Willowdale Mill is the site of a 19th century textile mill constructed that produced various textiles until it was destroyed by fire in 1884. Remnants of the mill are still evident as is the sluiceway that channeled water from the Ipswich River to power the mill. The sluiceway is dry now, but still runs from one end of the property to the other. The surrounding woods are dotted with white pine, with fine broad paths carpeted in layers of pine needles for walking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and horseback riding.
Greenbelt acquired this 85-acre property, which is located on the Boxford/North Andover town line, in 2004. Carter Fields is located in an area with a significant base of conserved land owned by the town of North Andover, including the Mazurenko Farm (104 acres), Carter Hill (27 acres), and Barker Hill (55 acres). All of these parcels and Carter Fields are part of the Lake Cochichewik watershed, North Andover's sole source of drinking water.
The Farnsworth Reservation is adjacent to Town Farm, forming a greenbelt with state agricultural preservation restriction on Smolak Farm, state wetlands alongside Bruin hill, and town conservation land. Look for vernal pools, sedge meadow, Great Horned Owls, and snakes on this property. During drier months, a vernal pool may appear as a depression in a wooded area. See if you can find signs of where the water has been. For more information about vernal pools, consult the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team at www.capeannvernalpond.com.
The Ewell Reservation consists of old field, and young and mature white pine stands. The open field is leased to the Rowley Riding and Driving Club, which maintains the field in return for the use of the property. This upland is situated next to Upper Mill Pond, part of the Mill River system. The Ewell Reservation is a prime location to enjoy the splendor and beauty of waterfowl during the spring migration when the ducks are courting. Bring your binoculars!
Greenbelt parcels in the Rowley Marshes total about 175 acres, with the largest parcel being the 105-acre Alexander Salt marsh. The Rowley Marshes are part of The Great Marsh, which extends from Southern New Hampshire to Gloucester, and is the largest salt marsh ecosystem in the Northeast. The salt marsh is the single most important habitat in New England for the production and maintenance of life.
Actitivities include: hiking, birding & nature study, cross country skiing & snowshoeing.
Sawyer's Island sits in the marshes of Plum Island Sound, one of the most pristine marsh systems in the United States. Much of the land surrounding the island is protected by Greenbelt or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If you're adventurous you can drop a canoe or kayak into Mud Creek, and paddle out into Plum Island Sound. We recommend the months of October or November, when the insects have departed, and when you can float among the scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, goldeneyes, mergansers, and possibly harbor seals.
The Julia Bird Reservation is a good illustration of the effects of different kinds of forest and open field management upon the landscape. The forest in the front area is organically rich bottom-land that supports mature swamp white oak, red oak and red maple, including some trees with a diameter of nearly four feet.