Posted by: norstarnewengland | December 4, 2009

Place: Ponkapoag Pond Area, Canton, MA

I’ve been meaning to get to the bog at Ponkapoag Pond for over a year, now. On a rather cool day in October, we walked in via the Ponkapoag Golf Course, which has a paved road that goes to the pathway around the pond. Before I went on the path, I decided to go to the entrance from Washington Street to take pictures of the sign, including the one for cross country skiing that looked like the skier was about to take a spill. As I was taking pictures, someone behind me asked, “What are you doing?” I turned around to find an employee of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which is in charge of the golf course and the Blue Hills Reservation that includes the pond. Well I explained my interest in the sign, but not waymarking, since – even after my explanation – this person seemed dumbfounded that I would be interested in the sign and regarded me with high suspicion (what did this person think I was up to – kidnapping cross country skiing signs then hold them for ransom?).

Signs along Washington Street Including Cross-Country Skiing Sign

Is that a cross country ski trailhead sign or an inept cross country skiier warning sign?


Leaving the parking lot, we walked down Maple Avenue, which, though not a driveable road, it was aptly named since it lined on both sides by massive maples. This took us through the course and to the pond. At the junction with the path, I noticed that the area had been cleared away and the reason was due to the building of the new Ponkapoag Pond Dam. Before, the earthen dam was barely a raised causeway that had trees and brush growing on it and an outlet with boards to control the level. This upgraded dam has gates and an overflow spillway, and large bolders to control erosion and prevent growth.

We turned back the other way and went right to head for the bog trail. We followed the path through one of the golf links (where we had to wait for the golfers to play through), then through pine covered woods to the junction of the path through to the Ponkapoag Bog Trail. Polaris, after seeing some children come back on the path with wet shoes, valued ‘dryness’ over ‘adventure’ and decided not to go. I accepted the challenge. One thing about this path is – likely, your feet will be wet. Though much of the path is on ‘firm enough’ ground, there are large stretches where the path is on flattened timbers that are chained loosely in place – so they don’t float away. This means that these logs float most of the time, so walking along them is tricky, and, even if you don’t slip off them, they will submerge when you apply weight on one end. There are times when the path is simply impassible. This day was one of the better days – but I still got wet. But it is a worthwhile trip as you feel like you are in the center of the pond, with open water in one direction, and a vast ecosystem with moss, cedars, pitcher plants and cranberry plants in another.

After that, we returned to the car and drove up to the Blue Hills Reservation Headquarters on the other side of the highway and walked along the Skyline Trail to take in nice vistas, including views of Ponkapoag Pond. The sky was mostly cloudy, so the autumn colors on the hills were muted.

After that, it was time to go home and do more mundane things like mow the lawn – which can be marshy itself, but at that time was dry.

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