Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grateful Letterbox: Uncle Sam

The "Grateful Letterbox" series of boxes are so named to bring attention to a group formed by The Merry Pranksters and zess the treehuggers. Although inspired by a love of Grateful Dead music, the only admission criterion is that you must be grateful for something in your life. Check it out the Grateful Letterboxers group on Atlas Quest!

** Stamp carved by The Merry Pranksters**

Uncle Sam

Mt. Pisgah Conservation Area
Trailhead is across the road from 19 Smith Street, Northborough.

Mt. Pisgah is one of the largest conservation lands in the state, spreading across the towns of Northborough, Berlin, Boylston, & Bolton. The Smith Street trailhead provides access to the trails of Northborough, Berlin, and the MassWildlife property. Northborough & Mass Wildlife trails are maintained by the Northborough Trails Committee, and are exceptionally well-marked. The Berlin trails are mostly not blazed, and so are more complicated to navigate, but beautiful. This hike is entirely in Northborough (with one optional hop into Berlin).

Visit the Northborough Trails Committee website to download a trail map & information sheet on Mt. Pisgah (highly recommended; great map, interesting info).


1) From Route 9 in Westborough
a. Exit Rt. 135 West toward Northborough
b. Pass Ellsworth-McAfee Park
c. Continue 1 mile to dead-end at Route 20
d. Left onto Rt. 20
e. Quick right, just past CVS, onto Church Street
f. Stay Left at the Y
g. Continue on Church St, 2 miles, until you see the I-290 interchange.
h. Just PASSED interchange, at Davidians Farm Stand, Right onto Ball Hill
i. Follow for 1.7 miles to deadend at Green Street
j. Left on Green Street for 0.4 miles
k. Right on Smith Road
l. In 0.3 miles, trailhead is on Right side of road

2) From Route 290
a. Take Exit 24, Church Street toward Boylston (North)
b. Follow directions from (h) above

From the Smith Road trailhead, start on the Mentzer Trail (yellow blazes).
At the trail junction, turn onto the Sparrow Trail (red blazes).
Cross over the Berlin Road Trail (blue blazes) and continue on the Sparrow Trail.
At the next trail junction, turn right onto the Tyler Trail (also red blazes).
Follow Tyler Trail, staying to the left when it meets another trail, to the South View.
Take in the view, grab the letterbox, and take it back to the viewpoint to stamp in.

To grab the letterbox:

Find the Sparrow Trail entrance just back, and north, from the viewpoint.
The trail sign has a red blaze (triangle) on it. This is blaze #1
Proceed down the trail to blaze #3
Look to the right of the trail, at about 2:00, and notice a tree that was caught in mid-fall by another tree.
At the base of the supporting tree, just behind it (East), are two rocks, one of which sticks up and looks like an arrowhead. That’s where the box is.
Keep your eyes out to be sure you are not seen as you go to retrieve the box.
Now that you’ve spotted the location, and know where you are going, find the most gentle (on the vegetation) path, stepping softly, until you reach the rocks.
The letterbox is on the back (east/downhill) side of the rocks, tucked between them, under two loose rocks.
Take the box back to the South View, so as not to draw attention to it’s hiding spot.

Please be discreet while stamping, as this is a popular spot along these trails.
Return the box, again being careful of vegetation & passersby, and re-hide carefully placing the rocks just as you found them, so that the box is not visible.

Quickest way back to your car: Backtrack the way you came in.

Recommended way back to your car:
Continue down Sparrow Trail
Be sure to follow the red blazes when they head to the left at a Y. (The right side has blue tree-paint blazes, I think.)
As you continue on the Sparrow Trail, you will see a stone wall.
Just past this stone wall is an intersection with the Summit Trail.
At this junction, notice the cairn of large rocks. There is a Geodetic survey benchmark here marking the highest point in Northborough.
Continue on Sparrow Trail (red)
Turn Right at the yellow blazes onto the Mentzer Trail.
Follow stone wall to map board, go through wall, and follow yellow blazes to the
North View. The view is more obstructed here than the South View, but on a clear day you have a straight-on view of Boston’s Prudential Building and Hancock Tower.
Return to the stone wall, turn right, and follow the Mentzer Trail straight down the mountain, passing over the Berlin Road trail, until you reach the parking area.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Northborough Trails Letterboxing Quest

Congratulations to our Quest Completers!

