Even after more than 18 years writing this column, I find there are still places fr me to discover on the South Shore. My latest ‘find is Round Pond in Duxbury. Sure, I was aware of it. In fact, I even walked there once, many years ago, when the North & South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA) led an expedition to find the source of the South River (which is very likely a spring in the Round Pond area). But it wasn’t until last month that I finally took some time to explore this conservation area’s network of trails.
Round Pond is much more than just a pond. The property’s namesake – a 10,000-year old kettle hole — lies at its center. Pine and oak woods surround the pond, and contain a number of intersecting, well-marked trails, some of which traverse wetlands via boardwalk. There are other surface waters nearby too – active cranberry bogs and reservoirs, other ponds, and even a small lake. The property comprises 170 acres in total.
According to Duxbury’s handy property guide (available on the town website), in the 1880s Round Pond was known as Cole’s Pond, and was the site of the Merry Family’s ice house. During the winter, ice from the pond was cut into blocks and stored nearby, with sawdust for insulation. Amazingly, this kept the ice intact into the spring and summer, when it was delivered to private homes. The ice operation continued into the 1940s, after which refrigerators rendered it obsolete.
The property’s “icy” history goes much farther back, though. Kettle hole ponds are formed by melting glaciers, and this one dates back to about 10,000 BCE. According to Samantha Woods, NSRWA’s Executive Director, natural ponds such as this are unusual in our area. Most of the South Shore’s ponds were formed “as a result of the industrial damming of our rivers, first to run saw and grist mills . . . and then (later) for factories.”
As far back as the 1890s, the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society began protecting and preserving the area around the pond, purchasing a total of almost 50 acres. The current trails were opened decades later, in 1986, the result of a joint effort by the Rural and Historical Society and Mass Audubon, which maintains the adjacent wildlife sanctuary at North Hill Marsh.
The trails at Round Pond are ideal for walking. Many of them are wide enough to accommodate two or more people. I encountered several dog-walkers the morning I was there, as well as a few runners. From the appearance of some of the secondary trails, it looks like mountain bikers enjoy the property as well (I’ve heard that the trails across the street are more appealing for cyclists, however). There is also a nicely-placed wooden bench overlooking the pond.
You can access Round Pond via Mayflower Street, where there is a good-sized parking area. There is also foot access from East Street and near the intersection of Elm and School Street and Tobey Garden Road. Dogs are welcome, provided that they are under control at all times, and cleaned-up-after. Motorized vehicles are prohibited, as are hunting and trapping.
by Kezia Bacon
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 15 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com