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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

A New Trail at Stony Brook

A pond view from Stony Brook’s new trail, Salamander Way.

By Marjorie Turner Hollman 

Visitors to Mass Audubon’s Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Norfolk know they can count on amazing views. Venturing out onto the boardwalk quite near the visitor’s center, visitors can count on seeing turtles, herons, ducks, and other wildlife. Fewer people realize that just across the street from the parking area, additional paths, also part of Stony Brook, are open to the public for exploration. While the paths on this less traveled section of the Audubon property are less crowded, they have their own beauty.

Trail work in the area across North Street from the main entrance has created an additional footpath. The newest addition to Stony Brook’s trail network, Salamander Way, was constructed by Mass Audubon’s Metro South property staff, with the assistance of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps groups. 

For walkers who want to visit this new trail, they will encounter two short loop trails as they head into the area off North Street. Visitors have options for turning their time outdoors into a short or longer walk. The original path circles the pond, offering views from the highest elevation of the sanctuary looking down to water level. A new footbridge allows visitors to easily cross over the outlet to the pond and circle the entire body of water. 

The newest path, Salamander Way, has increased access to the area’s vernal pools. These pools, unique to wetlands, provide essential habitat for various amphibians including salamanders (thus the name of the newly blazed trail), wood frogs, and spring peepers. The afternoon of our visit we heard peepers, their distinctive calls echoing off the still bare trees. Despite the lack of green, it was a reminder as we approached the woodland pools of water that spring is here (well, it’s coming!).A slightly altered trail winds its way to the top of the esker, making the climb up the hill less prone to erosion and easier to maintain in the future. Upon climbing to the top of the esker, visitors can head back down the far side of it as they follow Salamander Way, an out and back trail that ends at Marshall Street.  

The nature of eskers, besides their geological significance, is that they offer a vantage point from above the surrounding area. In fact, the views in this area are impressive. Eskers are long, winding ridges, created as retreating glaciers dumped a mix of sand and gravel. Glaciers once covered and later scoured the ground we walk on. 

This local wildlife sanctuary has nurtured the love of nature for generations of young people in this area. What has been a jewel for many of us has just gotten better. Choose the lower elevations and the boardwalk for a view of the wildlife that is drawn to Stony Brook. Cross