North Central Bedford: North Road, Great Road, Route 62 to Old Billerica Road
From Great Road north to the Billerica boundary, the Town is bisected by the Town-owned North-South Railroad Bed, used as a walking and bike path. Along this corridor, the Town has acquired some of its most valued protected lands, including ponds, ledges and diverse upland landscapes. Springs Brook is the major stream in this area; however, the watershed divide between the Concord River and Shawsheen River bisects this area.
- Buehler Ponds
- Lane Farm
- Governor Winthrop
- Hayden Highlands
- Fawn Lake
- Wilderness Park
- Cappadona, Doyle
- Springs Brook
- Page School Outdoor Classroom
The Buehler Ponds Conservation Area includes a 6.4-acre parcel purchased in 1978 with State Self-Help funding and an adjoining 3-acre parcel acquired as a gift in 1987. The.96-acre Lane Farm Conservation Area was donated in 2008, and includes a portion of the upper pond shore and trail. Located adjacent to the north-south railroad bed, these sites contain upland forest, two man-made ponds, gneiss bedrock outcrops marked by glacial sculpting, and trails leading around the ponds and south to Job Lane School. Recommended improvements include control of emergent plant growth in the south pond and management of encroaching non-native vegetation below the outcrop. Parking is available at Job Lane School and on the railroad bed at Fawn Lake.
Governor Winthrop & Hayden Highlands
Two conservation areas comprising 18.35 acres were conveyed to the Town in 1995 as part of a residential subdivision design. The two parcels lie adjacent to each other and provide connections from Springs Road, Donovan Drive and Copeland Drive to the north-south railroad bed between Buehler Ponds and Fawn Lake. The two areas are additionally protected by conservation restrictions. The Governor Winthrop parcel is characterized by upland and wetland forested areas; the Hayden Highlands parcel includes a central shrub swamp and a vernal pool providing a habitat for wood frogs. Parking is available at Job Lane School or Fawn Lake. Management objectives include the expansion of the Governor Winthrop trail to Hayden Highlands and to Springs Road for a connection to the trails at Middlesex Community College.
The most visible and valuable conservation area in Bedford owes its popularity to the park-like setting with trails around a 12-acre pond, 2-acre lawn and 25-acre forest, purchased in 1979 with State Self-Help funding. The gift of the 3.5-acre Sheldon Conservation Area in 1992 established a valuable 2.3-acre buffer between Fawn Lake and nearby residential areas. A shrub swamp on the property provides a habitat quite different from the Fawn Lake area, and the preservation of woodland and swamp on the side of the railroad bed opposite Fawn Lake is extremely important to the preservation of the pond's visual attraction.
Fawn Lake's interesting past as a mineral springs health resort and early pharmaceutical center reminds the visitor that the lake has been a scenic and restorative attraction for over a century. Traces of the old mineral springs remain, but present use is more likely to be fishing, boating or strolling around the shore. Native vegetation predominates, and the shore is one of the best places in Bedford to see mountain laurel. Also scattered throughout the site are grand examples of former landscaping, such as Japanese maple, magnolia, wisteria and rhododendron. Parking is available on Sweetwater Avenue or the railroad bed.
The Commission's greatest conservation management challenge is the control of invasive aquatic vegetation, which is causing the gradual eutrophication of the pond. This has been the subject of extensive study, resulting in a lengthy program of hydro raking and herbicide treatment. Long-term management goals include additional hydrocracking and control of damage to paths and vegetation from beaver activity.
Wilderness Park & Cappadona
This large woodland and wetland area has proved to be a significant haven for a wide variety of wildlife. Its location north of the VA Hospital grounds and within the Springs Brook corridor results in a rich combination of diverse habitats and edge areas. Wilderness Park includes two parcels conveyed to the town between 1959 and 1983 from the federal government as surplus property, together comprising over 73 acres. Deed restrictions limit uses to those related to conservation and recreation. The 1983 Annual Town Meeting transferred the management of the park to the Commission. This large tract supports a varied wildlife population, including pileated woodpeckers, barred owl and fisher. Parking is available at the VA Hospital / Middlesex Community College parking lot south of Fawn Lake.
The trail system at Wilderness Park is well-maintained, and has been enhanced by two recent bridge and bog bridge projects. Current improvements include the construction of additional trails to connect existing pathways. The Cappadona Conservation Area is a 12.5-acre property situated adjacent to Wilderness Park along Springs Brook. Acquired in 1993 as a gift in association with a small residential subdivision, the parcel is particularly important as a wetland turtle habitat. A wetland trail from Wilderness Park would allow viewing of Springs Brook and its bordering marshes.
The Springs Brook Conservation Area, acquired in 1966, is a 20.5-acre property south of Wilderness Park and Cappadona. Located next to the Springs Brook Park recreation area, it provides additional passive recreational opportunities as well as a buffer to Springs Brook. The extensive Springs Brook corridor includes Wilderness Park, Cappadona, the VA Hospital open grounds, the Springs Brook properties, the Carleton-Willard Conservation Restriction, and Page School Outdoor Classroom at Old Billerica Road. Public access to the Springs Brook Conservation Area is available at Springs Brook Park and from the end of Francis Kelley Road. Future efforts should include reconstruction of the boardwalk and bridge across Springs Brook to Carleton-Willard, and coordination with Carleton-Willard management for use of the trails to Old Billerica Road.
This property was purchased by the Town in 1963 as surplus land from the federal government; partial reimbursement was acquired as Bedford's first State Self-Help Project. The land was conveyed for conservation use, and for some years the Town was required to report to the U.S. Department of the Interior on its status and maintenance. The land contains mature forests and both wooded and open wetland areas. York is accessible from the north-south railroad bed. New trails have been developed and bog bridges have been installed over the wetter areas.
Page School Outdoor Classroom
When the Town sold the Page School site, this small area was retained as a 1.4-acre nature study area. Springs Brook flows alongside the property just before passing under Old Billerica Road. Numerous species of marsh and aquatic vegetation occur in this small area, including a dense cat-tail marsh. Easy access from Old Billerica Road provides the potential for increased use. A small viewing and sitting area might encourage walkers to stop and explore, and a sign would help to identify intended use.
This 4-acre conservation area was purchased in 2006. Located between Old Billerica Road and Sweeney Ridge Road, the area contains an old field, red maple swamp and shrub swamp / bog areas supporting a number of amphibians. No trails have been established, although access is available over an easement from Sweeney Ridge Road.
Three parcels of land were acquired as a 6.1-acre combined purchase and gift in 2009. The largest of the three is located off Old Middlesex Road, and contains part of the headwaters to Peppergrass Brook.