Sibley Farm / Burncoat Pond – Spencer

For the second day in a row, we were able to get out for a hike. Today was our usual Saturday, with a couple hour break while Evie was in gymnastics. We were forced to leave a bit later than usual due to a delivery (my snowblower has been repaired; you can all thank me later when we get no snow this year) so we picked a spot close to home which was new to us.

In Spencer, a couple towns away, there’s a large plot of land (the Sibley and Warner Farm land, plus the Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary) with 8 miles of trails on it, managed and preserved by a special partnership of three separate groups: the Mass Audubon Society, the Greater Worcester Land Trust, and the Common Ground Land Trust.  You can read about it preservation in the Audubon Society press release here and check out the map here.  I’ve wanted to visit it for a while but hadn’t made it out there yet.  We decided to do a few miles there today and see what it was all about.

The parking area is on Greenville Rd, which is right off of Route 9 in Spencer.  It’s very easy to find.  At the lot is a massive informational kiosk outlining the partnership that has preserved this land, and outlining some of the trails and regulations for use of the land on the different parts of the property (no pets or hunting in the wildlife sanctuary, for example).

We decided to head into the Sanctuary first, following the Flat Rock Trail.  The trail slopes up a large open field and then enters a thick wood, as seen below.


The trail is very interesting but not difficult.  It is winding and uneven, but not steep in any spots.


It’s a mix of younger trees and some old behemoths.


We stepped off the trail briefly to explore a stone path out to an island on Burncoat Pond.  The island had views of the homes on the south section of the pond, and I imagine residents must frequently come out to the island either by boat or across the ice, as we found a fairly permanent fire pit loaded with charcoal there.011


Not far from the island, we found Richard’s Overlook, with beautiful views from a boulder to the entire northern part of the pond.



We continued to explore a bit, after finishing the Flat Rock Trail and moving on to the Kalmia Loop, dense with mountain laurel.


As we approached the two mile mark and checked the time, we realized we couldn’t do a longer loop, and cut the hike short, returning back mostly the way we had come.  We took a small detour on the Bluebird Trail which approached the parking area from a slightly different angle.


The Bluebird Trail also corresponds with the Midstate Trail for a few feet, giving me another Midstate Trail sign photo-op.


Back at the car we found we had finished three miles.  We were glad to get out of the chilly air, and on the ride home the snow began to fall.

We barely covered the surface of this property today and fully intend to come back and explore many more of the trails.  We are fortunate to have so many great and large properties within convenient distance of our home.