The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 4, 2008

Davis Corridor – designed to connect neighborhoods

Today, Carlisle residents can enjoy the results of a hardworking group of conservationists who, in the 1970s, had the forethought and skill to plan and execute the purchase of more than ten distinct parcels of land. Together, these parcels would become a conservation corridor, linking neighborhoods and existing trails and providing a permanent connection to the 672-acre Estabrook Woods. Anchored by the purchase by approximately 55 acres of land from John Davis, the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) led the process of purchasing an additional 71 acres between 1973 and 1979 to create the 126.4-acre Davis Corridor.

A long boardwalk, built by the Trails Committee in 2007, spans wet areas allowing year-round use of the Davis Trail. The Boy Scouts built a similar boardwalk on the Catbriar Trail in 2001. (Photo by Helen Lyons)

As it exists today, the Davis Corridor extends south from Bedford Road (between Red Pine Drive and Canterbury Court) to the Carlisle-Concord town border, where it joins Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology land (Estabrook Woods). The entrance on Bedford Road is about one mile east of the center of Carlisle, and several access points are available in the Nowell Farme/Prospect Street area. The Davis Corridor also abuts the Malcolm Land (see Mosquito, June 27, 2008) and is easily accessed from the historic trail known as Two Rod Road.

The trail connection, south through the Estabrook Woods to the Punkatasset Hill conservation land in Concord, allows an enjoyable hike from Bedford Road in Carlisle all the way to Monument Street in Concord. Near Punkatasset Hill, trails connect west to Concord’s Estabrook Road and to Lowell Road near Bateman’s Pond, as well as north to Carlisle’s Estabrook Road and Baldwin Road.

Today the Davis Corridor, which is heavily wooded, is used primarily for walking, horseback-riding, bicycling, cross-country skiing and nature study on its trails.

History of the land

The Davis Corridor lands were of historic importance in colonial days, providing an important road link between Billerica, Carlisle and Concord. According to the Land Stewardship Committee’s (LSC) baseline assessment of the property, sometime before 1683, Robert and John Blood came to Carlisle from Lynn and built their home east of today’s 454 Bedford Road. Four of Robert’s 12 children and many of their descendants built a number of houses on the east side of Carlisle, particularly on today’s Bedford Road, River Road, Prospect Street, Maple Street and Brook Street.

In 1744, Robert’s son Jonathan Blood requested that a road be built from his house to Concord. This road, now Stearns Street and Two Rod Road, was used for early travel between

The Trails Committee maintains signs within the Davis Corridor such as the one shown above, located at the junction of the Catbriar and Blood Farm trails. (Photo by Helen Lyons)

Billerica and Concord. The Old Revolutionary Tavern, which was located between what are now 108 and 78 Stearns Street, was a stopping point for travelers on their way to and from Concord. Travelers would continue from Stearns Street onto Two Rod Road, which was a cart path flanked by stone walls. After passing through what are now the Malcolm Land and the Estabrook Woods, travelers would connect with Monument Street in Concord near Hutchins Pond and Punkatasset Hill. Two Rod Road now provides part of the western border of the Davis Corridor.

Early maps also show an old road connecting Prospect Street to Maple Street. This “Old Road from Concord to Billerica,” which is today’s Blood Farm Trail on the east side of the Davis Corridor, may have predated Two Rod Road. It forms part of the eastern border of the Davis Corridor.


The Davis Corridor was acquired by the town over a six-year period in the 1970s. Not counting the Malcolm Land, it encompasses approximately 126 acres. Small discrepancies in various files and reports and the large number of old deeds make the exact acreage number hard to pin down. The town paid a total of $144,730 for the land and received a total of $64,681 in State Self-Help funds.

In 1971, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declassified forest land. The resulting increase in land value affected over 1,000 acres in Carlisle. Oliver Clark of Bedford approached the Carlisle ConsCom, with an offer to sell 37.6 acres of forest land to the town. In 1972 John Davis of Carlisle also chose to sell his land to the town for conservation rather than to developers. At this point the ConsCom began to look at the concept of creating a conservation/historical corridor which would allow trails on the Davis Land to connect with trails that would lead all the way to Punkatasset Hill.

Toward this end, the ConsCom pursued the purchase of the wood lot between the Davis land and Two Rod Road, owned by the First Religious Society, and the Burbank land, which would allow access to the new corridor from Prospect Street. At a special Town Meeting in 1973, acquisition of the Davis, Fleming, Clark and FRS lands were approved. The Clark-Carruthers parcels were approved for purchase at the May 1975 Town Meeting and the Burbank or Hodgeman land was approved for purchase in 1979.

