Location: East Acton on Concord boundary, off Pope Road
Terrain/Trail Conditions: Gently rolling; fairly even footing; trail may be wet in low spots
Main trail: 0.4 mile
- Northeastern corner of Stoneymeade Way, off Pope Road (Parking on street; Kiosk along trail)
- From Concord’s Annursnac Conservation Land, off Strawberry Hill Road, Concord
Stoneymeade Conservation Land, abutting conservation land in the town of Concord, preserves one of the two largest remaining open fields in Acton, but it also includes a small stream, a vernal pool, stone walls, and bordering woods. The field is kept open by mowing late each fall to prevent forest succession from occurring. The vista from the field encompasses a small pond edged with bigtooth aspens, the historic Stoneymeade Farm with paddocks and stone tower, a number of newer houses, and woodland on the far edge of the field. Much of this vista is in Concord, but the boundary between the two towns is seamless, enabling both towns to enjoy this tranquil open area.
A sign marks the main entrance into Stoneymeade Conservation Land from Stoneymeade Way. A short walk through the woods along a wide, level path leads to the open field that makes up most of the conservation land that is easily accessible to the public. The trail along this corridor is yellow-blazed, but the blazes end at the entrance to the field, except for one blaze on the large, centrally located oak tree surrounded by ledge in the grassy area. On the map, however, the trail is shown as yellow along its length.
At the oak tree, the trail branches. The northerly branch continues on to private property, where a sign marks the boundary of the conservation land. The southerly branch continues via a well-worn track through the field grasses to the boundary with Concord. The main trail, from the entrance and along the southerly branch, forms part of Acton’s segment of the Bay Circuit Trail. It connects directly with Concord’s Spencer Brook Trail through the abutting Annursnac Conservation Land to the south and, via Stoneymeade Way, Strawberry Hill Road, and Jay Lane, with Spring Hill Conservation Land to the north.
Horses with riders coming from and returning to the nearby Stoneymeade Farm use this north-to-south trail, which also forms part of “The Hunt.” Sponsored by the Old North Bridge Hounds, The Hunt (no longer involving foxes) takes place twice a year, in the spring and again in the fall, beginning at the horse farm and completing a local 6-mile circuit to Concord’s Estabrook Woods and back.
Stoneymeade Farm is a Revolutionary-era homestead built in the early 1700s. The Brooks family owned and operated it for three generations. Seth Brooks, who fought in the Battle of Lexington and Concord, in which Acton’s Captain Isaac Davis was killed, brought Davis’ body back to Acton. In 1885, the stone tower was built to store water. The original barn is a classic 19th-century barn, but Stoneymeade Farm now also includes the prominent modern yellow horse barn to the northwest. By the end of the 19th century, the buildings were used as a summer country estate.
This conservation land is home to many species of birds. Among those that have been observed raising their young here are scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, yellow warbler, red-eyed vireo, warbling vireo, gray catbird, song sparrow, eastern bluebird, tree swallow, and occasionally bobolink. Red-winged blackbirds nest beside the marshy margin of the pond. Chickadees, robins, and titmice make Stoneymeade their year-round home. The concerted efforts of the Acton Bluebird Recovery Program to encourage bluebirds to reestablish after years of decline resulted in the first successful nesting pair at Stoneymeade in 1999. Since then, bluebirds, as well as tree swallows, have successfully nested there each year.
The Bluebird Recovery Program also maintains nesting boxes in other Acton conservation lands meadows. The program monitors nesting boxes between April and August, checking boxes depending on the predation threats, and will advise landowners on appropriate placement and address other problems.