Major Trail Systems
Andover Conservation Commission Land
Town of Andover Land
Trustees of the Reservations
Pomp's Pond/Foster's Island
The Shawsheen River rises gently from a Bedford meadow, eventually fl owing into the Merrimack River. Its name comes from the Indian words for “Great Spring” and “Beauty’s Pathway.” Meandering northward through the middle of Andover, the Shawsheen River offers canoeists and walkers a chance to observe wildlife and water plants at close range. The river is shallow between Ballardvale dam and Abbot Bridge, but still canoeable in all except the driest times. Extensive cattail marshes make walking difficult along the east side of the river.
Public access to Foster's Island requires waterproof boots in most seasons. Take the Community Path through the Shawsheen Rubber parking lot, 220 Andover Street, pass AK Thomas and enter the woods. At an old sign, the trail branches; the right-hand trail goes to the Gravel Pit and Recreation Park, the left-hand unmarked trail goes to Foster's Island. Take the left-hand trail, noting the ample signs of recent beaver activity. At the point where the trail is flooded, the low beaver dam on the left is traversable and brings you to solid ground in 15-20 yards. Once back on dry ground continue straight past the boulder on the right (where the original trail, now flooded, turns to the right) to the river where you will find a narrow path to your right that goes along the top of the berm on the river's edge. This path brings you to the berm leading to Foster's Island where you find clearly marked trails.
A few hundred years ago, much of this land belonged to the Ballard family and Pomp's Pond was known as Ballard Pond. The Ballards and others used the power of the Shawsheen to run sawmills and textile mills. This area became known as Ballardvale and it remained a thriving industrial center through the end of the 19th century.
The Conservation Commission purchased the Recreation Park area and Foster's Island in 1967.