~ oldhounder (9/20/07)
~ Dale End Farm (9/20/07)
~ Lionheart (9/22/07)
~ Mim (10/7/07)
~ Alien Mom (10/7/07)
~ Camelgal (11/12/07)
~ the lazy letterboxer (11/12/07)
~ HarmonyMA (11/25/07)
~ thethreecs (1/27/08)
~ Boston B (1/27/08)
~ The Roo Crew (5/17/08)
~ cliff and katrina (7/5/08)
~ Holly Jolly (8/26/08)
~Neet (3/25/11)
~ Birdie Perch (6/3/11)

~ marrtians (5/6/12)
~ A Girl and Her Dog (5/6/12)
~ TL Chatham (10/24/13)

The Quest Explained

Clues to the first letterbox: "The Map"

Clues to the trailhead letterboxes: "The Puzzle Pieces"

Northborough Trails Letterboxing Quest Explained

Special thanks to the following letterboxers for their helping pulling this Quest together: The Merry Pranksters, Dale End Farm, Mim, and StarWars Chick.

The intent of the Northborough Trails Letterboxing Quest is two-fold: to introduce the great trails of Northborough to letterboxers, and to introduce letterboxing (and the trails) to local folks. In preparation for the launching of this Quest, we have planted at least one letterbox on all of the trail systems in town, so there are now several new ones to seek!

About the awesome Northborough Trails Committee

Northborough Trail Maps

Northborough Trails Committee website

Directions to Northborough Trails

Northborough Letterboxing blog (with clues)

About the Quest

The goals

1. Find the 10 letterboxes with stamps that together form a map of Northborough.
2. Find at least one letterbox on each of 5 trails (of your choice).

The rewards

Successful completion of steps 1 & 2 above will earn you:
1. The Northborough AppleFest stamp (if you did not get it at AppleFest)
2. A Quest-specific stamp that can only be earned by finishing this quest
3. A small “token” recognizing your accomplishment
4. A familiarity with our trails, so you can choose your favorites to hike again!

How to achieve the goals

Goal #1: The Map of Northborough stamps

1) Find the Map outline stamp. This requires you to hike the Cold Harbor Trail, and you’ll definitely want to do this first. Stamp this outline into your logbook. This stamp divides Northborough into 9 sections, each of which contains a trailhead that you will visit. Clues to the Map letterbox.

2) Find all of the 9 stamps planted at or very near nine of our trailheads. We recommend that you only color the letter in the middle of the stamp (take a marker with you), and not the outer borders (it will look nicer). The outer borders are there to help you fit the stamp (like a puzzle piece) into the correct location & orientation on the map you stamped from the Map box. A stamp found at a trailhead will be the “puzzle piece” for the part of town where the trailhead itself is located. Thus, you may want to use a town map with trails identified to help guide you. Clues to the Puzzle Pieces letterboxes.

Goal #2: You need to hike five of these trails! Provide evidence of this (the image of at least one letterbox stamp from each of these five trails), and you’ve met Goal #2. The names of boxes on each trail are listed with the Puzzle Pieces.

Once you are at the trailhead, though, wouldn’t you just want to go ahead and hike the trail? They all have at least one letterbox planted!

Upon completion of the Quest, please email us so we can arrange your reward! zess.devine@gmail.com

***Email us with any questions!!***

As with all of our letterboxes, we encourage feedback so that letterboxers will enjoy the hunts, and not get frustrated by poorly written clues or unintended hazards.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

About The Northborough Trails Committee

(from their website, Northborough Trails Commitee)

The Northborough Trails Committee's formal name is the Trails Subcommittee of the Northborough Open Space Committee. It was founded in February of 2001 when Arthur Cole went before the Open Space Committee to ask if they would be interested in creating a trail system in Northborough. They surprised him with their enthusiasm and they appointed him chairman of the subcommittee. Since then the NTC has actively searched for places to create and build new trails, as well as maintain the current trail system. The NTC is a formal Committee of the Town of Northborough, but all of the people involved are volunteers who share a common goal to provide access to the Town’s recreational areas by maintaining a viable trail system.

There are currently seven recreational areas in Northborough (Mt. Pisgah; Edmund Hill Woods; Watson Park; Little Chauncy; Cedar Hill; Carney Park; and Carlstrom II Forest) that contain approximately 20 miles of wonderful trails as part of the Northborough trail system, and some of these connect to trails in other towns such as the Westborough Charm Bracelet trail system. All of the trails in Northborough are multi-use trails, unless posted otherwise, and allowed uses are: hiking; mountain biking; skiing; snow shoeing; and, equestrian. The Sudbury Valley Trustees does not allow mountain biking on their trails at Cedar Hill and Sawink Farm. Motorized vehicles such as ATV’s are not allowed on any of the trails. Hunting is allowed on the MassWildLife properties at Mt. Pisgah and Crane Swamp. Hunting is also allowed on the Town of Northborough land at Mt. Pisgah by permit, so be aware during hunting season. Check the MassWildLife link for hunting seasons.

