The Great Woods Conservation Areas
The Great Woods is the largest collection of protected conservation parcels in Mansfield. The northeastern portion of the woods is located between Route 495, South Main Street, and is accessible from Judy’s Lane. This area contains some very pleasant hiking paths. There is parking for one or two cars at bend of Fisher Lane.
Access to the Conservation
Access to the larger, southwestern portion of the Great Woods is from Oak Street. This section has trail markers on the major trials. There is a signboard, with a map, near the beginning of the main (RED) trail. Many of the trails are linear (you go and come back on the same path) but all travel through some scenic and historic areas. Right off of Oak Street are some farm fields that helps create a varied mix of plant and animal life. There is a nice loop (ORANGE) trail that starts at the parking area and runs along one of the old farm pathways, over a stone wall (near the first trail junction point) and through some of the backfield before re-joining the old farm paths.
Entrance & Parking
The entrance and the parking area are located at the big bend in the road on Oak Street. The Great Woods has long been recognized as a very significant natural resource area. The varieties of habitats are an excellent classroom for everyone to enjoy. More information and maps of The Great Woods may be obtained from The Natural Resources Trust of Mansfield website. View the Great Woods Trail Map (PDF).
Corporal Robert Francis Hardy Conservation Area
Located behind the Highway Garage on East Street, this area is best accessed off of Maple Street, near the entrance to the Cate Springs Well. Parking is available in a couple of pull-off area on the street. Significant for this area is the nice variety of trees and shrubs, with the Atlantic White Cedar being unusual to this region. Some people fish in the area’s couple of small ponds. The Town has 2 drinking water pumping stations in the interior of this area.
Things to Do
There are several trails, old forest roads and paths through this area. Canoe River access is off of East Street, next to the Highway Garage and Mansfield Rod and Gun Club. View Corporal Hardy Markers Trail Map (PDF).
Marie Strese Conservation Area
Located near the intersection of Branch and Ware Streets, there is parking for a couple of cars. The trail crosses over the underground gas line which is a relatively straight and open swath through this area and climbs as it goes towards the plateau above the river. The path does a nice loop, and it is a pleasant walk for young and old. As the paths approach the river the area does get wet with some thick vegetation.
Canoe River Greenbelt Area
Both the Maple Park and York areas are critical parts of the Canoe River Greenbelt area that runs through the towns of Sharon, Foxborough, Mansfield, Easton and Norton. The Canoe River Watershed and Aquifer system is a vital component of the drinking water supplies of these communities, and the Conservation Commission hopes that you can help protect this important natural resource. View the Marie Strese Conservation Area Trail Map (PDF).
Sweet Pond Conservation Area
Located off of Otis Street, this area is at the rear of the Little League Playing Field complex. There is parking lot, or if the main gate on the street is closed, you can easily walk into this area. There is a nice path that goes along the river. This is also a good fishing spot that kids will enjoy. While not a large area, it is pleasant. View the Sweet Pond Conservation Area Parcel and Aerial Trail Maps (PDF).