Tucker Preserve - Pembroke, MA.
Sidney Tucker and Harold M. Tucker, 1993
The Tucker Preserve on the Indian Head River, a tributary of the North River, can be enjoyed on foot or by canoe. Protected land on both sides of the river ensures the canoeist or kayaker a scenic trip. Near the west side of the preserve, the river quickly winds through a hemlock grove before it slows and widens downstream, where deep red cardinal flowers and basking turtles may be seen.
You’ll find natural and historic riches here. Walk through the field along the river and into the woods to the trail head. The preserve land was formerly owned by the Clapp Rubber Company, which had its mills at the present site of the town park. Follow the trail through the woods of hickory, ash, elm, and other hardwoods. Giant trees tower over an open understory of shrubs and herbs. The cracked and furrowed bark of several red oaks and black birch signify their great age.
The trail moves away from the river toward the west side of the preserve as the slope drops steeply to the riverbed. The cool, moist, north-facing slopes, shaded by hemlocks, encourage vegetation reminiscent of northern or western parts of the state. Several rivulets, lush with sedges, wild geranium, and very large jack-in-the-pulpit, course through the property. Lady’s-slippers are abundant in the drier oak-pine woods, and you may see the checkered leaves of rattlesnake plantain (an evergreen orchid). Old stone walls reflect earlier uses of this land for farming and pasture. Deep-woods birds now make their home here. Look for ovenbird, cuckoo, veery and scarlet tanager, or listen for the sweet arpeggios of the wood thrush. Near the preserve’s back boundary, the river runs through a gorge and an old dam site more reminiscent of New Hampshire than Massachusetts.
Note: While boat access to the river is limited at the preserve, there is a boat ramp nearby with ample parking. Continue North of West Elm Street, crossing over the river. Take first right onto Indian Head Drive. Continue to boat ramp at end of road.