Visit the Northborough Trails Committee website for additional information:

Click here for .pdf files for all of the Northborough trailmaps.

Northborough Trails Letterboxing Quest: The Map

Stamp carved and box planted by zess

Location: Carney Park / Cold Harbor Trail
Map it: West Main Street and Davis Street, Northborough, MA
Driving directions
Trail Map

Distance: 2.5 miles
Terrain: Easy

**There is no ink in the box—bring your own. **
**Can be muddy; part of trail has lots of roots & rocks to trip you
**Watch carefully for poison ivy—it is on every open space that I know in Massachusetts

Follow the trail through some trees, past the boulder, along the dam (beautiful place to see a sunset), up and over the mini-woods, across the field, quick woods, along a second dam to the end, and into the woods to your left, where you skirt along a neighbor’s fence. Continue on into the woods again. The path is well-marked with the Northborough Trails markers. Stroll through this lovely stretch, noticing the occasional outcroppings on the hill to your right, and the Cold Harbor Brook wetland beyond the stone wall to your left. As you travel through here, glance down now and then at the ground on your right—you are looking for a “fire-circle.” This is a circle on the ground made from rocks—with room in the middle to build a campfire, and it is immediately adjacent to the trail. When you arrive at the fire circle, notice that just ahead of you the path passes through a stone wall. (If you reach the point in the trail where it turns to the left and enters the wetland via boardwalks, you’ve gone too far--but not too, too far; turn around and you’ll quickly find the location you seek).

Stop on the trail midway between the fire circle and the stone wall, and turn to the right (away from the brook). Several steps away you'll see two trees with multiple small trunks. Go up to them, because between them is a hollow log that doesn't quite belong there.

After stamping in, please be sure that you reseal the baggies, securely seal the box, and re-hide the box in the log, using rocks, bark, leaves, and/or sticks to make sure it is not visible from the trail. It is just a very short way now to the end of this section of the Cold Harbor Trail, so we recommend checking it out. Continue on the trail and take the turn left (indicated by the red Northborough trail markers) to cross the meadow on boardwalks. This section ends at Cherry Street. (If you wish to go further...) Turn right and walk 0.2 miles until Cherry Street dead-ends at West Street. You cannot miss the trail head for the second part of the Cold Harbor trail. Maybe that is where you’ll find the first puzzle piece? And maybe another letterbox?

If you choose to continue on along that second leg of the hike, and then return back to your car, your total distance is 4-1/2 miles. Alternatively, you can turn around from Cherry Street and backtrack to your car. This makes for a 2-1/2 mile hike.

As with all of our letterboxes, we encourage feedback so that letterboxers will enjoy the hunts, and not get frustrated by poorly written clues or unintended hazards.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

Go, Dog. Go!

Stamps carved and boxes planted by zess

Little Chauncy & Talbot Trails

Trailhead: Fisherman's Boat Access: Driving Directions

Distance: ~ 3 miles
Terrain: moderate due to a few hills; can be muddy in places
Clues: Easy

Notes: Bring your own ink. First box is a micro; logbook in second box.

#1. Black & white dog

Begin on trail & follow along lake, over boardwalks, past field, into pine forest.
At intersection take path to the right.
Follow trail to the cattle crossing tunnel & proceed through it (duck your head)
Continue on trail & cross street & pick up trail again
At intersection, go left, following the Northborough Trails sign “Talbot Trail”
This is a new trail just blazed this summer by an Eagle Scout
Follow around until intersection (in September…do you smell the grapes?) and turn left. (**the backtrack to here is the same route, so pay attention as you proceed**)
At next intersection, turn right (Talbot Trail)
Trail split, stay to the left
Go around tree fallen over trail
Follow trail as it turns left and goes down hill.
Another (much larger) fallen tree across path
Proceed to Eagle Scout bridge
Go ~1/2 way across bridge, to the biggest tree on the right that is the closest to the bridge
Take a step past the tree, face right, and lie down on your stomach
Look under bridge for something that does not belong.

#2. Three dogs at a party on a boat at night

Return to that intersection with the grapes, but go straight (instead of right) for different scenery
Cross street
Cattle tunnel
Split in trail, with tree in the middle with two red Northborough markers
Go Right
Sharp left
Second red marker (i.e., ~60 steps past the sharp left)
Look left for a stick/log circle with ~ 10 foot diameter on the ground
Rock outcropping in south/southwest direction – stand between edge of rocks & large pine abutting the rocks on the far side
Face southwest, toward lake. (To be more specific, face 260 degrees & spot a 1 foot high stump; if you go to this stump, the long log mentioned below will be to your left)
(Four foot stump there now—it’s tenuous & may not be standing for long **6/28/08--this stump has fallen**)
From rock/pine location, take ~8 adult steps.
Note long log at your feet
Far side, right end, notice a smaller, 1-1/2 foot log next to long log

After stamping in, continue on your journey back to your car.

