There they were, a large group of volunteers – boy scouts, cub scouts, fathers, mothers and pack leaders – I would easily estimate sixty or more; gathered by the first dam at the Artichoke River Nature Trail.
Purpose: to restore an old trail that used to clearly lie between Plummer Spring Lane and Route 113 (Storey Avenue).
I was there mainly because I have had years of maintaining the Little River Nature Trail across from the Newburyport Park & Ride. Though city property, Parker River Clean Water Association has had a unique relationship by which a private, 501(c )3 non-profit has been put ‘in charge’ of the upkeep.
But, I hardly needed to be there.
They took a tangled mess of a path barely visible to the naked eye and turned a 1.4 mile stretch into something you would find in a national park. They raked, they cleared – why they even bordered with stretches of log.
It was beautiful and did it with blinding speed (Less than three hours).
I stared with fascination as a small group of skilled scouts built a rock bridge over a gulley – arranging the stones so water would course over but a flat surface under for steady footing. It was an engineering marvel. Another group re-routed the path so it would not disturb the trees and brush and provide a hiker a safer route.
Soon, map boxes and rail markers will be installed but they will be hardly be needed as the path is so neat and orderly.*
But even with all that efficiency, the children and the adults kept stopping and marveling how utterly beautiful it was along the way. They kept saying, “I can’t believe this is in Newburyport!” Others exclaimed, “I can’t believe this spectacular scenery is so close to where I live!” or the most common statement, “I didn’t know this lovely area was even here!”
It’s actually working out – because you too will have to come out and see this. Thanks to the boy scouts of the local Yankee Council, you will have the confidence to focus on the scenery and the wildlife without wondering where the heck you are. I might want to add that after the gauntlet of winter, that the most precious of flowers, the Lady’s Slipper is commonly found along the trail.
But before the winter comes, go on out – the path is wide now to avoid the clinging ticks, the bugs are largely gone and the air is crystal clear – and the autumn colors reflect most satisfyingly across the rippling waters of the second large lake in the Artichoke Reservoir.
See you out there – I’ll be there taking pictures – bring your picture-taking apparatus too!
* This path is DEFINITELY NOT handicap-accessible. Those who are physically challenged but want to experience the beauty of our wildlife habitat should take either the Eastern Old Marsh Rail Trail in Salisbury or the Gloria Braunhardt Little River Bike Path. Both are level and mostly paved.