I'm sure that at one time, the Boyden Wildlife Refuge was a place with more purpose than it has today. I've been here a handful of times in the past two years, and while it's a godsend for people who want to walk their dogs (because Taunton doesn't have a dog park), it's also a place that's fallen victim to lack of upkeep and proper oversight. Kudos to the volunteers and friends of the sanctuary, who apparently do all they can with what they've got.
The sanctuary itself consists of a small picnic area and a few walking trails, one of which is now off-limits due to erosion. The main path leads into the woods and is a fairly easy walk over pine needles, with some sandy spots and few hills/curves. The views along the trail are pretty good - there are nesting swans and the picturesque Three Mile River, but that's about it. It's worth the journey to get to the end of the trail and check out the dam near Spring Street in North Dighton, but you'll then have to walk all the way back down the same trail to return to the parking lot - this trail does not loop.
While there isn't much wildlife to be seen on the property, there are some other oddities - two rusted shells of what appear to be 1970s-era vehicles, a dilapidated power substation and the concrete foundation of what used to be some other type of building. There's also a one-room log cabin built as a memorial, but there's nothing in it (the last time I visited, someone had left a bag of dog poop in the cabin... not nice).
Save for the dog poop (thankfully, MOST people clean up after their dogs here), the entire area is trash-free, so the grounds do feel somewhat peaceful. The entire property, however, needs a facelift. Even some signs detailing what used to be on these grounds would be of interest to those who come to visit today, but we're only left to guess how those cars got so far into the woods all those years ago. Were they stolen and torched? Perhaps they were Mrs. Boyden's personal vehicles? We'll never know.
Don't let this review sway you one way or another; the Boyden Wildlife Refuge really must be seen to be appreciated. Visit during late morning & and early afternoon hours, or on weekends, when the crowd seems less sketchy. Bring your dog on a leash, and please use the complimentary poop bags.
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