.
From Bear Pond, continue west through the wetland area toward Delano Pond, one of the nine developed ponds in Harold Parker State Forest. If you find yourself off this hike path, don't worry, as most trails link to one of the access roads which can be taken south to Harold Parker Road. From Delano Pond, head west/southwest toward A19, for a final short loop on A19 - A20
at the western boundary of the forest, before returning to the parking area.
Frogs, spotted and painted turtles, giant water bugs, beavers, deer. Rare blue-spotted salamander.
One of the first state forests established around 1930 and developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.