Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary - Norfolk, Massachusetts
Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
108 North Street
Located less than an hour from Boston:
Take Interstate 93 south to Interstate 95 south to Exit 9. Continue on Route 1 South past Gilette Stadium. Turn right on Pine Street, Route 115. Continue on Route 115 to North Street in Norfolk. Turn left on North Street. Look for Massachusetts Audubon Society sign on right.
Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is maintained by the Massachusetts Audubon Society and abuts Briston-Blake State Reservation.
Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is a beautiful spot to enjoy natural surroundings with little effort. Almost every corner of the sanctuary is wheelchair or stroller accessible. The terrain is for the most part completely flat - although if you go looking for a small hill there is one.
Built around several interconnected ponds that remain wet year round because of an old dam, the place is full of waterlilies, dragonflies and waterfowl. On our short visit we saw a heron, ducks and of course the ubiquitous Canadian geese. The sanctuary itself is small - only 86 acres, but since it adjoins the Bristol-Blake Reservation with its 140 acres and is only separated from other nearby forest lands by widely spaces homes, chances of seeing wildlife there are good.
A system of boardwalks and wooden observation platforms enhance accessibility and provide wonderful vantage points for viewing wildlife. Benches provide places to wait for wildlife to show up or to simply sit and soak in the beauty of the natural surroundings. Quiet water makes a wonderful subject for contemplation.
After the boardwalks the path grows a bit less accessible. Although the paths are almost completely flat, there are often tree roots in the path that would make passage by wheelchair or stroller difficult. However, if one doubles back to the Visitor Center and approaches the loop from its east end, anyone traveling by either foot or wheel can get to most of the rest of the park from that side. Once again there are some slightly more challenging areas just below the dam, but these can be easily avoided by following the signs that indicate wheelchair or stroller accessible trails.
The dam is made of concrete and was used at one time to power a sawmill. Water spills over the dam onto a cascade of steps that end in a pool from which exits the small, musical brook that enters the system of ponds from the other end. I am assuming this is the Stony Brook to which the name of the wildlife sanctuary refers.
The forest is a mix of pine and hardwoods. In some places the pines have taken over, and there you can see the characteristic open and uncluttered floor of the pine forest. In many places there are boulders left there by the last ice age. Where the pines are not dominant the forest floor is a riot of undergrowth, including myriad wildflowers.
We arrived before the Visitors Center was open and there were only two or three other cars in the parking lot. When we left, the parking lot was full, but we had seen only two other people. It seems that even though the sanctuary is not huge, there are still plenty of places to find solitude.
I hope you enjoy a trip to the Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary. We did.