June 2014: Noanet Woodlands

Dover, Massachusetts

This land was cleared for settlement and industry early in the 19th century. Samuel Fisher, Jr. used Noanet Brook to operate a sawmill, producing lumber to raise the blossoming town of Dedham. Later, the Dover Union Iron Company installed a large rolling and slitting mill that made barrel hoops, wheel rims, nail plates, and nail rods from forged iron. In 1923, Amelia Peabody purchased Mill Farm on Dedham Street and for the next six decades she shaped the Noanet Woodlands of today. She bequeathed the original land for the 695-acre park in 1984. 

You can’t get there from here. Noanet Woodlands is a paradise for trail dogs; Caryl Park doesn’t allow dogs. There is no parking for Noanet Woodlands, you have to park in Caryl Park. You can’t get there from here. It can be confusing to newcomers but dogs are allowed on the trail/road from the parking lot that leads into the woodlands. Alternately you can park be hind the ballfields and enter the woodlands back there. Just don’t let your dog stray off that golden path. This is flat-out one of the best places in Massachusetts to hike with your dog. The trails are wide and paw-friendly dirt and, especially in the early going, woodchips. There may be more dogs than people in the Noanet Woodlands at any given time and leashes are as seldom seen as unhappy canine hikers. There are 17 miles of trails packed into the park, with the most common destination being the modest 387-foot Noanet Peak. Many routes lead to the open, rocky summit with its one-way view straight into downtown Boston. Most involve only modest exertion save for a short, steep final surge to the top.  

Today the mill pond is postcard worthy, nestled into a peaceful sylvan setting. But this was a serious industrial site 150 years ago. The dam stood 24 feet high and the mill was powered by a mammoth 36-foot overshot waterwheel. A flood destroyed the dam in 1876 but Amelia Peabody rebuilt it in 1954 to restore the pond, without the hustle and bustle of the mill.

From Dover Center, take Dedham Street east .6 mile to Caryl Park entrance and parking on right.