Beech Hill Conservation and Trail Club Report

Once again,  the community spirit in Rockland is paying huge dividends for the Rockland people. A group of mountain bike enthusiasts from Rockland have been working feverishly in the vast conservation land that includes the summit of  Beech Hill for the past several weeks. The club has found great        co-operation from the Parks Department, the Water Department and the Conservation Chairman in both Rockland and Whitman.

The progress that this handful of workers has been able to accomplish in ten short weeks  is astounding. The club has managed to carve out  a completely natural 1.5 mile  hiking/and non-motorized  biking trail through the dense forests along the Rockland-Whitman line.

The Ewell Log Ride

The mountainside trail offers some thrilling man- made and natural features.  Right from the start,  riders and hikers are greeted by a twenty- five-foot long, hand-cut log ride. This fallen timber was no match for project leader, Derek Ewell,  as he hand-crafted and carved it into a one-of-a-kind, narrow log crossing (skinny) with a slight incline and a curve.

 

On a sunny spring day,  the west-facing  slope creates  an  illuminated canopy of towering beech, old growth pine and oaks -  all laced in rare hardwood vines that hang like gym rope from the timbers.

Cardinals' Nest Near Whitman Town Line

Breaks in the forest cover reveal open skies as far away as Brockton and the Blue Hills Reservation. Once off the log ride, the gravity gets strong and you are accelerating over the constructed bench cuts toward the first switchback.

First Bridge

You speed up and over the log roll, over (or around if you are me) the rock jump and pound down the trail for a few moments at high speed.  The hairpin turn offers a smooth berm beneath a massive, 200-year-old  pine that takes the corner with ease as you speed toward the next switchback.

Justin's Roll-Over

The trail continues toward the west and the wetlands of the Beech Hill Valley. You can go over or around a boulder field that provides some excellent technical moguls for the advanced  riders. The trail then heads south over the club’s many bridges, jumps and features. Many elevation changes and technical challenges await you as you speed along magnificent stonewalls and rolling hills over babbling brooks and streams.  Finally, the trail meets up with the Camp Susan Property in Whitman.

Camp Susan is an abandoned 1940′s Girl Scout camp that offers over forty-five acres of nonmotorized recreation land that the club plans to carve trails into as well.

Reinforced Bench Cuts Prevent Erosion

The club also has plans to cut trails in the opposite direction in the Beech Street Conservation area. That trail will connect to the power lines near Beechwood. This will connect,  for the first time since the 1800′s,  the towns of Whitman, Rockland, Abington and Hanover with wooded trails.

The Beech Hill Conservation and Trail Club members stated that they are inspired by the men who built Rockland Town Forest,  Hartsuff Park and Camp Wooka Wooka.

A-- Over Tea Kettle Jump

Congratulations to Derek and Justin Ewell who have put in more than a hundred hours of labor constructing bridges and berms from the natural resources found on the property. Solid oak blow- downs – cut and placed by hand,  then fastened with hand-split cedar planks – have been used to create some beautiful and long- lasting bridges. Tons of dirt and stone have been moved by shovel and bucket to shore up some of the slope-side trails that would otherwise be subject to severe erosion after many uses.  Several other Rocklandites have been working the new trail,  including the owner of Rockland Cycles.  Dave is an expert mountain biker and sells and repairs all kinds of mountain bikes in his Rockvegas Center store.

The Beech Hill Conservation and Trail Club would like to invite the people of Rockland and Whitman to come out and enjoy this newly-claimed conservation land. Every effort has been made to create a safe, well-constructed,  primitive bike trail utilizing the natural resources found on the land.

To access the trail, park in front of the Water Department property at the summit of Beech Hill and enter the woods to the right. A great hike includes walking from Beech Hill to Clayton’s store in Whitman and back again.

After the trail work was well underway,  I made a pleasant historical discovery. Nelly Hannigan,  Class of 1901,  predicted great future parks in  Rockland,  including Beech Hill,  at the graduation ceremony at the Strand Theater.

1901 Rockland High School Graduation Report

It was also amazing to note that our trail opening was going to coincide with the 110-year anniversary of that very prediction.

All of us at the Beech Hill Conservation and Trail Club would like to invite all of our Rockland neighbors for a grand opening of Nelly Hannigan’s 100-acre future park.  Hope to see you all on the Ewell trail!

Oh -  and about those cardinal eggs – two out of three ain’t bad.  Pictured below are hatched cardinals along the trail.

Hatched Cardinals Along the Trail.

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