ESSEX — The Essex Land trust hosts its September ‘Hike of the Month’ to Fern Ledge on Saturday, Sept. 5. Meet at 9 a.m. next to the old Shoreline Clinic, off Rte. 153
With its steep terrain and high ledge overlooking a working farmer’s field, Fern Ledge has a unique place among the parks in Essex. Trails wind through woodlands and among old stonewalls, offering glimpses of Birch Mill Pond below. In winter, it affords distant, sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.
Note that the trail leading up to the ledge is steep.
The property sits astride the Essex-Westbrook town line. When the 10-acre parcel was purchased in 2005 from the estate of August Neidlinger and Catherine Doane, it had lain idle for many years.
The trail crosses one of the small streams feeding Birch Mill pond, vital habitat for turtles, salamanders and frogs along with ferns, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and skunk cabbage. Rare plants include Dwarf ginseng, May apple and wild leek. Look for a beaver dam in the pond.
The upper reaches at Fern Ledge are home to maple trees, oaks and birch along with mammals from fox to deer.