Bay Circuit Trail Section 4

Posted By on May 11, 2017

10.61 miles; Ipswich, Rowley, Georgetown, and Boxford, MA

This was a long section, made longer still by a portion of the trail which was flooded by a beaver dam (you will notice beavers are kind of a theme in this post). Aside from the road-walking-heavy detour, however, it was mostly in the woods. This section passed through two state forests: Willowdale and Georgetown-Rowley. There sure are some big-assed state forests in Massachusetts!

Along the Trail

Along the Trail

The trail (duh, obviously) picked up from where the last hike left off, in the Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich, MA. Both the Bay Circuit Trail and the state forest cross busy Route 1 and the trail for a time runs along the edge of a large horse farm before plunging deeper into the woods.

Marsh Marigolds

Marsh Marigolds

The marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris) were in full bloom all through this hike.

Beaver Pond

Beaver Pond

This seems to me to be the beginnings of a large beaver pond. I am still in the Willowdale State Forest at this point, but not far from the Georgetown-Rowley State Forest.

Steps Down to the Miller River Crossing

Steps Down to the Mill River Crossing

The map and guide for the BCT through here contained rather dire warnings about the Mill River Crossing… it mentioned frequent flooding which would make the crossing impassible and necessitate a rather extensive detour. I forged ahead, however, trusting in my luck, which turned out to be quite good—this time.

Mill River Boardwalk

Mill River Bridge

Not only was the bridge crossing dry, it was also gorgeous, adorned as it was with a beautiful flowering tree in full bloom.

Large Beaver Lodge

Large Beaver Lodge

This is probably where the culprits responsible for the frequent flooding reside. There appeared to be a “beaver deceiver” installed here, though, foiling their best efforts.

Bridge over 95

Bridge over 95

Past here, the trail was frequently underwater, and for a small stretch I ended up following a mountain bike trail instead of the blazed BCT. I know it was a mountain bike trail because I met a helpful mountain biker, who told me the trail eventually wound up re-joining the marked trail. The BCT meandered quite a bit north to include this bridge which crosses Route 95 south of Exit 54 in Georgetown. It was weirdly paved only for a short stretch before, during, and after the crossing. And very elaborately graffitied.

Border-to-Boston Rail Bed

Border-to-Boston Rail Bed

It was once I exited the Georgetown-Rowley SF that I encountered an impassible part of the trail. There was detailed signage that directed BCT hikers to follow a detour which serendipitously included a stretch of an old rail bed. The bulk of the detour, however, was on roads. Sigh. I guess on a long trail like this one, sometimes there’s no avoiding road-walking. And naturally, this flooding was caused by, you guessed it, beavers. Stoopy beavers…

You can find out more about the two state forests mentioned above by going to this Massachusetts state website. And read more about the Bay Circuit Trail here. As always, click on the image, above, for details about this section and to download the track.

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