Quest for Cotton Pond Trail

By Erik Boyer, Property Manager

About a year and a half ago while running errands after work, a cashier saw my Wildlands Trust logo and started talking about a preserve that he used to love hiking at when he lived on Ship Pond Rd.  He described a walk that consisted of some hilly topography and that concluded at a little kettle pond.  He hadn’t been there since moving to the Cape a couple of years earlier, but asked me how that property was looking currently. 

At that point I had only worked with Wildlands for a couple of months and had yet to visit many of our properties.  However, the passion and detail with which he described the property led me to pin down the Emery East Preserve, the smaller of our two Emery Preserves and one of the Trust’s first pieces of conservation land. 

I spent the next day bushwhacking through a thicket of huckleberry and green briar to eventually make my way to Cotton Pond, a beautiful little kettle pond at the end of the overgrown trail. Two other features stood out: a very distinctive steep hill about half way through the hike – the type of hill that, during my days of running cross country, would have been honored a name, and an old sand pit that had become the dumping grounds for an assortment of old debris ranging from old computers, bed frames, and piles of misshapen scrap metal.  I flagged out the old trail route and then didn’t visit the property for a while.

That is, until this past summer of 2016. On the hottest, most humid week of August, a group from the Sierra Club arrived at Wildlands Trust for a working vacation. This presented the perfect opportunity to reestablish the trail at Emery East Preserve. During this week, twenty plus volunteers re-blazed the old footpath, added more colorful trail markers, and removed a large portion of the debris that existed on site. To conclude this week of hard work, the trail was officially re-opened, reaching all the way from Ship Pond Rd. to Cotton Pond.

 Sierra Club volunteers blaze a trail in the hot August heat!

Sierra Club volunteers blaze a trail in the hot August heat!

However, the work wasn’t quite finished. We spent two Trailblazer Saturdays, one in September and one in December, with dedicated volunteers helping to install natural steps and a rope hand rail on the steep portion of the hill. Now hikers will be aided by foot and hand holds on the return trip from the pond, as well as by a bench built by the Sierra Club work group awaiting at the peak of the hill.

 September Trailblazers put in natural stairs on the steep hill. 

September Trailblazers put in natural stairs on the steep hill. 

 December Trailblazers get the job finished!

December Trailblazers get the job finished!

Round trip the trail is about 1.25 miles in length, but the steep hill makes one feel as though they’ve walked about 4 miles on level grade.  Overall our Cotton Pond Trail at Emery East Preserve offers a more challenging walk then some of our other trails in Plymouth and it could not have been done without the help of the volunteers from Sierra Club and our Trailblazer team!

To hike the Cotton Pond Trail, park at the small trail head on the north side of Ship Pond Rd., east of Secretariat Drive. Trail map available here.