Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ravenswood Day Hike

Last weekend I went for a short hike in Ravenswood Park with my friend Runnin'Rob. I've been to the park two other times to run The Ravenswood Trail Race but this time I wanted to venture into areas of the park not seen from the race course. Ravenswood is a 600 acre property in Gloucester, MA managed by The Trustees of Reservations. With 10 miles of trails and carriage roads, abandoned quarries and views of the Atlantic from rocky hilltops, there's plenty to explore.

Aerial view of Ravenswood hike.

A light snowfall earlier in the week, and the subsequent thawing and refreezing that followed, left several hundred feet of boardwalk over the Great Magnolia Swamp coated in a layer of ice. This made for a treacherous start to the hike but we managed to cross without incident. After the icy beginning, we found ourselves on a rocky and rooty single-track trail skirting the swamp. It was a very cold afternoon but I began to warm up as we gained elevation out of the swamp onto higher ground.

Interesting rock formation on the Magnolia Swamp Trail

About a mile later we turned onto the Fernwood Lake Trail which loops through the north-west section of the park, past Fernwood Lake (DUH!!) and a large watershed area. The trails in Ravenswood are well marked but somehow I manged to lead us off-trail while we were talking like a couple of giddy teenage girls. This resulted in 15 minute detour but we weren't in any hurry so no harm was done. After losing the trail, Rob took up the lead position and got us back on track. Rob, who is visually impaired, came up with the quote of the day exclaiming, "You know it's bad when the blind guy is leading the way!"  I have to say he did a better job than me.

Rocky Fernwood Lake Trail 

Path between Fernwood Lake and small pond

Leaving the lowlands of the Fernwood Lake Trail behind, we began a climb to higher elevation along a ridge on the Ledge Hill Trail. A mountain of jumbled, granite blocks and smooth cliff faces with deep pools on icy water below were evidence the area was once home to a small-scale granite mining operation. When reaching an overlook facing to the east, we decided to take a short break for a snack and some hydration (just water my friends). Although heavily overcast, Eastern Point Lighthouse at the entrance to Gloucester Harbor was visible from our vantage point.

 Rob stands next to a mountain of cut granite.

 View of the Atlantic from Ledge Hill Trail

Eastern Point Lighthouse is visible in this zoomed photo.

It was too cold to linger so we decided to get moving again before the chill crept into my tired old bones. Once back to my car at the trail head I checked my Garmin and saw we covered nearly six miles, which surprised me a bit. It didn't seem like we were out very long. I guess hiking with a friend makes all the difference.

Time really does fly when you are having fun!

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