I suppose the best way to describe the Crow Lane Nature Trail is to actually call it the In-between Trail. It weaves in and out of public and private properties, runs itself along the no longer used Crow Lane Roadway and ends up meeting with so many other trails that any hiker for the first time can easily become confused. A brief warning, hunting is allowed along certain parts of the north face of Crow Lane. It is not a part of Cooper North Pasture Conservation Area so be careful during hunting season.
The only way to start on this trail is to park at the end of Crow Lane next to the Landfill. There is ample parking though sometimes the Department of Public Safety fed up with illegal dumping may chain off sections and the frenetic activity at the Landfill just makes it not safe to leave your car around heavy construction equipment. The alternative is to park at the entrance to the stump-dump facility or just inside the gate. Someday when the Landfill closing is a distant memory, a nice parking area will be established for access to these conservation lands.
Walking down the wide path of the old Crow Lane, you will actually be crossing the beginnings of the Little River. Sometimes in heavy rain, the stream pours above and not through the conduits. Continuing up a hill, you can view on the left the inner field of the Cooper North Pasture Conservation Area and sometimes be lucky enough to see a grazing deer.
At the top of the hill is a big pile of junk. Thoughtful volunteers have brought together from through out the forest any debris or trash and left it here. As soon as New Ventures clears the access to Crow Lane, the DPS is planning to come and haul it away. Directly to the right of the pile is the Woodman Farm Nature Trail. (Also private property)
To protect important Natural Heritage certified vernal pools that lie directly on the discontinued Crow Lane Roadway; the trail takes a sharp left from the junk pile and goes due south. It eventually ends up at a crossroads. Straight ahead and to the left is the Cooper North Common Pasture Nature Trail and to the right is the continuation of the Crow Lane Trail. Since ATV’s often run along the Crow Lane Trail, it’s not hard to know which is the main trail. Taking it, we now come to a stretch of forest that is just breathtaking. The trees are large and majestic and the trail is easy to traverse. Wildlife is thick in the area and it behooves one to be very quiet and see if anyone can be spotted. A vernal pool* lies just off the path in this area. It is a tinge sad but the land is private property and unprotected – for these trees are the largest and heartiest in the forest! ‘
Eventually, the Crow Lane path ends at the abandoned Route 95 roadbed now turned into the Little River Bike Path. A small trek into the field just across the way and you can also link up with the Little River Nature Trail.
The “In-between” trail is a great way to have access to all the different paths in the forest. It’s also a great point of reference to prevent becoming lost. Of all the trails in this area, the Crow Lane Nature Trail has that seasoned feel that gives a hiker confidence that the path won’t ‘disappear’ and it gives a feeling of being close to some of the best of what nature offers.
PS. I’d rather take my dog out here rather than risk having my best friend disturbing a city park visitor!
* Vernal pools are temporary bodies of freshwater that provide critical habitat for many vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife species. They constitute a unique and increasingly vulnerable type of wetland that is inhabited by many species of wildlife some of which are totally dependent on vernal pools for their survival. Massachusetts Natural Heritage is attempting to identify and certify vernal pools to ensure their protection.