If you would like to join a fun group of Grateful Letterboxers, click here.

As with all of our letterboxes, we encourage feedback so that letterboxers will enjoy the hunts, and not get frustrated by poorly written clues or unintended hazards.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

How the Coyote Trail got it's name

On October 5, 2005, a Northborough grandfather was out hiking with his 4-year-old grandson along the Assabet River (here) when they were suddenly attacked from behind. The grandfather, Arthur Cole, age 76, positioned himself between the coyote and his grandson. As the coyote was biting Cole’s legs, he unsuccessfully tried to fend her off with his hands. At one point the coyote turned around and trotted away. Cole was relieved, thinking the attack was over, but he was mistaken. The coyote was just getting some running room so she could jump for his throat. Cole told me that this was her big mistake, because when she ran away his hands were freed, such that when she jumped at him he was able to grab her throat and tackle her to the ground. He landed on top of her and had her pinned under him, with her head in his arm and her tale in his other hand.

His grandson, Nicholas, came to the rescue. Cole said, “He truly was heroic. It was his idea to run for help and he had about one quarter of a mile to run.” Nicholas ran back to Cole’s home and got his father (Cole’s son, Peter). It was clear that Cole could not let go of the thrashing coyote, so Peter attempted to kill the coyote (without luck) and called 911. Cole kept the coyote pinned to the ground for nearly 30 minutes before police officers, unable to shoot the frantic animal b/c of the proximity of Cole, suffocated the animal. Lab tests revealed that the coyote was rabid. Cole suffered numerous bites and scratches requiring extensive stitches, as well as rabies vaccinations. Cole’s 4-year-old grandson will grow up a hero.

I met Art Cole on October 26, 2006, at Cedar Hill in Northborough. I had just started letterboxing, and I was sitting at the stone wall where the SVT letterbox “See-Der Pine Cones” is hidden. I was engrossed in the logbook, and I didn’t see him coming (rookie mistake). He made me jump a mile with his greeting! We chatted for quite some time, and two of the things I learned about Art that day were that 1) he was the guy who fought off the coyote, and 2) he had just stepped down as chair of the Northborough Trails Committee. He talked at length about the different trails in town, about which I was amazed. I’d lived here for 4 years and didn’t know about any of these places (except one). He even pulled out a map of some of the local trails and gave it to me. At some point during our conversation, he mentioned that the Trails Committee could always use volunteers, if I was interested (which I very much was). I couldn’t make it to the November meeting, and there is no meeting in December, but when I showed up in January, Art remembered me right away. Thus started my journey to “Board Member” of the Trails Committee and “Trail Steward” of the Cold Harbor Trail.

It’s perhaps ironic that Cole was the Chair of the Trails Committee at the time of the coyote attack, but not too far-fetched, since you would certainly expect such a person to be spending lots of time on the trails. The real irony, for me, is that Art was not only the Chair, he was the founder of the Committee. In 2001, Art went to Northborough’s Open Space Committee and asked if they’d be interested in having a Trails Committee. They enthusiastically agreed & appointed him chair. The extensive trail system we have in town now is a direct result of Art’s initiative. (Do you think the forest animals got together & figured out who was responsible, and then sent out Coyote?)

Thus the name of this trail. As Art explained it: “The trail was named for that misbegotten coyote who bit me as sort of a joke perpetrated by a humorous committee. One thing I have always liked about the committee is that we have so many good laughs at meetings.” And I couldn’t agree more—it’s a fun & hard-working group. And the evidence of this is the extensive very well-marked trail system in Northborough.

Crazy Coyote!

Yellick Conservation Land / Coyote Trail

**NOTE: Clue change (see below) as of March 23, 2008, due to extension of the Coyote Trail**

Stamp carved by The Merry Pranksters
Box planted by zess

The story behind the name "Coyote Trail"

Driving Directions
Trail map

** Bring your own ink **

Distance of hike: 0.5 miles each way out & back for a total of 1 mile

Terrain: This path cuts along the slope of a hill alongside the Assabet River. The trail is very narrow & eroded in places, and the river is directly down slope. THIS TRAIL IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR YOUNG CHILDREN! It is also not recommended for people with ankle problems b/c of the difficulty of walking along a steep slope. Finally, it is treacherous in slippery conditions, such as lots of rain, mud, snow, or ice. Other than all that, it is a perfectly lovely hike!


