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|Leominster State Forest|
Headquarters: 90 Fitchburg Rd./Rte 31 Westminster, Ma 01473
Beach and Contact Station: 1 Fitchburg Rd./Rt. 31 Westminster, MA 01473
Leominster State Forest is a 4,300-acre parcel of forested land, located in the five towns of Westminster, Princeton, Leominster, Fitchburg and Sterling in North Central Massachusetts. The forest is conveniently located off of Rte 2 (exit 28), is an easy drive for local residents, and convenient from the Boston and Worcester communities. Parking is available along Rte. 31 in several areas. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, parking fees are charged in the paved parking lots. The forest offers recreational opportunities year round, ranging from mountain biking and swimming in the summer to cross country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. Nature lovers will enjoy the numerous hiking trails, the prolific mountain laurel bloom in late June, early July and the opportunity to observe all kinds of wildlife.
RecreationThe trails at Leominster State Forest are extensive and offer a wide variety of terrains. For hikers, The Midstate Trail, a 95-mile long-distance trail that runs from Rhode Island to the New Hampshire border, passes through the western edge of the park. A popular day hike along the Midstate Trail begins at Redemption Rock on Rte 140 in Princeton, and heads north over a scenic ridgeline which includes Crow Hill Ledges. Heading south from Redemption Rock it is a pretty hike over to the summit of Mount Wachusett State Reservation, another DCR managed property. Wachusett Greenways, a local land preservation group, offers a variety of guided hikes and trail maintenance days in Princeton, Sterling and surrounding towns throughout the year.
The terrain available to mountain bikers ranges from rolling unpaved fire roads to more technical, single track, multi-use trails. Hiking trails are off limits to bikers. New England Mountain Bike Association has been an ardent supporter of the trail system here. The Wachusett Chapter of NEMBA generally runs four trail maintenance days, two in the spring and two in the fall. All are welcome to join in the fun and help to improve the trails at the park. Another popular and unique recreational use of LSF is rock-climbing at Crow Hill Ledges. Permits are required (no fee) and are available at the park HQ's or at the contact station between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The swimming beach at Crow Hill Pond is located next to two beautifulpicnic areas that also provide picnic tables, grills and a modern bathhouse. DCR lifeguards are on duty from mid-June until Labor Day. All other ponds in the park are off limits to swimming. Kayakers, canoeists and fishing enthusiasts enjoy using Paradise Pond for their recreational pursuits. The numerous islands, inlets and coves provide great warm water fishing and countless exploring opportunities. Paradise Pond is easily accessible off Rte. 31, where several put-ins are available. Crow Hill Pond (swimming beach side) is stocked with trout several times a year by Mass Fisheries and Wildlife. Hunting is also allowed in the park; all regulations apply. Winter recreation includes cross country skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling. Snow mobiling is limited to the unpaved roads and the multi use trails. All other motorized uses are prohibited.
There is NO CAMPING at Leominster SF. State operated campgrounds in the area include Willard Brook State Forest, Pearl Hill, Lake Dennisonand Otter River State Forest. Camping reservations can be made up to six months in advance at all of these DCR operated facilities.
Hikers observe and cast possible fresh footprints in Leominister State Forest
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COUNTY: Worcester County
LOCATION DETAILS: Leominster state forest, back side of No Town Res.
NEAREST TOWN: Leominster
NEAREST ROAD: Rt 2
OBSERVED: I am 45 years old, have spent my in the woods. I have been hunting and fishing since I was very young. On June 28th my wife and I decieded to take a walk in the woods. We were heading to a secluded resivior located aprox. 2 miles in the woods. We came upon a spot in the woods that seemed liked someone was watching us. We heard a noise come from some bushes. I thought it was a grunt from a buck. We both expected to a deer come outof the brush. I said, maybe it was a Bigfoot. She told me to shut up and keep walking. We walked for another 15 minutes and realized we were on the wrong path to the lake. We stopped, ate lunch and headed back into the woods. We had stopped at some power lines and sat in some shade. It was over 94 gegrees that day, and this was about noon time.As we walked back, we both noticed some very DEEP that did not look right. They were clearly 5 toed "Human" prints. In between the prints, was some deer tracks. The tracks clearly looked like the Human prints were chasing the deer prints. We both looked at each other and said, why would someone be running Barefoot, in 100 degree weather in the middle of the woods on a Tuesady afternoon? There were no other people in the woods at that time. The tracks were not there the first time we passed this spot, the noise was, the tracks were not. At this point I became very concerned that what ever made the prints was still in the area. I grabbed a big rock and told my wife to take some pictures with her cell phone. The tracks were about 6 to 7 feet apart. I could tell the first print was a right foot, that jumped out of the woods. The sixth and final step was a left foot that looked like it pushed off into the woods. No other tracks were before or after these six prints. We both became very nervous and started talking loudly and whistling. I did not want to run into this "person". We became a little confused and ended up on the worng path home. We walked for a couple hours, no way were we going back the way we came.Did not notice any smells or sounds. Just very quiet. No animal sound at all.
