Gowing’s Swamp

Year Acquired / 2012
Size / 7.2 acres
Trails / 1
Properties / 4

Gowing’s Swamp is a rare and beautiful bog that was one of Thoreau’s most beloved Concord landscapes. To the uninitiated, it is a happy surprise, tucked away below a glacial ridge. In 2012, CLCT purchased a 7.2 acre portion of Gowing’s Swamp thanks to the generous support of the landowner and the community. The loop walk around the bog traverses protected land in all three ownerships.


Large bog system with unusual plants, interesting glaciated terrain

Trail Conditions

Generally easy walk on level to rolling terrain, a bridge to the northeast of Gowing’s Swamp requires stepping up and down and the southwest segment of the loop is wet and rooty

Entrances / parking

Park in the Ripley School parking lot, then walk to the left of the building and through the playground.

The trail begins at the far end, just past the ‘gathering circle’.

Explore this land

Gowing's Swamp

Visitors generally enter the trail at the northeast corner, from Ripley School. In a clockwise direction, the trail follows the shore of Gowing’s Swamp, with views through the fringing woods of a diverse array of bog plants – from taller shrubs such as maleberry and highbush blueberry to low plants like bog rosemary, cranberries and tawny cotton-grass. Tamarack trees and rare black spruces can also be seen. All of these plants tolerate the low acidity and poor nutrient levels of the bog environment. A floating mat of sphagnum moss covers the entire wetland and, while it may appear to be solid, it is growing over peat and water; for your safety, do not attempt to walk into the bog.

Leaves at Gowing's

As the trail continues between the bog and the steep side slopes of the glacial ridge to the south, it narrows and becomes rooty and occasionally wet. The damage from a tornado that touched down here in 2016 is evident in the biomass of the fallen trees in the bog and on the adjoining slopes. Then, the topography opens up and the trail passes through a rolling oak-pine woods. Gowing’s Swamp can still be seen as an open and sunlit area to the right. To the left, note the vernal pool in a small kettlehole; along with Gowing’s Swamp, this provides a breeding spot for salamanders and a variety of frogs. The northern segment of the trail passes out of the woods into shrubby growth and then grass; the loop ends at Ripley School.

View more land

View allless

The land regulations

Please stay on marked trails

Leave the land as you found it

Do not remove plants, wildlife, stones, or historical artifacts

Carry out litter and dog waste and dispose of properly

Dogs must be under control at all times

Please observe posted restrictions for horses and bicycles

No camping, fires, or hunting (except by special permission)

No alcoholic beverages

No motorized vehicles except to provide ADA access