Park your car and walk back toward the road (away from the river). A Northborough Trails post is on the left. At this time, the path at the trailhead is covered with poison ivy & not well maintained. (Are you really still reading after all the warnings? Good, because your rewards will be great--this is a lovely area along the river and into the marsh.) However, there is an old road/cart path just 10 steps or so from the trailhead going in the direction of the road. This is periodically mowed, and is the preferred route at this time.

Follow the grassy road to where you have a clear shot of the river, then hug the river as you walk at the back boundaries of some houses. Please be respectful of the homeowners and stay close to the path. Very quickly you will come to a bridge where you will cross the Assabet River & begin the hike eastbound along the southern slope. Be VERY careful on this hike—the path is small & eroded, and the river is directly down slope.

Follow the path along the river to a grassy area with two chairs. Nice place to sit and relax. The opening here leads to a housing complex for over 55.


Once you get to the chairs, you will turn around and head back toward the trail you just came in on. Go to the first tree at the edge of the grassy area & the trail. This tree has a Northborough trail marker on it. From this tree, walk straight along the path for approximately 25 adult steps (it was REALLY dark when I was there, so this is approximate, but you are in the right area and shouldn't have trouble finding this next part). Stop and turn left (uphill). About 50 yards up into the woods you’ll see the obvious place for a hide--a boulder with a nice horizontal split. Remove some rocks and look in from the West side. Backtrack to the trailhead & your car.

If you'd like to join a fun group of Grateful Letterboxers, click here.

As with all of our letterboxes, we encourage feedback so that letterboxers will enjoy the hunts, and not get frustrated by poorly written clues or unintended hazards.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

Butterfly Girl

Stamp carved by zess
Box planted by Mim

Watson Park
Lyman Street, Northborough

Map it (nearest intersection): Bartlett Street and Lyman Street, Northborough MA

Driving directions can be found here
Trail map

As you enter, notice the butterfly garden around the rock on the left. Park at the traffic circle down by the pond.

**Bring your own ink**

Time: ~ 15 min
Terrain: Easy

Pick up the trail to the left of the boat ramp. On this trail you’ll be switching back and forth between woods and fields. You need remember only one thing-go where the red arrows and orange ties point you. Walk through the woods. Walk across a grassy clearing and enter the path at the "horse." Walk through the woods. When you come to the large open field notice the bird houses. These were put up to provide homes for bluebirds. Follow the arrow and the orange ties. Meadow. Woods. Stop at a 3-trunked tree on the right. Take 16 steps. Stop and look to your right at a pile of sticks and pine needles. Facing the pile, look under the edge of the pile on the right hand side at the base of a thin tree.

Return the way you came.

If you'd like to join a group of Grateful Letterboxers, click here.

As with all of our letterboxes, we encourage feedback so that letterboxers will enjoy the hunts, and not get frustrated by poorly written clues or unintended hazards.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.


Stamp carved by Dale End Farm
Box planted by Mim

Driving directions can be found here

The Carlstrom II Forest is managed by The New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF). NEFF is dedicated to providing for the conservation and ecologically sound management of privately owned forestlands in New England, throughout the Americas and beyond.

This mission encompasses:

* Educating landowners, foresters, forest products industries, and the general public about the benefits of forest stewardship and multi-generational forestland planning.
* Permanently protecting forests through gifts and acquisitions of land for the benefit of future generations.
* Actively managing Foundation lands as demonstration and educational forests.
* Conservation, through sustainable yield forestry, of a working landscape that supports economic welfare and quality of life.
* Supporting the development and implementation of forest policy and forest practices that encourage and sustain private ownership.

NEFF is today recognized as a leader in conserving working forests, educating the public about forestry, and assisting landowners in the long-term protection and sustainable management of their properties. NEFF is “green certified” under Forest Stewardship Council guidelines. NEFF manages 128 demonstration forests, totaling more than 23,000 acres. NEFF also holds 116 conservation easements protecting 1,136,000 acres. NEFF participates in a variety of forest policy discussions and activities that affect landowners and property managers in New England.

For more info: http://www.newenglandforestry.org/

**Bring your own ink**

1 hour, hilly

Northborough's Mastodon

A rich strike in mastodon teeth took place in Northboro in 1884 when the hired hands of farmer William U. Maynard were digging a drainage ditch in a hayfield and clunked against some teeth fifteen times larger than that of a horse or cow. The teeth were pronounced to be the authentic remains of Mastodon americanus by Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Intensified digging revealed no more teeth, but a brown human skull eighteen feet away. Rumors of an early folktale about a murdered traveling man appeared, and the Clinton Courant asked pointed questions: "Did the man kill the mastodon, or did the mastodon kill the man? If the man first killed the beast, what destroyed the man? If the beast first killed the man, what destroyed the beast?, or was it an “affair of honor,” fatal to both biped and quadruped? Did either slip in that Northboro pasture, fall, strike a Northboro boulder and break his neck in an attempt to annihilate his adversary—and if so, who and which?” Harvard ruled that the skull was that of an Indian female, not long in the peat and of no association with the mastodon.

