After our ramble at the Head of Tide Preserve, we decided to complete our outing at the Stover Preserve, just across the street. This walk would add another 1.5 mile loop to our adventures, but it was a fine day and we needed the exercise.
As we entered the dirt road that led to the parking area, we discovered stones placed across the entrance to the parking area. A sign nearby indicated that the parking area was closed due to vandalism. I seem to have this naïve view that when we are closer to nature these types of things won’t happen. How sad, to find that even here such acts do occur. The blockade was far enough back that there was still room for 3 or 4 cars to park near the street, allowing visitors to still enjoy the preserve.
The start of the trail from the parking area was somewhat overgrown but it soon opened up as we progressed into the woods. Although I found similar vegetation to Head of Tide, I was also surprised that two adjacent preserves could be so different. I saw some ferns, but not in the same quantities as across the street. Orange hawkweeds and yellow dandelion type flowers, possibly Fall Dandelions were here as well. What I did find in greater numbers at the Stover Preserve was Meadow Rue, with its unique cluster of white flowers and leaves that resemble dinosaur feet.
We continued our journey across a flat stone and up some wood steps into a part of the forest that was not thriving. As we looked around, we noticed that most of the trees (pines of some sort) were all dead and wondered if it was the result of extreme weather, insect invasions or just end of lifespan. Whatever the cause, it was a bit depressing to gaze upon the white, skeletal remains of these once majestic trees.
Leaving this area behind, the trail soon curved along the ridge overlooking the Passagassawakeag River. Here, the pine-needle covered path meandered through a strand of Hemlock trees. Turning away from the river, we continued our uphill journey. Soon we crossed a recently repaired bridge. Standing on the bridge, I noticed an abundance of a rather large leafed, heavily veined plant; almost reminiscent of False Solomon Seal but I don’t think it was that.
As we moved away from the wetlands and entered dry woods once more, I noticed another large leafed plant in the middle of the path. As with the large leafed plant in the wet area, I could not identify this plant either but I found its large leaves intriguing. Shortly after this discovery, the path turned back towards the unused parking lot. Two hikes in one day. It had been a pleasant, productive day.