Rocky Woods Reservation
Rocky Woods Reservation
Directions from Boston: Rt. 9 west to Rt. 95 / Rt. 128 south to exit 16B, Rt. 109 West to Westwood. Right on Hartford. Parking lot is approximately 3 miles on your right. Open sunrise to sunset daily.
In Massachusetts there is an organization called The Trustees of Reservations whose mission is to "...preserve, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts." This organization oversees Rocky Woods Reservation, and I have to say, they do a truly excellent job from design to execution.
We were a little dismayed when we pulled into the parking lot - having slept in that Labor Day morning, who can blame us - when we found about a dozen cars parked there already. But although the reservation land is only 491 acres and used by dog walkers and equestrians as well as hikers, we ran into few others during the three hours my wife and I hiked there. This is a testament to the design of the trail system as well as the eclectic topography.
Rocky Woods is aptly named. The forest is filled with granite boulders of all sizes, from tiny to gigantic. One of the biggest is Whale Rock, which is visible from the Harwood Notch trail. If you are looking for an easy walk there are miles of flat trails to amble along, or if you want a bit more of a challenge you can climb Cedar Hill or Hemlock Knoll. Both offer brief, steep ascents over boulders and hardscrabble.
But over and above this, the trails are immaculately maintained. There was only one trail anywhere on the property where we had to step over a fallen tree, and everywhere there are signs of recent work to curb erosion and improve visitor experience.
We started out on the Loop Trail, since there is really no choice, and progressed to Harwood Notch Trail and thence to Ridge Trail. Hemlock Knoll and Cedar Hill are interesting detours off of Ridge Trail and Tower Trail, respectively. Early on we came upon the first of many ponds and lakes that dot the landscape on the reservation, Echo Lake. Later we passed by June Pond and Notch Pond.
Wildlife sightings are the highlight of any outdoor outing. On our visit we saw chipmunks, red squirrels, a garter snake, ducks, and white tailed deer.
All in all, the hiking is easy to moderate, the trails are excellently designed and maintained, and the scenery is placid, peaceful and exquisite. I highly recommend Rocky Woods Reservation as an excellent place to get away from the city an easy 45 minute drive from downtown Boston. Enjoy.