Finding the trail head is the trickiest part of this hunt. The trail head is on the North side of Main Street in Northborough, about 0.4 miles west of Davis Rd, Northborough and about 0.5 miles east of Spring Street in Shrewsbury. There is a large kiosk- looking sign there, set at the tree line, that says "New England Forestry Foundation Carlstrom II Forest." There is no obvious parking area. Pull up onto the grass in front of the sign.

Facing the sign, the trail entrance is about 25 steps to the left. You’ll be following the blue dots on the Jubilee Trail. This trail loops through a diverse hardwood forest that is characteristic of central New England. Some trees, representative of different varieties, have been identified. Go left up the hill to start the loop. (Black Oak) Cross the dirt road and reenter the woods at the blue dot. (Pignut Hickory) Eventually a stone wall will come up on your left which you will parallel for a while until the path veers to the right. You’ll cross a log bridge and climb up a rocky path, and continue going gradually up (White Oak), up ( Black Birch), up. At a level spot there will be a large rock outcropping on the right. Continue going up and further, on the right, you’ll see a glacial erratic, a 3-4 foot rounded boulder, sitting on some vertically striated rock.

Now start to go down hill. Enjoy walking down hill while you can. After a while spy a red barn to the left, over the stone wall and through the trees. Further on there will be a weathered lean-to on the left. Cross the road, reentering the woods at the blue dot. In a while you’ll be walking along a ledge with its drop-off to your left. Start walking back up hill, still along the ledge. Pass the rock in the path that has 2 blue dots painted on it. When you come to the second blue dot on a tree, pull out your compass and look north. See the 3-trunked oak tree with the nice rectangular rock at its base? Look on the far side where the tree meets the rock. Enjoy a seat as you stamp in. Please make sure to tuck the box in well with leaves when you’re done.

Continue on the trail in the direction you were going, following the blue dots, (Sugar Maple) to finish the loop and return to your car.

If you'd like to join a fun group of Grateful Letterboxers, click here.
As with all of our letterboxes, we encourage feedback so that letterboxers will enjoy the hunts, and not get frustrated by poorly written clues or unintended hazards.

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

Northborough Trails Letterboxing Quest: Puzzle Pieces

Stamps carved and boxes planted by zess

Driving directions to all trails are here

***Bring your own ink; marker(s) recommended!***

Carney Park/Cold Harbor Trail

Start on path by kiosk. When path turns left and is gravel and you can see the huge boulder & dam ahead, there is a small many-trunked tree a step off the trail on the right. In the middle of all these trunks, under lots of debris to hide it, is the box. (There used to be a large tree stump it hid behind, but the stump has stumbled several feet down slope.)

** LBs on trail: Winter Dawn, Northborough Trails Quest: Map

Cold Harbor Extension

With the trailmap box on your left, face the trail. Note the long rock on the rock wall in front of you. Note the rock to it’s left—look under it, hidden in birch bark. YOU DO NOT NEED TO MOVE ANY ROCKS FROM THE WALL!

** LBs on trail: Cold Harbor Cattails

Carstrom Forest/Jubilee Trail

Enter the forest at the beginning of the trail (several yards west of the signboard) and take the path to the right. Pass the blue dot pole tree on the right, and stop at the next blue dot pole tree—this one on the left. Stop here and turn 90 degrees or so such that you are facing uphill. **Amended clue: Sight the largest tree at the top that is in your straight-on view. To the right of this tree is an interesting old stump with cool features. Go further along the trail and then climb to the top and head back toward that sighted tree. You'll run into that stump along the way. The box lies inside. Please be sure to cover well with bark, sticks, and/or leaves. Look at it from all angles to be sure it is concealed.

** LBs on trail: Mastodon

Cedar Hill

Clues start at the signboard.

Go straight past the signboard and follow the trail across the railroad tracks (careful here—they are active tracks), past the red gate, past the cedars, through the meadow, over the boardwalk, and to the bridge. Take two steps off the bridge. Find the 3-4 foot high tree stump approximately 20 feet into the woods. In that stump, near the top, back & left. BE CAUTIOUS OF POISON IVY HERE. It is not a big patch, and there is none on the stump, but step carefully as you approach the hide.

** LBs on trail: See-Der Pine Cones; SVT Letterboxing Challenge 2007: Crane Swamp Region – Cedar Hill and Sawink Farm

Edmund Hill Woods

Updated clue 3/30/12: Proceed down the path to station #4, which is by a large fallen tree. Walk along the fallen tree toward the top end where it is hugging another tree. Look right (west) for a 2-trunk tree approximately 15 steps off the trail. The box is hidden in the crook between the two trunks.

** LBs on trail: Save the Earth; High School Musical

Little Chauncy/Talbot Trails/Cole Trail

With the mapbox on your right, spot the railroad-tie-looking old fence post a few steps ahead of you (this is now lying on the ground alongside the trail). The box is in the end of this post, covered with leaves/wood. PLEASE cover it really super-well with leaves and bark before laying the top piece of wood over it.

** LBs on trail: Go, Dog. Go!; The Wild

Mt. Pisgah

Start to the right on the Loop Trail. At the fork, stay straight and pass through the pine saplings. Pass the two tall pines side-by-side on the left. Sixteen steps after those pines are another pair of pines, about 3 feet apart from each other, on the left. (NOTE: It seems the rest of the clues are not very good--folks are having trouble finding the box--so I've written a second (hopefully better) set of clues, which follow.)

With your left shoulder next to the pine (of the second pair, you know, three feet apart from each other) closest to the trail, take 14 steps along the path in the same direction you have been traveling. You should be standing just before a new stand of pine saplings starts. Turn to the left, and take 10 steps off the path. As you are taking these ten steps, you will have the line of three trees (oak-pine-oak) on your right side. You will now be standing at that small (very narrow circumference) dead tree with no head, that is growing out of rocks. One of those rocks forms a ledge, and the Mt. Pisgah box lies under that ledge, hidden by a loose rock and sticks.

** LBs on trail: Grateful Letterbox: Uncle Sam; Frog Went A Jumpin'; Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?; Up, Up, and Away

Watson Park

Drive past the boat ramp and park by the picnic table with a large rock behind it. Enter the trail, keeping the pond on your right. Pass the sawhorse with the white rectangular tube sticking out of the ground. At the fork, stay left toward the open field. Just before entering the field, on the right is a many-trunked (~12) tree. At the base of this tree, pond-side, under leaves is the box.

** LBs on trail: Butterfly Girl; Just Ducky

Yellick Conservation Area/Coyote Trail

Park in the middle of the parking lot facing the large boulders and looking out over the field. Look for deer at the far side of the field—I’ve had several sightings. The largest flat boulder, which looks ideal for stamping in, hides the Coyote letterbox under the back side.

** LBs on trail: Crazy Coyote

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.

"..... Grateful to be letterboxing ....."

Driving Directions to Northborough Trails

Carney Park/Cold Harbor Trail
Map it: West Main Street and Davis Street, Northborough MA

The access road is on West Main Street, directly across from Davis Street, and immediately west of Pendleton Square (386 West Main Street). There is a yellow Carney Park sign with the Northborough Trails icon. Turn onto the gravel road that climbs a small hill. At the end of the gravel road is a parking area & the trailhead kiosk.

Cold Harbor Extension

Map it: West Street and Cherry Street, Northborough MA

From 290: Take Exit 24 - Church Street. Travel south for 1 mile, and turn RIGHT onto West Street. Travel 0.5 mile to Cherry Street and park on the shoulder of West Street (parallel to road).

From Route 20 at Rt. 135: Head West on Rt. 20 (West Main Street) for 0.8 miles and turn RIGHT onto Crawford Street. Travel 1.1 miles and turn RIGHT onto West Street. Cherry Street is 0.2 miles ahead. Park on the shoulder of West Street (parallel to road).

Carstrom Forest/Jubilee Trail

Map it: Close to West Main Street and Crawford Street, Northborough MA

From 290: Take exit 23 onto 140 south/Boylston Street. Continue for approximately 1.8 miles to the center of Shrewsbury and turn left onto Main Street. Continue on Main Street which becomes West Main Street. The property is located on the north side of West Main Street, approximately 1.95 miles east of Shrewsbury, between Jubilee Road and Crawford Street.

From Route 20 (Main Street) at Route 135 (South Street): Head West for ~0.9 mile (the trailhead is just past Crawford Street, before Jubilee Road). It is easy to miss this—keep your eye out for the trail kiosk. Pull onto the shoulder & park (parallel to the road).

