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Noanet Woodlands a messy joy in winter

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By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter

The Noanet Woodlands are a bit of a muddy mess during a brief winter thaw. If you’ve ever been a child - most of us have - you’ll know there’s nothing a kid likes more than a tromping through the mud. So don’t let the prospect of a mess stop you - lace up some boots and head over to Noanet Woodlands and embrace an afternoon of stomping around through the slop.

This Trustees park covers nearly 600 acres of woods, interwoven with 17 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, if that’s what you drove over in.

The frozen cascades of the old mill dam.

The frozen cascades of the old mill dam.

The woods are thick from the outset. Straight off from the parking lot, the path heads off into the trees, forking here and there, winding left and right, and rising and falling with the hills. Be sure to bring the bread crumbs or take a photo of the map, because as you go deeper down the path, the number of turns you’ve taken and will have to remember multiplies with every mile.

There’s a special privacy about Noanet. Though the paths you walk are narrow, the woods surrounding you spread out with a vastness that you can feel on your shoulders. From the trees towering above, to the valley ridges that roll away to frozen white ponds, there’s a hugeness at Noanet that dwarves any fellow humans you may come across along the way. No matter how many people may be in the park at any given moment, you feel as if you’re the only person on Earth.

Bear tromps through the trees with glee.

Bear tromps through the trees with glee.

There are countless trails to follow within Noanet, but two destinations worth seeking out are the Dover Union Iron Mill Site and Noanet Peak. The Iron Mill Site takes you to an old dam and the foundations of a water powered mill that once operated on the grounds. In the winter, the water crashes over the dam while a sheet of ice climb up its stone face. The hike up to Noanet Peak will raise you above the tree tops, revealing a Boston skyline that that emerges from the tree line like the ruins of a lost city in a New England jungle.

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