Banta-Davis – more than soccer fields
by Helen Lyons
The September hurricane and October snowstorm have passed and more seasonal late-fall weather has begun to settle in. Why not take a break from post-storm clean-up to unwind and get some exercise that does not involve a chain saw or downed trees? Autumn is a great time to visit the local trails including some that don’t necessarily jump to mind when planning a hike. The Banta-Davis Land, usually associated with soccer and Little League games, is actually a beautiful spot for a walk – whether during a sporting event or during a quieter time. The parcel is easily accessed from the town center via the Bedford Road pathways.
The 40-acre town-owned Banta-Davis Land surrounds Green Cemetery on Bedford Road. The land was purchased by the town in 1973 for municipal use – specifically as the future site for school buildings, cemetery expansion and possible public works facilities. Town Meeting later voted to use a portion of the land for recreation fields including a baseball diamond, a softball field and a multi-use playing field surrounded by a running track. The rocky, wooded hilltop concealed extensive ledge and blasting was required to prepare the area. During the field construction in 1999, more than 50 truckloads of stone debris were removed. Areas of exposed ledge can be seen past the upper parking lot. Lines of boulders that surround the upper parking lot are visible reminders of the original landscape of the area. The southern-most section of the land and the area directly behind Green Cemetery are wooded and remain home to a variety of small animals while the area to the west of the cemetery is largely wetland.
Trails and features
The main trail on the parcel connects Spalding Field to the Banta-Davis playing fields and on to a short link that leads through the woods to Rodgers Road. The trail begins at the back corner of Spalding Field. However, the old planks that span the wetlands are submerged in some areas and very slippery in others. The Recreation Commission plans to replace this wetland crossing with a new boardwalk, but in the meantime, the Banta-Davis trail can be accessed from Church Street on a trail that begins between the wetlands and Green Cemetery.
The Church Street access trail begins on the south side of Church Street near the corner of Bedford Road at a break in the stonewall marked by three large boulders. This new access trail leads through the woods on dry land and meets the original trail behind the cemetery. A right turn at this point will lead back toward the wetlands crossing and Spalding Field. A left turn leads past a beautiful corner stone wall at the back of the cemetery and on toward the Banta-Davis Fields. Immediately after the left turn, the trail splits. The trail to the left runs parallel to the stonewall that marks the back border of the cemetery, while the trail on the right leads uphill through the woods toward the upper fields. Taking the right-hand trail, the short walk uphill passes a large rock outcropping on the left just before the crest of the hill. A large pine is growing directly on top of this rock. Just past this spot, the trail empties out at the softball field. Staying to the right of the field leads past the back of the upper parking lot and on to the multi-purpose playing field.
In the area between the parking lot and the woods, many areas of ledge are visible. These exposed ridges are home to a wide variety of lichens and are worth a few steps off the path. The area around the parking lot has benches, picnic tables and a small circuit training area. This area around the upper fields is heavily used by families during sports seasons, but on several early weekend mornings in November, it was completely quiet.
A great trail for kids. (Photo by Helen Lyons)
Just past the parking lot lies the multi-purpose playing field and paved track. A row of maple trees has been planted along the back side of the track. Walk past the maples and follow the track around the far side of the field to reach the connecting trail to Rodgers Road. This link begins at the southeast corner of the field and leads through the woods, following a stonewall for part of the way. The middle section of this trail is rocky where it crosses a seasonal stream. In early November it was quite wet.
To reach the main Banta-Davis trail, continue on the track past the Rodgers Road connector. About halfway down the length of the field a large boulder at the edge of the woods marks the beginning of the trail back toward the cemetery. This trail follows a slight downhill grade through the woods. As it crosses the driveway to the parking lot, it is worth a short detour off the trail and down the driveway toward Bedford Road. On the west side of the driveway is an invasives garden. This display includes clearly labeled examples of some of the more prevalent invasive species that are found in Carlisle. Further down the driveway on the right (east) is the Little League baseball field.
Return up the driveway to continue on the trail back toward Spalding Field. This segment of the trail runs parallel to the back of the cemetery following a beautiful old stonewall. It meets the access trail back to Church Street at the far corner of the cemetery.
The full loop from Church Street to the upper fields and back through the main Banta-Davis trail can be done in less than an hour. Picnic tables, benches and rocks for climbing make it an entertaining walk for children. The paved track near the upper parking lot is level and easy to use for those with baby strollers or those who have difficulty with uneven woodland trails.
Access and parking
Hikers can access the Banta-Davis Land from the parking lot off Bedford Road, from the boardwalk trail from Spalding Field, from the new access trail from Church Street or from the trail from Rodgers Road. Parking is available at the parking lot off Bedford Road or on Church Street near Spalding Field. ∆