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DISCOVER: Wayne F. MacCallum Wildlife Management Area

photo: Nancy Wright

by Nancy Szostak Wright

After living in Westborough for over 26 years, I just recently discovered the Wayne F. MacCallum Wildlife Management Area, entering from the Route 135 (Milk Street) entrance. This area was formerly known as the "Westborough Wildlife Management Area,” and locals sometimes refer to it as just "Fish & Wildlife."

My first visit there was close to sunset (September 2020). It was a short visit, so I spent most of my time at the first pond and then a bit further along the path, on the road to the right. Lots of pokeweed kept me intrigued, as I marveled at its purple stems. I was quite fortunate to see a Green Heron, Eastern Phoebe, Red-tailed Hawk, Downy Woodpecker, Goldfinches, lots of Bluebirds, and a pair of Wood Ducks (a lifer for me!). Not to mention the fabulous flowers. I even got a nice abstract image of the grass.

Another visit (early October 2020) was around 4 pm and there was a lot of bird activity. I spent about an hour exploring with my 21 y/o daughter and my husband. What an adventure! As we passed fields of corn and squash that had us curious, we made our way to the pond in the back area. I lagged behind a bit to grab shots of a juvenal Cedar Waxwing and its parent, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a Palm Warbler, a Great Blue Heron, Bluebirds, and a gorgeous Monarch Butterfly. I highly recommend this area at any time of year for anyone wishing to explore nature and wildlife. It has wide paths that make social distancing easier, though we wore our masks any time we encountered people.

Note: During the busy fall deer and pheasant hunting seasons (mid-October through December), it’s best to visit on a Sunday (when by law there's no hunting). 

Nancy Szostak Wright, a WCLT education committee member since 2018, has enjoyed the trails of Westborough since moving here in 1994. Owner of wrightpix photo gifts, Nancy spends a lot of time behind the camera taking photos of nature and wildlife. Her most exciting find in Westborough was a barred owl in 2019.

MACCALLUM WALK DESCRIPTIONS

Pond walk (Nancy’s walk - red): From the Rt. 135 parking area, walk past the first pond on your right and go straight up the hill to the second pond, and return by the same route. One option is to walk around the second pond, part of the way on a narrow path.  Another option, from the second pond, is to continue around the field loop (below).

Field loop (a popular walk - green): Start either from the Rt. 135 parking area or the Fish & Wildlife Headquarters parking area, and walk in either direction along the loop encircling the fields. The Fish & Wildlife HQ is the highest point and offers a splendid view out over the fields. The loop includes fields, deciduous woods, coniferous woods, and one pond.

TRAIL DETAILS

The MacCallum Wildlife Management Area (MacCallum WMA) covers a large area (906 acres) of woodlands and fields in Westborough and Northborough, between Milk Street (Rt. 135) on the west and Lyman Street on the east.

Location & parking: To access the trails discussed here, use one of the two entrances off Milk Street/Rt. 135 (on the right as you drive north from the center of Westborough):

  • Mass Fish & Wildlife Headquarters entrance, at 1 Rabbit Hill Rd. (take North Drive off Rt. 135), with a paved parking area; OR 
  • Route 135 entrance, a short unpaved road on the east (right) side of Rt. 135 shortly before the Northborough line, with an unpaved parking area.

Trail map (to print or download)


Length of the pond walk (Nancy’s walk): about a one-mile roundtrip from the Rt. 135 parking area (walking past the first pond and uphill to second pond and then back again).

Length of the field loop: about a one-mile loop around the field area, starting from the top of the hill at the Fish & Wildlife HQ; slightly longer starting from Rt. 135 parking area.

Terrain: Flat stretches and a large hill, on unpaved old farm roads, wide and grassy with somewhat uneven footing. Off these old roads are various uneven one-track paths through fields or woods, including a short loop around the upper pond. Some areas are muddy in late winter/spring.

When to visit: The MacCallum WMA is a great place in all four seasons. In fall, it’s advisable to visit on Sundays – when there is no hunting in Massachusetts – during the deer and pheasant hunting seasons, approximately from mid-October through the end of the year.  (See 
https://www.mass.gov/doc/2021-hunting-season-summary/download)

Trail map (to print or download): http://westboroughcharm.org/guide/maps/map_FishWildlife.pdf

More On the Lyman Street side of the MacCallum WMA, you can access other trails, as well as walks around Lake Chauncy, from entrances off Lyman Street and Chauncy Street.

The Charm Bracelet trail (Westborough’s 28-mile trail loop around the town) passes through the MacCallum WMA, as shown on the map, between the Fish & Wildlife HQ and Lake Chauncy and beyond.

NOTEWORTHY

Hunting is allowed year-round at the MacCallum WMA, except on Sundays, when, by law, there is no hunting in Massachusetts. During the busy fall deer and pheasant hunting seasons (mid-October through year’s end), it’s best to choose a Sunday to visit the area.

Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash (unless they are actively engaged in hunting or hunt training), and owners must pick up after their dogs within 100 feet of parking areas.

Mountain biking is allowed.

Birds, beaver, and other wildlife are active around the two ponds. Stand quietly at the ponds to watch for these animals. 

Some fields are leased to local farmers who grow corn and squash in them. This farming helps to preserve the kinds of field and agricultural environments that have become scarce in Massachusetts.

Notice bee hives (which look like colorful cabinets) near the farm fields. Watch honeybees coming and going, sometimes even on warm winter days.

View beautiful sunsets at the MacCallum WMA. Look from the hill on the farm road between the two ponds. 

Hear and "see" American woodcocks courting at dusk in March-April at the edges of fields along the pond walk route. 

Hear spring peepers calling in late March/April and American toads calling in late April.

A large orchard of young chestnut trees and seedlings on the property is part of an ongoing effort by the American Chestnut Foundation and other organizations to breed blight-resistant American chestnut trees. 

The Assabet River originates in Westborough (within the Headwaters Conservation Area) and passes through the MacCallum WMA.

First established by the state in 1955 with 429 acres, the MacCallum WMA has since been enlarged to its current 906 acres.  This state property is under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Click the links below to read previous editions of WCLT’s
“Try A Trail Close to Home”

Try a Trail: Mill Pond School to Osprey Point
Try a Trail: John Malley Trail
Try a Trail: Osprey Point
Try a Trail: Gilmore Pond
Try a Trail: Sandra Pond
To download all the Charm Bracelet Trail Maps click here


WCLT members and friends: Tell us about your own favorite trail in town!  E-mail us about it (300 words or less) at: favorite-trail@westboroughlandtrust.org.

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