Try a trail close to home — The John Malley Trail
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A Lakeshore Walk on the Malley Trail

To walk the John Malley Trail is to walk along the shore of Mill Pond, although you’d hardly know it in some places when the foliage is green and thick. The trail stays close to the water’s edge, giving a good view of the water in fall, winter, and early spring (mid-October to mid-May).  But in late spring, summer, and early fall, stretches of trail pass through a tunnel of green or gold leaves, with little hint of the nearby pond. 

Along the Malley Trail, you can find old stone walls, signs of past beaver activity such as tree stumps gnawed to a point, vernal pools, chickadees and blue jays in the woods, and ducks, swans, and muskrats in the water.

Start the trail at either end by parking at the Mill Road boat ramp or at the Andrews Street entrance to the Headwaters Conservation Area. For a walk of less than a mile, follow the trail to the recently completed “Orlando bridge” and then turn back.  You can’t miss the sturdy bridge roughly mid-way along the trail, where it crosses a brook.

For a one-mile walk, follow the entire trail, but arrange for a ride at the other end.  For a pleasant two-mile excursion, walk the Malley Trail both out and back, and enjoy noticing different things in each direction.

If you begin at the Mill Road boat ramp, follow the trail on stepping-stones and planks through a wooded area that is often wet, especially in spring.  It’s fun for kids and many adults, but if you’re not sure-footed, skip this short section of trail. Instead, park at Veteran’s Freedom Park and pick up the trail where it skirts the park’s field near the water. Then go through the woods to another open area where the bridge is located.

Cross the bridge and enter the woods if you’re walking the entire trail. You’ll soon come to a small peninsula with some large, low tree trunks and branches, a popular place to pause and admire the pond and small nearby islands.  Continuing on the wooded trail, you’ll pass at least two vernal pools and eventually arrive at the Pumphouse Trail.  At that point you can turn back, or go right on the old road to the pumphouse peninsula, or turn left to the Andrews Street parking area, or make two lefts to loop around to the Malley Trail again.

Trail Information
To Mill Pond boat ramp – From Westborough center, follow West Main Street (Route 30) west toward Grafton. A little past the Country Club, turn right onto Mill Road and follow it to the pond. Park on either side of the road near the boat ramp.
To Andrews Street parking area From Westborough center, follow West Main Street (Route 30) west toward Grafton. Just past the Lutheran Church, take a right onto Old Nourse Street, and then a right onto Andrews Street to the small parking lot at the end.
Length: About 0.8 mile, or 1.0 mile from Mill Pond boat ramp parking to Andrews Street parking lot.
Terrain: Mostly flat.  At the Mill Pond boat ramp end, the first section of trail (0.15 mile) is swampy with stepping-stones and narrow planks.  (To avoid the wet section, pick up the trail at Veterans Freedom Park.) Near the Andrews Street end, there are some short hills.
Trail map: Mill Pond Area Trail Map
A description of this trail walk from the trail map brochure: From Mill Road, walk down the boat ramp and turn left on the road to the pump building. To the right of pump building, you will find the Charm Bracelet’s John Malley Trail, which leads you along the south shore of Mill Pond. In 0.15 miles you will reach Veterans Freedom Park with the Ranger Trail around the property. Continuing along the shore-line, you will reach a trail junction with the Pumphouse Trail in 0.65 miles. Continue to follow the Charm Bracelet signs along the shoreline to reach the extension of Andrews Street (also the Pumphouse Trail) in 0.2 miles. Take a left on the road, then another left on the side road to return to the John Malley Trail in 0.2 miles. From there it is another 0.8 miles back to the start for a nice 2-mile walk.

  • The Mill Pond boat ramp area is one of the best spots in Westborough to see sunsets.
  • The Malley Trail crosses Veterans Freedom Park, with trails around open fields.
  • In Veterans Freedom Park, a lovely stone bench (in memory of Josh Nute) is situated with a view of Mill Pond and the Malley Trail.
  • In late March and early April, listen for the quacking calls of wood frogs that gather to breed in nearby vernal pools (“spring pools” that often dry up by the end of summer or early fall).
  • In April and May, watch for large, dark mourning cloak butterflies flying over the road between the Andrews Street parking area and the sign for the Malley Trail entrance.
  • Year-round, look for pointed stumps and trees gnawed by beaver, and for beavers in the water.
  • Hunting is allowed on state land, so it is possible to encounter hunters on state-owned portions of the Mill Pond shoreline, especially during the hunting season for waterfowl.  No hunting is allowed on Sundays.
More About the Malley Trail
In 2005 the John Malley Trail was named in honor of the late John F. Malley, who served on Westborough’s Conservation Commission for 19 years and made it his mission to protect Westborough’s wetlands and open space. The trail is part of Westborough’s Charm Bracelet trail system and is one of a series of trails that encircles Mill Pond. Almost one mile long, the Malley Trail hugs the shoreline of Mill Pond, which was created in 1968 as a state flood control reservoir. The pond is also known as SuAsCo and as Stump Pond. The Malley Trail passes through Veterans Freedom Park and the Headwaters Conservation Area, both owned by the Town of Westborough, and along some narrow strips of shoreline owned by the State of Massachusetts as part of Quinsigamond State Park.

The “Orlando bridge” (informally named in reference to nearby private property) is a landmark roughly mid-way  along the trail. It was built by Westborough Community Land Trust (WCLT) volunteers in summer 2016 to replace previous smaller bridges that had been washed out. 
Orlando Bridge Construction by WCLT Volunteers 
“We all dug (and dug and dug), shuffled sacks of concrete, smoothed it into place, muttered incantations over it at odd moments,”  recalled Marge Fisher, WCLT stewardship chair.
Left Photo: Digging roots to prepare the site: (L to R) Ethan Steinberg, Al Sanborn, Jeff Steinberg, Kevin Johnson
Middle photo: Pouring footings: (front, L to R) Ethan Steinberg, Burt Osterweis, Jeff Steinberg; (in back) Mr. Young
Right photos: Finished footings on both sides of the brook.
Many thanks to Marge Fisher for the bridge construction photos.

Click the links below to read previous editions of WCLT’s “Try A Trail Close to Home”:
Bowman Conservation Area
Gilmore Pond in Upper Jackstraw Brook Reservation
Osprey Point Trail
To download all the Charm Bracelet Trail Maps click here.
WCLT members and friends:  Tell us about your own favorite trail in town!  Email us about it (300 words or less) at so we can add some trail information and share it with others.  Photos welcome!
Copyright © 2016, Westborough Community Land Trust, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
PO Box 838, Westborough, Massachusetts 01581

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Westborough Community Land Trust · PO Box 838 · Westborough, Ma 01581 · USA

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