July 2013 - Great Brook Farm State Park

Carlisle, MA

Great Brook Farm is studded with local flavor. American Indians were known to use sections of this land as sacred sites. In 1691 John Barett built one of the first cloth-pulling mills in America here. It was later joined by a sawmill and a gristmill and an iron mill. Cellar holes from the dwellings of millworkers can still be readily observed from the trails. One, a garrison where pioneers erected a stone house for protection from Indian attacks, is 15 feet deep. In 1938 Farnham Smith bought a modest 8-acre farm here to raise Holstein cows. He slowly acquired adjoining land until he owned nearly 1,000 acres. In 1974, the land became part of the Massachusetts park system. In 1987 Mark and Tamma Duffy leased part of the park and moved their 120-head herd of cows to Great Brook with the proviso that it operate as an interpretive farm park for the public. 

Just about anything your dog’s hiking heart desires is on the menu at Great Brook Farm. Is he looking to reconnect with his old farm dog ancestors? Try the Lantern Loop and interpretive trail around the corn and hayfields. Panting for an all-day-wear-me-out adventure? There are over 20 miles of wooded trails beyond the farm fields. Remember to toss in the Heartbreak Ridge above Tophet Swamp for that outing. Just after one of the most pleasant woodland strolls in eastern Massachusetts? Head down the Pine Point Loop around Meadow Pond. Does your dog desire a little cardio work? The twists and turns around Indian Hill are the answer. However you craft your canine hiking day at Great Brook expect roomy, well-maintained footpaths. The occasional glacial erratic helps decorate the historic, ecologically rich farmland as well.  

There is no sweeter bonus for your dog in Massachusetts than a stop at the Great Brook Farm Ice Cream Stand after a hike. The stand dishes out 60 flavors of ice cream produced from the farm’s dairy herd. Great Brook Farm was once the home of Prospera, a Holstein heifer who produced 30,000 gallons of milk in her lifetime and in 1969 was the second-highest producing cow in North America. Her gravesite is on the farm, just past the parking area on North Road. The tasty offerings from the Ice Cream Stand are available from mid-April through Halloween.

From Route 128 take exit 31B. Follow Route 225 west for 8 miles to the Carlisle center rotary, then turn right on Lowell Street (following the sign to Chelmsford.) The Park entrance is two miles ahead on the right. The Park Office (984 Lowell Street) is just beyond the entrance, also on the right. Make a right hand turn onto North Road. Parking area is 1/2 mile down on the left.