Together with the purchase of the Malcolm Land in 1995, the new conservation corridor provided trails that connected several neighborhoods in the southeastern portion of Carlisle and provided access to and protection for the Estabrook Woods.

Conservation restrictions

In two separate actions, all of the Davis Corridor land (conservation restriction #36) and the Malcolm Land (conservation restriction #52) were placed under permanent conservation restrictions to help protect the abutting ecological research lands of Harvard University (Estabrook Woods). Today, the combined lands of the Davis Corridor, Malcolm Land, Harvard’s land, and other abutting conservation land are generally referred to as the Greater Estabrook Woods and constitute an area of approximately 1,000 acres of contiguous protected land.

General land description

When purchased by the town, the Davis Corridor lands were mainly woodlands together with several fallow fields and a wild cranberry bog. Today most of the Davis Corridor is gently rolling mature forest featuring oak, maple, birch, pine, and hemlock. Low growth species such as huckleberry, lowbush blueberry, swamp azalea, American chestnut, sassafras, partridge berry, wintergreen, and Medeola are intermixed with a wide variety of mushrooms, ferns and mosses. Deer are abundant, as are owls, hawks and other birds.

Adapted from map in Stewardship Committee’s “Managemen Plan for the Davis Corridor”

According to the LSC baseline assessment, remnants of an old wild cranberry bog, now filling in with red maples, can be found near (and to the east of) the junction of Two Rod Road and the Sachs Greenway trail. In addition, a 12-acre area called the Ox Pasture is still evident to the south soon after turning onto the Davis Trail from Two Rod Road. Two other areas of old fields are in the process of reforestation. At Bedford Road, to the west of the entrance, are shrubs and white pines where a field with parking space existed in 1980. At the Stearns Street entrance, to the east of Two Rod Road, are old fields filling in with sumac and other shrubs, with old apple trees remaining on the slope.

Special features

The Two Rod Road trail, with its distinctive double stone walls two rods (33 feet) apart, is a reminder of Carlisle’s colonial history. Similar old-road, double stone walls are found on the Blood Farm Trail along the Davis Corridor’s eastern border.

At the east end of the trail linking Two Rod Road with the end of the public walkway from Prospect Street is an old granite post marking a former Carlisle-Concord boundary. On Two Rod Road, south of the Davis Trail, a second granite post marks the modern Carlisle-Concord boundary.

Endangered species

In 2001, the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs introduced BioMap: Guiding Land Conservation for Biodiversity in Massachusetts. This planning tool, provided by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, was developed to help focus land conservation efforts. Conservationists first identify habitats of rare plants and animals and then identify high priority geographic areas, or “core habitats” that are most in need of protection. One of these core habitats, BM592, includes the entire Estabrook Woods and most of the Davis Corridor and is the habitat of the endangered violet wood-sorrel (Oxalis violacea), rare dragonflies and the elderberry longhorned beetle (Desmocerus palliates).

In 2006, updated information from the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program identified the Davis Corridor area as in the vicinity of Priority Habitats 394 and 373 and Estimated Habitats 4041 and 7464 that are known habitats for: Blanding’s turtle, wood turtle, four-toed salamander, spotted turtle, blue-spotted salamander and the river bulrush, all of which are on the state rare species list.

Current uses

The Davis Corridor is used primarily for walking and other passive recreation.The trails provide links to a major network of trails in the Estabrook Woods and on protected lands in Concord.

A short incline from the Bedford Road entrance leads to the Davis Corridor trails, which are relatively flat and provide an easy walk to several other trails. A recent walk revealed a magnificent catalpa in full bloom at the entrance to the woods on Two Rod Road. Moving into the woods along the Davis, Catbriar, and Blood Farm trails provided a chance to see the environment after a week of heavy rains and thunderstorms. A thick covering of ferns hid many clumps of Indian Pipes and a wide variety of mushrooms growing on sodden wood. Blueberry and huckleberry bushes, heavy with green fruit, grew next to jack-in-the-pulpits along the paths and skunk cabbage thrived near the raised boardwalks along the Davis and Catbriar trails. The flat terrain and child-friendly boardwalks allow families to enjoy this conservation land for even the shortest of walks.

Access and parking

The Davis Corridor is accessible from eight points. The only entrance with a designated parking area is on Stearns Street, left at the driveway entrance to the Malcolm Meadows senior housing.

Pedestrian entry is available on Bedford Road, across from Brook Street, from Prospect Street at the end of a public walkway as indicated by a small trail sign, from the end of Nowell Farme Road via an unmarked entrance (the path is to the left at end of the road), from the end of Long Ridge Road (unmarked entrance path is on the right at end of the road), from the end of Suffolk Lane, from the Sachs Greenway at the end of Baldwin Road, and from the town of Concord via Two Rod Road. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito