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Fox Valley Conservation Area (Phillipston)

Ownership: 
Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust
Gift From: 
Helvi Frilander (1990) and the Hazeltine Family (1998)
Directions: 

From Phillipston Common (junctions of Templeton and Petersham Roads), drive west on Petersham Road and bear right (east) onto Lincoln Road. Cross two streams and pass the sign for the Popple Camp Brook Wildlife Management Area. The entrance to the Sanctuary is on the right side of Lincoln Road just past the second stream crossing (less than 1 mile). Look for the kiosk at the trailhead, and park in the lot.

To find Phillipston Common, take Rte 2 to exit 19 and then take 2A West briefly until you see Baldwinville Road (next to the King Phillip Restaurant). Turn left on Baldwinville Road and head south about 1.5 miles to Phillipston Common.

Fox Valley (which was given its name by students of the Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at its dedication in 1990) is a 100-acre wood of mixed New England hardwoods and conifers. You enter the trail on Lincoln Road and are immediately enclosed in shade. Take note of the plaque on a boulder at the trail’s entrance, noting the gift by Helvi Frilander in memory of her husband Toivo.

Several hundred yards in, the trail (which was re-cleared by local scouts in 2011) forks. Follow the right fork across a few easy watercourse crossings on rocks or logs. You will meet up briefly with a stone wall that marks the eastern boundary of the property. Once it has threaded through the assorted wet areas, the trail will head uphill on a gentle slope, then gradually turn west and head downhill through a stand of large hemlocks, to meet Popple Camp Brook.

Continue to walk south along the stream; a few hundred yards downhill, you will cross the stream. The trail now heads north, then northwest out of the stream valley to a rocky but relatively flat terrace, crossing another small branch of Popple Camp Brook. To the west of you are relatively steep, rocky hillsides that are riddled with seeps. These moist, cool conditions create good habitat for interesting plants like Christmas fern. Walk southwest along this terrace, at the foot of the rocky slope, then head uphill toward the western boundary of the property, marked by a stone wall. Follow the stone wall south, crossing perpendicular stone walls that once marked pastures and homesteads. Proceeding downhill to the southeast, you will soon meet the original trail. The trail follows a heart-shaped route that takes about two hours to complete.

Fox Valley is the site of Mount Grace’s 2010 sustainable forestry project funded by the federal Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. The project, compliant with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines, was planned and reviewed as part of Mount Grace’s application for green certification at Fox Valley.

The property is open to the public for non-motorized outdoor recreation including hiking, bird watching, and nature study. Fox Valley is an amalgamation of different parcels donated to Mount Grace by different landowners. Hunting is allowed on the Hazeltine parcel (~ the northern 50 acres) and prohibited on the Frilander parcel (~ the southern 50 acres).

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