Bowers Springs meets all the pups’ top criteria: a pond for swimming, a wooded trail loop for exploring, fields for frolicking and friends to frolic with.
You might easily drive by Flanagan Rd in Bolton, MA, but when you find it, drive to the end and you’ll find the well-marked parking area for Bowers Springs on your left. Here you’ll find a kiosk with trail map, local announcements and a garbage pail. You can also access the trails from a small parking area and trail-head on Bolton Rd and two trail-heads on Bare Hill Rd, but I recommend starting from the main parking area.
Bolton Conservation trail map of Bowers Springs here (jpeg).
Harvard Conservation trail map of Bowers Springs here (pdf).
If you’ve come for some pup-swimming (sorry, no people swimming here), then head past the signs and straight down the dirt road flanked by a row of regal tall pine trees. Follow the trail down the hill and you can explore the trails around and between 2 ponds. It’s on the far side of the 2nd pond where you’ll find a nice, sandy beach perfect for tossing a ball or stick for your eager pup. It’s not unusual to see some folks fishing around the pond, nor is it unusual to see a large group of people on horseback pass through (I think there are stables in the area where you can hire a horse).
If you’ve come for a hike, stay right on the trail from the parking area, following the trail as it hugs the right edge of the large field. Keep right and soon you’ll come to a trail entrance into the woods marked by a sign with a small trail map. If you keep going a little farther, you’ll find the other end of the trail loop, also marked by a trail map. It is a fairly level trail, but if you prefer a slight uphill hike, take the 2nd entrance.
Taking the trail loop from the 1st entrance: as you enter the woods, look to your right. An old truck! I don’t know why it’s here – maybe someone can tell us its tale?
Taking the trail loop from the 2nd entrance: the start of the trail here tends to be pretty wet and muddy. You might have to do some creative stone-stepping. You will only have to do this for about 15-20 feet and then the trail will be dry.
The trail loop is about 1.9 miles in total. There is one cross-trail that goes along a creek which you can take to avoid the open field which in late summer can get over-run with poison ivy. In early summer, the field is ablaze with beautiful wild flowers. Heck, I didn’t even notice the poison ivy until I took my mother with me one day and she pointed it out – it’s everywhere! I consider myself lucky that I didn’t react to it but Mom explains that she too didn’t react to poison ivy until later in life. One of the joys of getting older?
In general the trail is easy to identify and follow. There are painted blazes on the trees but it may get confusing at a point where a side trail exits and possibly an old trail section existed.
When you return to the field, you want to head across the field to reach the ponds. To your right will be another intriguing path into the woods, but this will lead you out to Bare Hill Rd. It’s worth venturing as it has neat raised platforms among the wetlands, just know that you’ll need to turn around at some point.
Hopefully at this point you’ve met some other hikers and their pups as you head to the beach for the pups to take a much deserved dip in the pond. Then loop around the backside of the pond and take a stroll up the pretty tree lined dirt road back to your car.
This trail is one of our go-to spots, in the regular rotation of favorite area trails – maybe we’ll see you there?