For our hike this week, my kids and I and another homeschooling family went to Nashoba Brook Conservation Land in Acton, Massachusetts (not to be confused with Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Westford, Massachusetts). I chose it because it was near a brook and included what remains of a 19th-century pencil factory. And really, what’s cooler than a 19th-century pencil factory?
There’s one main trail at Nashoba Brook—a 2-mile, yellow-blazed loop. This main trail hooks into the Bay Circuit Trail for those looking for a longer hike.
There are no facilities at Nashoba Brook, but there is a kiosk at the Davis Road trailhead with lots of scary warnings about deer ticks.
At the site of the old pencil factory stands another educational kiosk. In the few minutes we spent there, I learned more about pencil production than—well, than I knew there was to learn about pencil production.
A mom who was interested in the hike asked me if the trail was stroller-friendly. I’d never done the hike before, so based on the pictures I found of the trail online, I gave her my best guess that a jogging stroller would not easily make it around the entire loop.
We didn’t have to travel far to have this guess confirmed.
Not only was the trail very muddy in many spots (likely a result of the torrential rainfall we’ve had in the past week or so), it was also quite rocky in places. Well-maintained wooden bridges and boardwalks span the most difficult-to-traverse waterways, but we crossed the smaller creeks by hopping from rock to rock, and sometimes by stepping into the creek itself when we missed a rock, which I suspect my son did intentionally at least once.
Even in the non-muddy places, tons of poison ivy lined the narrow trail much of the way, offering my children a review lesson in poison ivy identification and prompting me to parrot “stay in the middle of the trail!” for two miles.
In spite of the wet weather and the swarms of mosquitoes intent upon using our blood to enable them to lay their eggs, we made it all the way around the loop, and the four-year-old and the nearly-four-year-old each broke personal records and walked (or ran) the entire way. It was a lovely hike with the chance to learn about pencil production and with lots of access to bodies of water into which my children could throw sticks and rocks.
We loved our hike at Nashoba Brook, and we’ll make a point of getting back there, hopefully on a drier day.