Wildlands Trust - Willow Brook Farm Preserve, 99 Barker St, Pembroke, MA 02359, USA
Owned By: Wildlands Trust
The Wildlands Trust owns these 167 acres of upland and wetlands at the confluence of Pudding and Herring Brooks. The area is renowned as one of the most diverse and interesting inland natural areas in Southeastern Massachusetts. Walking trails lead to an observation platform with an unspoiled view of the 2,000-acre Herring Brook valley. The views change with the seasons. This is definitely a place that rewards repeat visits.
Willow Brook Farm is actually a collection of smaller properties purchased by, or donated to, the Wildlands Trust between 1997 and 2005. They include Willow Brook Farm itself (73 acres, 1997); Fleetwood Farm (20 acres, 1997); Gillette-Sherman Preserve (7 acres, 1998); Lower Neck Preserve (40 acres, 1999); Missing Link Preserve (24 acres, 2002); and Slavin Preserve (3.2 acres, 2005) Donors include Burton Sherman & Bob Gillette, Sharon Slavin, and several private/anonymous individuals and families.
Look for the informational kiosk near the property entrance. A combination of cart paths, boardwalks, and narrow trails leads through freshwater swamp, mature forest, and open fields. Stone walls serve as a reminder of the area’s agricultural past. One of Willow Brook Farm’s best features is the tall observation tower that offers a fantastic view of the Herring Brook Valley. Many of the property’s trails form intersecting loops. The Todd Trail features two boardwalks and an up-close view of Pudding Brook, plus access to a spur trail that leads to Pembroke’s Misty Meadows Conservation Area.
Habitats and Wildlife
Abundant wildlife make their home here in the Herring Brook Valley. Even though it lies 11 river miles upstream of the ocean, the water level in the freshwater marsh still rises and falls with the tides. More than 2,000 acres of undeveloped land and freshwater swamp provide an ideal habitat for mammals, amphibians, and birds — both common species and also those deemed “at risk” by Partners In Flight. In the spring, this is a great place to observe migrating species such as warblers (various types), ruffed grouse, woodcock, indigo bunting and great blue heron. Listen for the hoots of owls. You might spy a river otter, spotted turtle, beaver, coyote, or deer. And be sure to look for the Allegheny Mound Ants! They create mounds up to 1 foot high and 3 feet wide, which are hard to miss in the open meadow. Just don’t get too close — they bite!
In addition to the pine, oak, and other common species of trees, look for the much-more-rare grove of ironwood on the property.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 167 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Informational kiosk, benches, a picnic area, and an observation platform.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes