Orchard Swamp is part of the Assabet River watershed, unlike its neighboring Crane Swamp, which flows to the Sudbury River. This is a wonderful wildlife habitat little seen by most people in Westborough even though it fronts Route 9 at places.
At present, public access is limited to the WCLT Hero Property. The Westborough Community Land Trust has started an effort to protect the remaining parcels in this wildlife habitat. As can be seen from the map to the left, this area is a jumble of land protected by the state, the town, and WCLT, intermingled with private land.
Photo Courtesy of Garry Kessler
On the way into the property from the Haskell Street ball field, the trail follows a long, narrow ridge called an esker formed by deposits from a stream that flowed under a decaying glacier long ago. This area contains both young and well established beech trees. In September, beech drops (Epifagus virginiana) can be found blooming on the ground near the trees. These small reddish-brown plants are parasitic on the roots of beech trees and have flowers but no green chlorophyll.
The trail on the Hero Property is known as the Greenleaf Canopy Trail. It is a nature trail with an interpretive guide to various stations in the swamp, built by the Westborough High School Environmental Club.
Photo Courtesy of John Gareri
Trail to Hero Property