Our hike this week took us back to another of our favorite blog hikes from 10 years ago. Since it’s now July and we’re still in semi-lockdown due to COVID-19, we needed to find a park where parking wasn’t limited to residents-only and greenies were not out and about ready to make a meal of us! During the current phase of “re-opening” in Massachusetts, many beach parking, lots are limited to resident-only or you have to purchase a reserved ticket far in advance. Since we can’t know the weather situation far in advance, we don’t usually have tickets/reservations lined up in time for our hikes! Plus, if you live in New England, you know that July through August is “greenie season” definitely NOT a time when you want to be out on the beach if there’s a marsh nearby (and when isn’t there?).
Finding an alternative to beach trips
We fought off those buggers (literally) last week at Plum Island and still have the bite marks to prove it, so we headed inland to a park we visited almost exactly 10 years ago, Moore State Park. Upon arrival, we discovered there was a whole lot of construction and repair going on, but it was still beautiful. The following post is from my blog of 10 years ago, 52b452.blogspot.com. Since that blog has lost touch with its photos, you’ll have to make do with our current photos and a few updates on conditions… but believe me, if we’d visited in May or June we would have seen the flowers I wrote about then. Even this late into July we saw blossoms clinging to bushes here and there, and many petals on the ground.
Moore State Park
The Essential Springtime Park. Flowers EVERYWHERE!!!
Looking for a dream setting to spend a gorgeous spring day? This is it!
If you love rhododendrons, azaleas, and mountain laurel, winding paths around waterfalls and old stone buildings, this is the place for you!!!
- Our Rating: 5 WAGS!!!! We hesitated only a minute to decide that we would definitely live here! In a dreamlike setting, with mill ponds, waterfalls, and amazing flowers everywhere you turn, only those who truly love city living would turn down the opportunity!
- Tucker’s Rating: 5 wags! I’ve never seen a dog so happy. He was even rolling down the grassy hills then running back up to do it again! Anywhere he can meet another corgi AND have shady places to lie down, children to pat him, and big fields to play in is a dream destination!
- Accessibility: Good. The healthy heart trail is a bit steep and root covered, but there are plenty of flat or only slightly inclining trails, nice, clean open fields and you can see the flowers from almost everywhere. The bridge across the dam near the mill house might be a concern but seems safe enough. There are definitely parts of this park that wouldn’t be accessible, but in our opinion, it is well worth the trip because this is such a huge park offering many accessible areas.
- Fees: FREE
- Pet-Friendly: YES (on leash) Note: 7/25/20 the website says no dogs allowed but when you get to the park you’ll see plenty, on leash, and notes about picking up your pet’s waste, as well as a container providing bags for that purpose, so dogs are still allowed despite website notes.
- Activities: canoeing, fishing, hiking, x-country skiing, and picnicking. Note: 7/25/20 There is not access to the millpond from the main trails, so canoeing and fishing might be difficult.
Note: As of this post, 7/25/20, the park is under construction. The mill pond is being worked on to such an extent that there is no boating currently and no real access to the pond itself. The gazebo is gone, and the stream leaving from the pond is somewhat blocked up so that, and the current drought has resulted in the beautiful waterfall being just a trickle. Also, the water wheel that was so picturesque is currently not there. Maybe it’s being renovated too as much of the park and walkways are. But as you’ll see in the photos, this is still a gorgeous park with plenty of trails still open.
Whenever you go it’s beautiful, but for flower lovers, go in the Spring!
We picked this park because of the beautiful pictures they featured on the State Park website and we were not disappointed. We chose a weekend in mid-May because the website commented on flowers really being beautiful at certain times of the year. Well, we hit it at that “certain time” because, from the moment we arrived, we saw flowers! Every shape and size of rhododendron and azalea were there. Actually, the rhododendrons and mountain laurels weren’t yet in bloom but the azaleas were out and incredible! Pink, orange, cerise, yellow, white, spilling down hillsides, crowded around the base of trees, leaning over Eames Pond.
A healthy heart trail for most any walker
This park is a gorgeous place to wander, photograph, paint, and picnic in. The Healthy Heart Trail runs next to an area of newly planted chestnut trees which the park has planted as part of a National Program. It’s pretty much new growth at this time but seems to be doing really well. As we’ve found in pretty much all parks, maps of the trails are NOT available, so print your own here! I highly recommend printing one since on our travels, we got a bit lost wandering around. They provide a QR code to download one to your phone now! Thankfully my inner sense brought us back to the parking lot eventually, but some of the signage is hidden, and the trails in the spring can blend into the forest floor and you wouldn’t want to miss any of the marked archaeological or architectural sites.
Note: 7//25/20 – Parts of the Healthy Heart Trail are currently closed off due to work being done within the wooded areas. But there are plenty of signs redirecting you, so don’t worry about getting lost. We found our way back to the parking lot and some shady picnic tables to sit and chat. Those chestnut trees have done a bit of growing in ten years, that’s for sure, but some have had to be taken down. There is a lot of digging going on next to the parking lot, and unfortunately, I believe that’s where the restrooms used to be. Currently, there are no restrooms.
