My bucket list of Boston area wikes had Noanet Woodlands on it for quite some time. If you haven’t been there yet, it should be on your short list, too!
When we finally made it to Noanet Woodlands, a 600 acre property of The Trustees in Dover, Massachusetts, it just so happened to be perfect weather. The sky was clear and sunny, the air was a crisp 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was a beautiful layer of snow on the ground. It was the first day of daylight savings time, so we put on our hats and boots and made use of our extra hour of sun to hit the trails.
We started at Caryl Park, where there was a parking lot (and also an old pay phone booth with no phone… which I always find funny for some reason). If you put “Noanet Woodlands” into your GPS, it will take you to a different starting point. Use "Caryl Park" instead.
I highly recommend starting from Caryl Park when you are with children. The terrain on the following hike is varied, which keeps it interesting! This is a carrier-only route; strollers will not work. It’s also a great place to bring your dog—which is fun for both for dogs and for babies who like to check out dogs!
The trails are extremely well-marked, but it doesn’t hurt to take a map (or a photo of the trail map located at the trail head) with you. You can plan ahead with the trail map here. Heading out from Caryl Park, follow the red blaze trail across the road and past the big boulder. If it’s rained lately or snow is melting, you’ll also traverse around a very large puddle. If you and you’re child are appropriately dressed, I would definitely spend some time stomping all around it on the way back!
One great thing about well-marked trails (you know, besides not getting lost) is that they are perfect for teaching colors and for keeping the little ones moving. Wike Baby stopped to high five all of the “red balls” dotting the trees, which I hope will help her learn the word “red”. She seemed to love doing it and smiled every single time. For older children, my experience is that looking for the next trail marker can keep them motivated and give them a sense of leadership along your hike.
At marker 3, head left up the small hill to stay on the red blaze Caryl Loop trail, and then at marker 4, bear right and head past marker 38. Enjoy the scent of the forest, and if you have a little Wike Baby who is getting cranky like ours was, sing “The _____ in the Woods” to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”, currently her favorite song. I revise it every time I sing it, and it’s getting quite good, if I may say so myself; I should probably copyright it.
You’ll approach the old Dover Union Iron Mill Site and dam, which is really awesome to check out. The signage is old and illegible, but you can image what it once was and what it was used for. If you have older children, I recommend you turn on your imaginary imagination helmets and picture what it was like and who was there when it was built and first used to manufacture barrel hoops and nails in 1815.
Here you’ll see marker 37 and you’ll bear right and start on the yellow blaze Noanet Peak Trail. Before heading up the hill, take a quick detour to check out Lower Mill and Upper Mill Ponds. They are gorgeous.
It gets steeper here, so watch your footing. It also gets even more beautiful, so do stop to look around, as well! Soon, you’ll arrive at an area speckled with boulders—you’ve reached Noanet Peak! It’s only 387 ft above sea level yet offers sweeping views of the forests below and the city of Boston in the distance. Bring your binoculars for a better view.
This would be a great spot to stop for a picnic, snack, or water break. Wike Baby had a milk break and we were ready to head on our way.
You could easily continue along the yellow blaze trail loop and meet back up with the red dot trail. On our trip, the sun was beginning to set and that gorgeous golden hour was upon us. We just HAD to see the ponds again in the fading sunlight, so we backtracked the same way we came.
I’d like to give a huge shout out to The Trustees, which cleared all of the trails from so many fallen trees after our last big winter storm. Because of their hard work, the paths were accessible. It reminds me that the admission we pay to enjoy their events helps keep the trails in great condition for our recreation.
With 17 miles of trails, this is just one route of about 3 miles; however, it was perfect for our little wike family and for anyone with young children. The property also abuts Hale Reservation (check out my post about it), which could be a fun exploration if you’re into the taking the road less traveled!
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Have you been to Noanet Woodlands? What is your favorite trail or part?