Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge
Not too far from our house lies a national wildlife refuge that we knew nothing about. I can't believe it took us this long to find out about Assabet NWR. I had seen ANWR a few times on maps of the area but never really gave it much thought. It wasn't until we were looking for something to do on a warm January day that we gave the refuge a visit. Tucked into woods of metro west Massachusetts, this former Devins Army Annex has become a wonderful place to take a quick hike. As a former Army training facility, ammunition and weapons storage location (more on that in a minute) & pollution SuperFund site, it's amazing what has been done to return ANWR to its natural beauty. It's also a testament to what can be done when nature and the outdoors is made a priority.
We started our adventure with a trip to, of course, the visitors center. Staffed by an amazing group of very passionate workers, the exhibits showed the wildlife native to the surrounding area. They even had a tiny gift shop, which was great for getting Logan his own set of ($10) binoculars for bird-watching. With the staff's knowledge we were able to get a decent grasp on the history of the area and it's transition from Army training to beaver and bird watching.
From the visitors center we ventured down the main park road to Winterberry way, this dirt road is flanked on either side by beautiful flood plains and ponds that are a direct result of hard work by the native beavers. Taylor Way was next as we made our journey over toward Otter Alley - this nice little single track trail led us to a more wilderness vibe, which made the adventure much more fun for our little explorer. As we started to loop back to the car we made our way down Harry's Way. It was on Harry's way that we can across something completely unexpected. There, tucked into the forest, overgrown and shrouded in fog, was a former ammunition bunker. We were taken aback at first as it seemed as though we stumbled onto the set of a horror movie. It was amazing to think that not too many years earlier, this, and many of the other bunkers like it, we're packed high with ammunition and weapons. Now, we are delighted to say, these bunkers are used for a much more noble cause, shelter for the native critters away from the cold, winter, New England winds. We're excited to return to ANWR this summer to check out their fishing dock and explore more of the trails and maybe, watch the local beavers continue to return the area to its natural beauty.