Remnants of an old village
The park itself was originally an old mill village built back in the 1700s drawing power for various mill buildings from Turkey Hill Brook. It encompasses 671 acres of history, archaeology, waterfalls, ponds, old stonework, fields, and forest. Pretty much everything you’d want in a park, combined in a way guaranteed to remove you from the hustle and bustle of life in the 21st century, and with plenty of space to just sit back and relax, or wander and explore to your heart’s content.
How the park got it’s start
In the 1930s, a family from Worcester bought the entire mill village area, which was no longer profitable as a mill, and turned it into an estate. Florence Morton, a member of this family, and one of the first female degreed landscape architects in Massachusetts is responsible for the general layout of the park and the beginnings of what is an amazing display of rhododendrons and azaleas. Her designs and work resulted in what was known back then as Glen Morton. In 1946 the property was purchased by the Spaulding family (another wealthy Worcester family who owned department stores in the area). Mrs. Connie Spaulding renamed the estate Enchanta. She was a member of the local garden club and gave her focus to continuing the plantings of various rhododendron and azalea plants, going to great lengths to achieve specific color variations and combinations, all of which could be viewed from her home. There is an entire section in the book Hiking Through History History, about Connie Spaulding’s work. The state purchased the property from the Spaulding family in 1965 and it has remained a park ever since. To read more about the history of this spot, check out the website of the local American Rhododendron Society.
Beautiful views no matter where you walk
We enjoyed the beautiful day, the gorgeous scenery, and took lots of photos of flowers, and we’re certain that this park will remain in our top 5 for a long time to come. It’s just beautiful, with easy trails to hike, friendly people, but lots of space for solitude, a beautiful pond, and opportunities for various other activities but all in your own good time. Those other activities include canoeing in Eames Pond, fishing in Eames Pond and Turkey Hill Brook, hiking, cross-country skiing, picnicking, and PHOTOGRAPHY! Don’t miss the Artist Overlook marked on the park trail map. It’s the perfect spot for photos. Note: 7/25/20 The foliage and bushes that grow along this trail have really run riot this year so it is difficult to see the actual area of the waterfall. With so many parks closed, and in general, work is focused on the millpond and trails, it seems they’ve let it go wild for a bit. Hoping next Spring, when we go back, this area will be returned to its natural beauty complete with waterfall and millwheel.
10 years ago we saw a different park
The day we were there a woman was taking pictures of her little daughter dressed in her frilliest party dress. She’d been sitting there quietly posing until she saw Tucker bouncing along the trail. Suddenly she was up and exclaiming, “look at the doggy!!!!” I saw her mother’s disappointed (or maybe frustrated) look and realized she’d finally gotten her daughter quieted down and sitting still, then we showed up! We took a few quick shots and moved on so they could get back to what looked like some gorgeous pictures. I’m sure this is a popular spot with couples for wedding shots too. If you’re in the area and want a romantic setting (especially when the flowers are blooming) this is it! Our guess is during the fall this is also a totally gorgeous park to visit.
Stopping for lunch on the way home
We headed home but not before stopping for lunch! A local favorite is Hot Dog Annie’s in Leicester, MA. Note: 7/25/20 This place is still around and IS open, with modifications in place to respect social distancing, etc. Local hot dogs, local potato chips (Wachusett brand), and even their own soda! While some people may not think this is a GREAT hot dog place, it is local, with clean picnic tables, quick service, and lots of choices if you’re looking for hot dogs. We thought they were pretty darned good for hot dogs, and the price was right, so stop by if you’ve got a hankering.
Note: 7/25/20 Due to the hour long ride both to and from the park, and the lack of restroom facilities, we limited hydration and didn’t stop for lunch, but I’m happy to see that Hot Dog Annie’s is still around, in spite of some of the negative reviews. Hot dogs are a treat I enjoy once or twice a year, usually either at a baseball game (not something we can do this year) or one a special trip like this one. Hoping there are hot dogs to be enjoyed out there again some time very soon for us.
We considered this a successful and memorable park trip and would recommend it highly to anyone, families, children, pets, individuals, and groups. We were thrilled with the scenery and found the trails easy to walk. Tucker enjoyed every minute of the day, and while people were wandering the trails, it never felt crowded. Heading out Worcester way? GO TO THIS PARK!!! Got it?
Remembering those we’ve traveled with before
I’ve started a new tradition to remember those who inspired my blog from years ago. For this park we took both my mother, Lillian, and Tucker more than once! Lillian enjoyed this park on Mother’s Day, the week before she fell and broke her hip. She complained a lot about the walk itself, but loved the flowers and sitting by the millpond. Tucker adored this park with it’s rolling fields of green, and mostly clear paths to trot down. We miss both of them and having them with us on our hikes. Hoping they’ve found a quiet field together to enjoy a sunny day or two and remember us as we remember them.
They were both ready for a drive, any day, any time.