Horn Pond Reservation hiking & more

Article by Arnie P

Glacial rock in Horn Pond Reservation

Introduction
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I have been coming to Horn Pond Reservation since the late 70’s. My major activities include sailing lessons, trying kayaks, and hiking alone or with groups year around. The hiking varies from flat and easy to steep and strenuous. The ledge part of the mountain may have parts that need rock climbing gear. The other parts of the ledge side of the mountain is a challenge although for only a short distance. A condensed sample of many of the types of trails encountered in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There is variety in the wet areas to include a bog, marsh, lagoon, stream, and a lake with island and dam.
Horn Pond Reservation is changing both by people and nature. Some of the man-made changes include added protection to prevent accidents, memorials. As usage, increases minor trails appear, and some minor trails go back to nature takes the trail back with growth.
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Description
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Horn Pond Reservation consists of 633 acres of which 133 acres of it is Horn Pond. Mount Towanda overlooks this reservation and is 287 feet above sea level. Some of the key features of the reservation include bird watching, use of non-motorized boats, fishing, walking and hiking trails. Some glacier rocks, a place where Native Americans ground grains. Swimming is not allowed.
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Location
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Located in the Woburn Massachusetts. The approximate boundaries of Horn Pond Reservation are Pleasant Street on the northern side, Arlington Road on the eastern side, Lake Avenue on the southern side, and the Woburn Country club on the western side.

Horn Pond

The Native Americans called this pond Innitou, translated means “Mirror of the Spirit.”The pond covers 133 acres. The pond has the greatest depth of 40 feet and an average of 10 feet. The pond receives its water from a stream. The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game stocks Horn Pond with trout in spring and fall. A survey from 1982 recorded 13 species of fish.
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Mt Towanda

The name Towanda was the name used by the Native Americans. The mountain has a height of 287 feet above sea level and covers an area of 40 acres. The top of the mountain has a lot of flatness, a few trees and excellent views of the surrounding areas including Boston. Other points of interest include an
abandoned reservoirIndian bowl, ski jumplunch rock, and the Nolan trail.

Community Gardens

The Community Garden plots are 28 feet by 28 feet ( 784 square feet)and leasing available on a yearly basis. One does not have to be a Woburn resident. Organic plots are also available. This is something I would find desirable if it were close to where I live.

 

The Interactive Map of Horn Pond Reservation

This interactive map provides the best resource for quick access to information about the Horn Pond Reservation. A few places are still under construction.

The major parts of the Horn Pond Reservation

    • Horn Pond
    • The lagoon or North of the Causeway
    • Cattail marsh and community gardens
    • The area between the lake and the Woburn Country Club
    • Mount Towanda
    • The Main Entrance

The Main Entrance

Although there are many ways to walk into Horn Pond Reservation most people arrive in cars and park in the main parking lot off Lake Avenue. From the parking lot, there is easy access to the restrooms. The electric substation is visible behind the restrooms. To the west, the water works pump station is visible. Looking north is Horn Pond and the one of two boat launches. Walking east out of the parking lot we pass by Scalley Dam. Our tour will start by heading east toward Scalley Dam.

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Scalley Dam

Scalley Dam controls the water level in Horn Pond and the overflow goes into the Horn Pond Brook which flows to Winchester center. Now heading to Old Foley Beach. At one time it was possible to walk over the dam, now one can look at it through a high chain link fence. The fence completely surrounds the dam including adjacent overflow area. 

William J Scalley Dam memorial

Old Foley Beach

The next point of interest is Old Foley Beach. About all that remains of a former public beach from are a few stone and concrete steps. We now continue to Lynch Park.

Lynch Park

Lynch Park has added some memorials since my last visit. The water level has increased and vegetation is taking over the once sandy beach used for swimming. It is now a good place for fishing.

Thousand Yard Interplanetary Walk

We now head toward Thousand Yard Interplanetary Walk. I have a couple pictures of the stone markers on this walk. I either missed the others or they are no longer there. Our next point of interest is Hudson Grove.

Hudson Grove

The path goes through the Hudson Grove area with large trees between the path and the shoreline, the other side of the path is a large flat field surrounded by some trees. I have often seen young children with their parents in this area.   Our next area is the smaller boat launch to a small parking lot.

Smaller Boat Launch

This launch is at the junction of Beacon and Sturgis Street. A small parking lot is next to the boat launch. This parking lot when full has about 10 cars. There is also parking along Sturgis Street. Our path now leads to Ice House Park

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Ice House Park

Ice House Park was once the home of an ice producing plant, storage facility, and home heating oil depot. It is now a field of grass with a few scattered trees. The trees and grass have completely overgrown the history of the past. This is a favorite place for the geese when not in the water.  They tend to leave scat also in this area. As we continue our walk following the shoreline there is a Kiosk and a pet waste station. The path splits, we take the left and walk over the causeway. The causeway is a man-made road that separates Horn Pond from the lagoon. At the end of the causeway the path branches. This is a favorite for bird watchers to view the many varieties of birds. We take the left branch to Lions Park.

Lions Park

Lions Park was a former paved parking lot named for and maintained by the Woburn Lions club. There is a bronze statue of a lion in this area along with a gazebo and a few memorials. As we continue we take a left and head toward the Winitihooloo statue. I did not see the statue on this visit

As we progress, along the walkway the path branches left to Strawberry Point at the tip of the peninsula. Strawberry Point is a good spot to view the tiny island. We continue on the main path till there is a junction and take a left at the electric substation and head back into the main parking lot.

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North of the Causeway

Returning to the point where we walked over the causeway, we will now go north of the causeway on the trail to the right of the lagoon. This area is less frequented and we are more likely to see birds which are the predominant wildlife of the reservation. The trail is narrower than the previous trail. There is a bridge at the northern end of the lagoon. There is where something that resembles a stream feeds water into the lagoon. As we head north there are several wooden bridges for crossing wet areas. These are good places to view wildlife like fish, turtles, and birds. Walking north there is Cattail Marsh on the right, a sand pit, and marsh on left. Going right after the bridge at the northern end of the lagoon leads to the other side of Cattail Marsh and the Community Gardens.

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Cattail Marsh and Community Gardens

The community gardens consist of a large field and a small building to store gardening tools. I returned to the path on the other side of the cattail marsh. I was lucky today and saw the female swan sitting on her nest. I was also able to see a large glacial rock on the left side of the trail. This rock is visible from several places on the trail depending on the season of the year. At the northern tip of the Cattail Marsh, the main train continues north and a path leading to the right lead back to a small parking lot used by the users of the community gardeners and walkers. There is a farm on the left side of the trail that leads to the gardens. I returned to the main path and headed north. A few more small bridges to pass over small streams that feed this area. At the northern end, there is a small wooden bridge that leads out of the area. I continued my walk circling the glacial rock which is less visible on this side of the marsh.

After the marsh, the trail comes to a T. Going right exits the reservation over a wooden bridge. Going right takes us to the George W Olson path. This trail passes through open woodlands and a different view of the glacial boulder. From this point on there are many side trails. The boundary on the right or west side is the Woburn Country Club.  On a hot day, this is a good spot to go and cool down where on hot days it is a few degrees cooler. A heavy coat of pine needles covers the ground which feels soft on the feet. A trail to the right passes through this Pine Grove that leads to a bog. This is a small wet area covered with bright green moss. The area between the lake and the Woburn Country Club is a mixture of a rocky hillside and many small crisscrossing paths.

Red Maple Swamp

Shortly after the Pine Grove is Red Maple Swamp. The interactive map shows a picture. This is also where the Lagoon starts to form. There is also another trail that follows the golf club boundary and unites with the main path at the Lions Park. As we head south the Lagoon is on our right and this is another good place to view birds. Our tour ends as we get back to the causeway.

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Mt Towanda

From the main parking lot, we take the path between the water works and the electric substation and follow left as we pass the substation. At this point, the walking is all uphill till reaching the summit of Mt Towanda. Shortly after passing the substation there is a branch off the paved road leading to the right marked Nolan Trail, going straight leads out of the reservation to Lake Ave. The Nolan Trail to the summit gets steeper. Soon the Nolan Trail bends to the right. At the bend, there is an unmarked trail that goes straight which we will take. This is a single lane path through the woods. The trail is straight in the beginning at some point the trail passes the ski jump.

Since the trail is not used a lot the trail gets harder to distinguish. There are a couple of abandoned foundations not shown on the interactive map. The trail bends to the right and begins ascending. It gets steep toward the end. This is where there are a few different ways to reach the summit. This is the easier but longer way to the top. The abandoned reservoir should be visible. The summit covers a large almost flat area and only a few trees to obstruct views in all directions. The northern and eastern side of the summit are almost all rocky ledge. The ledge falls almost straight down on the east and not as steep on the north. It is a lot harder to climb down than climb up as there is a combination of steepness and scree to deal with. A challenging path at most hiking levels. Some of the high voltage lines pass over the mountain in this area. Within eyesight and to the south of the reservoir is a large rock with a lot of graffiti this is most likely lunch rock and you are now almost at the highest point. A park bench dedicated to Nolan Webster is in this area. For those interested in finding the Native American bowl this is a good starting point. Returning by Nolan Trail is easier on the cardio but is steep enough for caution.

Indian Bowl

Finding this Indian bowl can be a challenge when there are a lot of leaves on the ground as in the fall. I would head west from lunch rock to find the bowl. A fallen tree serves as a landmark but in time will rot and disappear. Making finding the Indian Bowl more difficult. Just before I found the bowl I was on the verge of giving up but decided to go just a little further. It was then I saw the partly leaf covered bowl.

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Boating and Fishing

Although called a pond but I see it more as a miniaturized lake. It has an island. There are 2 boat launches on Horn Pond, one located in the main parking lot opposite the restrooms. The other is on Sturgis Street which is not marked on the map. By clicking the other boat launch located near the icon of a man fishing in a boat we learn that Sturgis is the name of the street for the other boat launch. Click on the fish and you will learn about fishing in Horn Pond. In the early 80’s I took a sailing class on Horn Pond. I was able to learn all the basics of sailing in a 1-2 person sail boat. I also tried kayaks in the 90’s. I found it a great place to learn basic skills without the fear of danger.

Wildlife

The bird population has a good variety with about 44 species represented. Other wildlife represented include fish, frogs, insects, rabbits, squirrels, and turtles.

Horn Pond Island

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At one time Horn Pond Island was large enough for a bowling alley to be inside a building. Click island on the map for details. The water level is higher than it was then and it takes on several shapes as seen in these pictures.(pic to be added)

Social Media

Facebook: Horn Pond
Facebook has a lot of pictures and more added all the time.

W.R.E.N.

W.R.E.N. is is the volunteer organization that keeps the reservation beautiful.

Summary

The Horn pond reservation there to evolve as time passes.  A one time there were only a few benches to sit, now they seem to be everywhere.  On my last visit I noticed a small group of Boy Scouts constructing a small building near the Maple Grove.  I hope you enjoyed you trip in the Horn Pond Reservation.