Walking the Dog

Suburban Walks > Esker Walk

Narrative

The esker walk (see "Esker Trail" photo below) is fun any time of the year. You can see the site of the old pencil mill site. Eskers are fun because they offer good views. There are glacial erratics. There are high, dry places and low, wet places. There are beaver dams at Hutchin's pond, near the esker, and along Mink Pond.

However, I have my seasonal preferences. The best time for an esker walk is just after the first frost in October on through mid-December. The woods are not crowded then. Afternoons are still warm. It's easy to find a parking place. The deer ticks are gone. Since many of the leaves are gone, the views are good. The streams are low and the stream crossings are easy. There are beautiful patterns formed by the fallen leaves.

From mid-December through the end of February, temperatures can be brutal, especially on morning walks. Holding a GPS unit with your arm extended teaches you how to select gloves and how to hold the GPS unit when wearing heavy gloves. Since it is cold, you have to be ready to give the dog more treats so that she can stay warm. However, once the snow falls and remelts, there are no tree roots or small rocks to worry about. Eventually, the trails turn in to long ribbons of ice. That is when you can use your ice creepers and really enjoy your walk. If you are lucky, you will get to see ice patterns like the one shown below at "Near the Mill Pond on November 25th".

Early Spring is the season of challenges. The beavers succeed in raising the level of Hutchin's pond. The trail along the eastern shore of the pond can be very wet. The sawmill brook becomes a torrent. In fact, rushing water seems to be found in every low spot traversed by a stream.

Summer is fun because there are so many people to talk to and so many dogs to meet. The air is warm. There are plants to identify. Walks are quick and you don't need to wear heavy clothes.

I mentioned eskers. What are they? An esker is a ridge formed by glacial meltwater (carrying clay, sand, gravel, and larger rocks) passing through a meltwater channel. Where eskers are formed, the speed of the water is fast enough to keep the clay and sand suspended and, thus, carried beyond the meltwater channel. The speed of the water is not great enough to carry stones or boulders. So, the water can carry the gravel into the meltwater channel, but then deposit it. The size of the gravel is determined by the speed of the water flowing through the meltwater channel. By my estimate, the eskers in Estabrook Woods can be as high as 30 feet.

What is a glacial erratic? When glaciers cover an area, they can pluck boulders from their source and carry them along with the ice flow. When the ice melts, these boulders can be dropped in an area where the minerals in the bedrock are not at all like the minerals in the boulder. The boulders are called erratics because they are not of the same composition as the underlying bedrock where they are found.

Photos

(Click on the pictures to see enlarged images.)

Near the Mill Pond on November 25th Mill Pond

Esker Trail Stone Wall Near the Eskers Mink Pond from an Esker

Maps

Esker Map

On the Esker Map (above), you would start your walk at 873 Monument Street, up the left (west) side of Hutchin's Pond and onward to the junction with the Saw Mill trail on your left. Once you have crossed the brook that is the outlet of Mill Pond, you will be facing the end of an esker. Proceed up the esker and turn right at the trail junction. Continue along the esker, looking for views of Mink Pond on your left. Assuming that you want to make a loop, turn right at the trail junction. You will pass some large boulders that are 10 to 20 feet long. When you reach the next trail junction, turn right and continue straight out to Monument Street.

Esker Track and Waypoint Map

On the Esker Track and Waypoint Map (above), you would also start your walk at 873 Monument Street; waypoint P01. You would continue to waypoints P02, E43, E44, and E45. Turn left at waypoint E52. You will come to the Mill Pond. Continue on up the esker. Turn right at waypoint E56. At waypoint EX MP Outlet, you will see the Mink Pond outlet culvert that determines the maximum level of the pond. Continue on to waypoing E55 Tee; you will be near the Lime Kiln. Turn right and continue to waypoint E54JL Rock. Turn right and continue on to waypoints E52, E51, E44, E43, P02, and P01.

GPS Data

A gpx file for my Estabrook Woods walks can be uploaded to a GPS unit. This file includes all of the tracks for Estabrook Woods as well as all of my waypoints for hikes in the Sudbury vicinity. Since my browser opened the gpx file and displayed it as text, I have "zipped" the gpx file. You will need to save the zipped file to your hard drive, unzip it, and then load it onto your GPS unit.