Stone Arch Bridge
Full-length map of Tom Paul Trail
You can park near the sign on Coldspring Road, which is just north of the intersection with Forge Village Road. From there the walk to the bridge is level and only about a half-mile long. It is constructed on an abandoned railroad line, the "Red Line," on which trains traveled from Acton to Nashua. The rails and ties have been removed providing a wide walking path. Ruts in the path prevent the use of strollers, however.
On your right, you will pass the old, capped dump, which residents used to call "Mt. Trashmore," but at which a resident has recently erected a sign naming it "Bluebird Hill." This caring individual has erected bluebird nesting boxes on the dump's vent pipes and also around the edge of the hill. The birds have taken up residence and one can now observe vibrant bluebird pairs perching on the hill's grass and weed stems. Also look for red fox hunting mice on the hill.
As you continue on the walk, you will pass a vernal pool on your right, which in early spring, may be full of "quacking" wood frogs and singing spring peepers. On your left, a trail to the Russell Bird Sanctuary is marked. This short, hilly trail loops around a peninsula which juts out into Stony Brook. This is a good place to spy wood ducks, red-winged blackbirds, kingfishers and a beaver lodge. Along the bird sanctuary trail, there are nesting boxes and benches erected by Eagle Scouts.
The main trail crosses over the top of the Stone Arch Bridge. The bridge was built by the railroad in 1872, and was constructed entirely of huge granite blocks, without mortar. To fully appreciate its beauty, you need to continue on and take a trail to the right which angles backwards to the bottom of the bridge. Notice the beaver dam built right next to the bridge. A little further along the main trail, on the right, the Stone Arch Bridge trail is marked.
This is a short, hilly loop trail which affords nice views of the brook's north side. At this time of year, the brook hosts many species of migrating ducks.
You might want to bring along binoculars and a birding guide.
You can actually walk all the way to the Stone Arch Bridge from Westford town center on the 2.5-mile Tom Paul Trail (see also full-length map). If you are continuing from the Tom Paul Trail at Pine Ridge Road, proceed through town forest to the Stone Arch Bridge trail head.
The Stone Arch Bridge area is administered by the Westford Conservation Commission.
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