ALSO NOTICED: We took many pictures and made a casting of one of the prints. They were the deepest prints I have ever seen. No doubt a HUGE animal (human) made them. They were at least 3 to 5 inches deep. I did not even make a print when I stepped in the same area. I am 230lbs.
OTHER WITNESSES: My wife. Went back to the spot on 7/18 and found the same tracks with my brother and Friend
OTHER STORIES: We did feel like we were being watched the whole day yesterday. No animal sounds, very quiet again.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Prints were found at 1:00 pm EST
ENVIRONMENT: Rough trail, prints were in hard mud- looked very fresh, lots and lots of cover, blueberrys and deer tracks.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator D.A. Brake (PhD):
Ashburnham was first settled in 1736, and was officially incorporated in 1765. The name is of British origin, possibly drawn from the Earl of Ashburnham, in Pembrey, or the Sussex community of Ashburnham.
Ashburnam was originally made up of the lands granted to officers and soldiers of a 1690 to Canada. It was called the Plantation of Dorchester-Canada until it was incorporated.
Geography and Transportation
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 41.0 square miles (106.2 km²), of which 38.7 square miles (100.2 km²) of it is land and 2.3 square miles (6.0 km²) of it (5.68%) is water. Ashburnham has two distinct topographical areas, hilly to the east and relatively flat high ground to the west. To the east, Mount Watatic and Little Watatic Mountain rise in the northeastern part of town, with Jewell Hill to the southeast and Blood Hill rising just over the town line. In the western part of tow are several lakes, including Lake Wampanoag, Sunset Lake, Lake Watatic, Wallace Pond, and the Upper & Lower Naukeag Lakes, all of which (except Lake Wampanoag) feed into the headwaters of the Millers River, which flows westward towards the Connecticut River. Several brooks also feed into these lakes and ponds, along with several others between the hills in the eastern part of town. Several areas scattered around the town are protected as part of Ashburnham State Forest, as well as two smaller areas which are parts of Mount Watatic State Wildlife Area and a small portion of the High Ridge Wildlife Management Area to the south.
Though it is over fifteen miles east of the easternmost portions of Worcester County, it nonetheless is the northeast corner of the county, bordering Middlesex County to the east, and Cheshire County, New Hampshire and Hillsborough County, New Hampshire to the north. Ashburnham is bordered by Rindge, New Hampshire and New Ipswich, New Hampshire to the north, Ashby to the east, Westminster and a small portion of Fitchburg to the southeast, Gardner to the southwest, and Winchendon to the west. The town's center lies seven miles from downtown Fitchburg, 29 miles north of Worcester, and fifty miles northwest of Boston. There are several small villages within town, the most notable being North and South Ashburnham.
There are no interstates or limited-access highways within the town of Ashburnham, with the nearest being Route 2, the major east-west route through northern Massachusetts, which passes through Fitchburg and Westminster. Route 12 passes from east to west through town, entering from Westminster and passing west towards Winchendon. The northern terminus of Route 101, which passes from Gardner towards the north before terminating at Route 119, which passes from Ashby before entering New Hampshire and becoming New Hampshire Route 119. Routes 12 &101 share a short, 150-yard concurrency in the center of town. There are no stoplights in town.
An abandoned section of the Springfield Terminal Railroad passes through the town, splitting in South Ashburnham, part of which returns towards Gardner, the other part heading through Winchendon towards New Hampshire. A line of the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MRTA) serves the town; otherwise there is no public transportation within town. There are two general aviation airports nearby, Fitchburg Municipal Airport and Gardner Municipal Airport, with the nearest national air service being at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire.
Lake Watatic Dam is on the Lake Watatic River in Worcester County, Massachusetts and is used for recreation purposes. Construction was completed in 1900. It is owned by Town Of Ashburnham C/O Bwc.
Lake Watatic Dam is a gravity dam, of earthen construction. Its length is 400 feet. Its capacity is 2500 acre feet. Normal storage is 1000 acre feet. It drains an area of 6.1 square miles.