Rich and I enjoyed our time at the peaceful Tannery Tract of the Varden Conservation Area last fall, and we decided to come back and check out the Mid-Valley Tract today with Dad.
This area, consisting of over 400 acres, was donated by Dr. Mead Shaffer in 2001 for the purposes of conservation and recreation in part of the state that is seeing more pressure from development. Taken together, the two tracts contain over 7 miles of trails, mostly through conifer forests, two ponds, and several historic buildings and stone walls. For more, see: Varden Conservation Area
From the parking area on Mid Valley Road, we followed the western branch of the Bear Paw Trail through a conifer forest planted by Dr. Shaffer. Then we took the Overlook Ridge Trail at the southwestern edge of the tract. This trail, the longest in the conservation area, offers a variety of trees including hemlock, white pine, and ash—it’s a “cool” trail in both senses of the word!
Getting closer to the pond, we made a right turn onto Shaffer’s Way, traveled through another conifer forest, and eventually emerged at Homestead Pond. In the summer, the western edge is covered with lilypads, dotted with white water lilies! We spent some time relaxing here, and I talked with Dad while Rich enjoyed poking around and taking photos.
Then we looped around the pond and made our way back to the Overlook Ridge Trail via the Pond View Trail. This time we followed the northernmost part of the Overlook Ridge Trail loop (the part we hadn’t done before) and finished by hiking the eastern branch of the Bear Paw Trail.