While researching Brewster trails I noticed that Punkhorn Parklands, a vast conservation area, was off of Rte 6A in between Crow’s Pasture and the three trails of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Last week I tried to find it from the directions I found online. I had seen Stony Brook Road while driving on 6A and Run Hill Road was supposed to be off of it. Then all I was supposed to do was follow Run Hill to the end where I couldn’t miss the parking area for the trail. Well, I drove down Stony Brook to the end, I didn’t see it. There is a stop sign at the end of Stony Brook. The street sign of the connecting street read Setucket Road. I saw the famous Gristmill across the street. I figured I missed it and turned around and searched the street again. NOTHING !!! I ended up doing one of the 3 trails at the C.C.M.N. H. . I will post about that trail later when I have a chance to do the other 2.
The day after walking in the snow it was a sunny, chilly day. All the snow had already melted so I decided to try to find Punkhorn Parklands again This time I took Setucket, which starts in Yarmouth and parallels 6A into Brewster. I took a left on Stony Brook and again no Run Hill. I turned around and headed back to Setucket, took a left past the gristmill and there was Run Hill Road. I followed it to the end and there was the parking lot.
It looked like it was going to be confusing when I had read about the trail so I brought the map with me. Even the map looked like it would be confusing. There looked to be two entrances, one leading to the east and the other to the south. I took the south first. It lead to a water station and went to the east, I saw a orange marker with an arrow in the middle nailed to a tree so I followed it. There were many of these so I kept following them. There were some trails off the main trail but I stayed on course. The trail at first was rocky then sandy and then the usual pine needles. Some parts were narrow others were dirt roads. The trail looped around and heads back to the parking lot. It was about 2 ¼ miles. On the way back I noticed there were yellow markers also leading off in another direction.
I didn’t want to take the yellow trail until I finished the orange so I would know the distance. The yellow trail had more hills and was longer, 4 miles, and led to Seymore Pond where it ended and you had to turn and come back. There is only a narrow path to the pond no beach area. The woods were not to thick so the sunshine was nice. Of course there are no leaves on the trees yet. Horses must travel the trails a lot since I had to keep my head down so I wouldn’t step in there messes. I found out later that Emerald Hollow Farm has guided tours through the trails The paths on this side were the same as the orange side. Some wide some narrow.
If you decide to try Punkhorn Parklands stop by Stony Brook Grist Mill which was built in 1751 and is still working today. It uses the force of the adjacent stream to grind grains and corn into cornmeal. This from Frommer’s;
“It may be hard to believe, but this rustic mill beside a stream was once one of the most active manufacturing communities in New England, cranking out cloth, boots, and ironwork for over a century, starting with the American Revolution. The one remaining structure was built in 1873, toward the end of West Brewster's commercial run, near the site of a 1663 water-powered mill, America's first. After decades of producing overalls and, later, ice cream (with ice dredged from the adjoining pond), the factory was bought by the town and fitted out as a corn mill, with period millstones. Volunteers now demonstrate and urge onlookers to get in on the action in the restored gristmill. A bag of cornmeal costs $2. The second story serves as a repository for all sorts of Brewster memorabilia, including some ancient arrowheads. Archaeological excavations in this vicinity, sponsored by the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, have unearthed artifacts dating back some 10,000 years. As you stroll about the millpond, be on the lookout -- who knows what you'll stumble across? “
All in All it was well worth the effort. Nice long hike and a bit of history thrown in!!
For all the pictures click here
Ratings 1- the cellar 2- shoddy 3- tolerable 4- worthy 5- wicked good
Accessibility - 5 easy to find once you know the right directions
Parking - 5- Plenty
Length- 5 - I did over 6 just doing the 2 marked trails
Degree of Difficulty- 3 -easy in parts, but some of the hills are tougher
Dog Friendly- 3 - Some very narrow paths
Trail Markings- 5- Easy to follow with lots of directions
Trail Maintenance- 4 - Kept up by “Friends of Punkhorn” but look out for the many signs of horses.
Variation - 5 - Can mix and match the marked trails and try unmarked
Scenic - 3 - Not much but being down the street from the gristmill helps
Worth Returning - 4 - Nice length,
Beach - no
Facilities - no
What I like - Woods are not thick, the hills, the variety
What I don’t like- A lot of horse___
Overall Rating- 42 out of 50