Cowassock Woods

Town
Ashland
Framingham
Acreage
54

SVT’s Cowassock Woods is tucked within the much larger Ashland Town Forest, and the extensive trails here offer numerous loops of varying lengths. In the spring, listen for peepers and wood frogs, calling from the nearby vernal pool. You'll also come upon a native pollinator garden, with tips on how you can provide habitat for insects and birds in your yard.

Forest Health Walk

The trails here include a self-guided Forest Health Walk, an online audio tour that explains how a healthy forest can sustain itself and the wild animals that rely on it. (You can also read a transcript of the narration if you prefer.)

Full Description

Together, Cowassock Woods and the Ashland Town Forest span more than 500 acres and are rich in both human and natural history. These lovely properties are composed of a mosaic of mixed-hardwood forest types, wetlands, vernal pools, and stream corridors.

The mixed-hardwood forest features oak and hickory tress, and there are patches of naturally occurring coniferous species including white pine and eastern hemlock. The center of Cowassock Woods includes a large area of planted white pine and a smaller area of planted red spruce and red pine.

Cowassock Brook begins at the maple swamp in the northern section of Ashland Town Forest and runs southeast though the SVT portion of the property. This creates a rich corridor of red maple, highbush blueberry, skunk cabbage, and a large diversity of sedges and wildflowers. 

  • Cowassock, “place of the pines” in the local Algonquian language, was a spring and summer campground for Magunkook Indians. Evidence of Native American occupation includes spear and arrow points, as well as documentation of their sale of land to early colonists. 
  • Colonial history here is fascinating. Families fleeing the Salem witch trials sought refuge in this wilderness, and it is believed that one family lived in the caves (now collapsed) in the Ashland Town Forest, just south of the water tower. 
  • Woodpecker, woodcock, wood thrush, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, and ruffed grouse have been seen here. One inhabitant of particular interest is the blue-spotted salamander, a species of special concern in Massachusetts.  
  • A portion of one of the trails in Town Forest has been designated as part of the Bay Circuit Trail.
  • As you walk the entrance trail at Cowassock Woods, you can still see signs of a development that was planned for the site; SVT acquired the 50-plus acres of Cowassock Woods in two stages in 1984 and 1992, after the plans fell through.

Directions

With mapping software or a mobile app, search for this address: 886-890 Salem End Road, Framingham, MA.

If driving south on Edgell Road, cross Route 9 and take an immediate right onto High Street. Go 0.3 mile. The road’s name changes to Salem End Road. Go about 1 mile to a three-way intersection. Take the middle option to stay on Salem End Road. Go about 0.8 mile. Parking and trail access is on the left between 886 and 890 Salem End Road.

Nearby Nature Sightings

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A pearl crescent butterfly at a pollinator garden at SVT's Cowassock Woods in Framingham, photographed by Michael Welles.
Michael Welles photographed a pearl crescent butterfly at at pollinator garden at SVT's Cowassock Woods in Framingham.
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A bobcat in Framingham, photographed by Anne Bell.
Ann Bell photographed this bobcat in Framingham.
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An eastern chipmunk at SVT's Cowassock Woods in Framingham, photographed by Cindy Winer.
An eastern chipmunk at SVT's Cowassock Woods in Framingham, photographed by Cindy Winer.
Cindy Winer photographed an eastern chipmunk at SVT's Cowassock Woods in Framingham.