For all intents and purposes, Robert McCloskey’s book “Blueberries for Sal,” about a curious young girl finding her way to a blueberry patch, could have taken place in Cape Ann.
While the seaside community is not well-known for its ability to bear wild fruit like McCloskey’s Maine, one of Rockport’s best kept secrets are the bushes upon bushes of wild blueberries hidden in the protected wilderness of Woodland Acres.
Nestled between Gloucester’s Lanesville and Rockport’s Pigeon Cove, the 47 acres of Greenbelt conservation land has a loop trail that takes curious creatures — both human and canine — through a forest of pitch pines, vernal pools, and blueberry patches.
According to Greenbelt, permits had been granted in the mid-1990s to allow 75 homes to be constructed on Woodland Acres.
While the development never happened, map programs still show the proposed Juniper and Briarwood roads, now undriveable trails, that are — as of 2017 — permanently protected, therefore protecting the bushes of berries from being uprooted.
Another book, another trail
If you think that there will only be one children’s book reference today, you are terribly mistaken.
In addition to the tiny edible gems found along the side of the Woodland Acres trails, a little engine that once could is memorialized through a neighboring path.
While all that remains is a dirt path, the trail used to house railroad tracks that transported granite from nearby quarries to Pigeon Cove Wharf in Rockport. From the wharf, the massive blocks would be loaded on to vessels and shipped off by sea.
The booming success in granite quarrying may have dwindled in Cape Ann, but what remains in this quiet oasis known as the Bay State Rail Trail is a reminder that change can be a beautiful thing.
As of the first few days of November, the trail is covered with leaves and little streams of chilled water trickling over rocks and roots.
Sounds to listen for: babbling brooks, rustling leaves.
When entering the town-owned trail from Curtis Road, ambitious explorers will first be greeted by Pine Pit — an old quarry that attracts artists from all over to capture its serene waters and towering granite cliffs.
When entering the conserved land from Pine Pit, the town property available for public use is limited to the path marked by trail markers. Note that the land to the left and right is private.
While there are no bears in these woods and my name is most certainly not Sal, I will definitely be coming back to these trails next summer to munch on some berries.
Patience is a virtue, my mother keeps telling me.
Want to suggest your favorite trail for review? Or, Don’t want others flooding the woods you love? Let staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford know. While carrier pigeon is her preferred mode of communication, she can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Pine Pit & Woodland Acres
Trailhead(s): With a generous amount of parking, trailheads for Woodland Acres can be found on both Hillside and Woodland roads. Pine Pit can be accessed by traveling down Curtis Road in Rockport.
Activities: Photography, birding, dog walking, hiking, horseback riding, nature study, snowshoeing, trail running, and mountain biking.
Distance: 47 acres
COVID-19 status: Open
Level of difficulty: Medium