Gowings Swamp, Concord

Overlooking Gowings Swamp in the fall. Photo by Cherrie Corey
Concord-Carlisle Community Chest and local residents sponsor botanical inventory
Download the final Historical Survey and Botanical Inventory report (PDF, 3.06 MB)
Gowing’s Swamp, named by Thoreau for it’s landowner in the mid-1850’s, is an 8.9 acre acidic wetland complex located in a protected, glaciated hollow on the eastern side of a glacial kame known as Revolutionary Ridge.  A kettlehole bog, at the southern end of the wetland, contains specialized plant communities that are locally rare in Southern New England.  The natural area provides habitat for a diverse range of wildlife.  “Unlike any other bog in New England, Gowing’s Swamp found its way into American literature by virtue of significant passages in Thoreau’s Journal”, says botanist Ray Angelo, and has been visited and studied regularly over the last 160 years by Concord naturalists, literary and historical scholars, and has been the subject of ongoing scientific studies. Over the years, it has also served as an outdoor classroom for local schools, community groups, and environmental organizations.
Gowing’s Swamp and its trails lie at the heart of a larger public- private trail network in the Concord’s East Quarter.  This network includes walking access from Gowing’s Swamp, southeast along an historic “ancient way” to the National Park trailhead at Meriam Corner, east to the new town trail/farm access road being developed around the new East Quarter Farm Community Garden, north across Rte. 62 to Great Meadows NWR and the Concord River, northwest along the old RR bed (now part of the Bay Circuit Trail) to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and various trails north and south from the town center, and west along Revolutionary Ridge to Moses’ Pond.
SVT owns the eastern third of this wetlands complex, including a majority of the floating bog.  The central portion is owned by the Meriam Close PRD Trust and is overseen by Concord’s Conservation Restriction Stewardship Committee.  A portion of the western and northwestern shoreline, a small NW corner of the swamp, and an isolated vernal pool are currently under private ownership.  Future SVT plans for trail maintenance and improvements will be discussed and coordinated with all landowners.
With funding from the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest and local residents, SVT contracted with Cherrie Corey to prepare a botanical inventory and historical review of Gowing’s Swamp in Concord.  Cherrie surveyed and documented the plant communities in and adjacent to Gowing’s Swamp in order to provide a list of vascular and associated non-vascular plants species to inform stewardship planning and management priorities.  This project provides SVT with the foundation for a long-range plan for Gowing’s Swamp that will guide protection planning, land management decisions, and educational programming.
Now that the inventory is complete, we will establish interpretive materials and educational programming for this natural area that lies at the heart of a network of trails on Concord’s east side.  We will also be improving the access, trails and signage at this site.