Cedar Hill
Map it:: 360 Cedar Hill Street, Northborough MA (note this is “Street” not road)

Take Route 495 to exit 23C (Simarano Drive exit). Continue to the lights at the end of the exit ramp. Take a LEFT at the lights onto Simarano Drive. Continue to another set of lights and take a RIGHT onto Cedar Hill Street. Parking for the reservation is at the Scholastic Book Fairs at 360 Cedar Hill Street. The entrance will be on your LEFT across from Forest Street.*

From Route 20 at Rt. 135: Travel EAST on Rt. 20 for 1.4 miles. Turn RIGHT onto Bartlett Street. Travel 1.5 miles to Cedar Hill Street. Go 0.3 mile and turn RIGHT into parking lot.*

*There is ample parking, labeled with SVT signs, immediately on your right. A trail easement, marked by posts and SVT markers leads around the wetlands and to a kiosk behind Scholastic Book Fairs.

The trail starts on the grass across the parking lot from the building that houses Scholastic Books and Fresenius Medical Care. The signs are plentiful. Walk along the mowed path (if not mowed, then you’ll want to walk along the parking lot to the back left corner of the building, as you’re looking at the building) to get to the trailhead kiosk.

Edmund Hill Woods
Map it: Allen Street and Rice Avenue, Northborough MA

Take 495 to Exit 24B "Route 20 to Northborough." Follow Route 20 West into Northborough. Look for Bambini’s restaurant on the right side. Approx. 2 miles after Bambini’s there will be a fork in road; bear RIGHT onto East Main Street. Take the 4th RIGHT onto Allen Street. At third road intersection (Rice Avenue & Allen Street) you will see the sign for Edmund Hill Woods ahead and to the left.

From Route 20 Eastbound: Pass the CVS and turn LEFT at the Exxon station onto Hudson Street. Travel approx 0.8 miles & you will pass under the aquaduct bridge. Take the first LEFT after the bridge, onto Allen Street. At the first stop sign you will be at the corner of Allen Street & Rice Street. You will see the sign for Edmund Hill Woods ahead and to the left.

Little Chauncy & Talbot Trails
Map it: Lyman Street and Hospital Road, Northborough MA

From Route 20 at Rt. 135: Travel EAST on Rt. 20 for 0.7 miles. Turn RIGHT onto Maple Street. Travel 0.4 mile and turn RIGHT onto Ridge Road. At dead-end, turn RIGHT onto Lyman Street. Travel approximately 0.6 mile.*

From Route 9: Turn North onto Lyman Street, and travel for 1.6 miles.*

* The entrance to the “Fisherman’s Access” is across the street from Chauncy Hall, immediately next to a small brick building covered with plywood. BE CAREFUL pulling in because it can be rough on the bottom of your car! Immediately after pulling in, park on the left side. The trailhead will be behind your car.

Mt. Pisgah
Map it (across the street): 19 Smith Street, Northborough MA

1) From Route 9 in Westborough
a. Exit Rt. 135 West toward Northborough
b. Pass Ellsworth-McAfee Park
c. Continue 1 mile to dead-end at Route 20
d. Left onto Rt. 20
e. Quick right, just past CVS, onto Church Street
f. Stay Left at the Y
g. Continue on Church St, 2 miles, until you see the I-290 interchange.
h. Just PASSED interchange, at Davidians Farm Stand, Right onto Ball Hill
i. Follow for 1.7 miles to deadend at Green Street
j. Left on Green Street for 0.4 miles
k. Right on Smith Road
l. In 0.3 miles, trailhead is on Right side of road

2) From Route 290
a. Take Exit 24, Church Street toward Boylston (North)
b. Follow directions from (h) above

Watson Park
Map it (nearest intersection): Bartlett Street and Lyman Street, Northborough MA

Take Rte 20 east from the center of Northborough for 1.4 miles to Bartlett Street. Turn RIGHT onto Bartlett Street and then turn RIGHT in 0.7 mile onto Lyman Street . Approximately 200 yards on the RIGHT look for a large rock sign for Watson Park (is partially obscured by garden growth at times). Enter there and notice the butterfly garden around the rock as you drive by. Park at the traffic circle down by the pond.

Yellick Conservation Area/Coyote Trail

Map it (across the street): 255 Hudson Street, Northborough MA

From 290: Exit 25A (Hudson Street/Northboro), continue on Hudson around a sharp curve to the right and a little further. Entrance is on the left (it is a VERY sharp left into the driveway at 7:00) across the street from 255 Hudson Street (a pink house). If you get to the aquaduct, you have missed it.

From Rt. 20: Turn north onto Hudson Street (this corner has an Exxon station & a church flanking Hudson Street). Travel ~1.3 miles to driveway on the right at 1:00, across the street from #255 (pink house). If you have reached a sharp turn to the left, you’ve missed it.

Park, and walk back toward the road (NOT toward the river).
Look left and you will see a Northborough Trails sign—this is the trailhead.

Please let us know if you find any errors in our directions!

NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer.