The Bragg & MacDonald Town Forest is located on Plain Street in the northern part of North Attleboro, encompassing eighty acres of picturesque woodlands, diverse wildlife ecosystems, and the town’s very first dog park.
The vision of this project aimed to revitalize the town forest by creating new walking and hiking trails, offering the community a space to reconnect with nature and enjoy this beautiful space in our town.
The five new trails were designed to accommodate walkers and hikers of varying skill levels. The distances range from a quarter mile to a mile and a half, ensuring that there is a trail suitable for every adventurer, from beginners to seasoned hikers. What makes these trails even more special is that each one is named after a prominent town resident, adding a personal touch and a sense of community to the experience. As you embark on these trails, you’ll not only immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the forest but also connect with the history and spirit of our town.
The trail mapping process was a collaborative effort that extended over a period of six months. Heather Cabral, the GIS Division Manager at the North Attleboro Electric Department, generously volunteered her time to collaborate with Tony Morabito, Assistant Town Manager, and Steven Carvalho, Parks and Recreation Director, to help bring this project to fruition. Heather led the activities involving trail planning, trail marking, and mapping development.
The process began with a thorough geospatial data analysis, utilizing the Town’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This entailed overlaying several datasets, including imagery, wetlands, topographical contours, existing trails, property boundaries, and several other environmental data. The purpose of this analysis was to gain a deep understanding of the forest’s unique features and constraints. Once completed, a detailed site plan was generated and used during numerous field inspections to assist with evaluating the physical terrain and identifying potential constraints for trail mapping. The time invested in exploring the eighty acres played a vital role in pinpointing the most suitable locations, guaranteeing that the trails would not just be functional but also harmonious with the natural environment.
After the fieldwork was completed, a trail map design was created, reviewed, and granted approval after field inspection by the project team and review with the Town Forest Committee. Heather and Tony then proceeded to physically mark all the trails by using different colored ribbons attached to trees and branches to help easily identify each trail for the clearing process.
Once all the trails had been distinctly marked, they were cleared within a few days. Heather and Tony provided onsite instruction to a contractor who operated a heavy equipment machine that removed roots and swept brush to establish level paths for each trail. Throughout the process, they also helped to relocate any larger brush that obstructed the contractor’s work. Upon completion of the trail clearing process, Heather used the Global Positioning System (GPS) to capture accurate geospatial locations of each trail, while Tony, his son Antonio, a dedicated member of Boy Scout Troop 33, and Martin Grealish, a Member of the Municipal Building and Town Forest Committee, installed the trailblazes and signage.
Heather also used ESRI mapping software to create the official trail map, available for download from the Parks and Recreation website. This trail map serves as an informational guide showing the trails, mileage, guidelines, restrictions, trail descriptions, and level of difficulty.
The creation of the new trail system was a labor of love, dedication, and meticulous planning. From the initial vision to opening day, every step was taken with the community’s enjoyment and appreciation of nature in mind.