Bear's Den
New Salem, MA
6 acres
Bird Watching Hunting Mountain Biking Not Permitted Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Picnicking Historic House or Structure

About Bear's Den

Take a short walk to a scenic waterfall or the site of an historic mill.

What makes Bear’s Den a special place?
On its way to the Quabbin Reservoir, the Middle Branch of the Swift River cascades into an intriguing woodland pool at the bottom of a secluded gorge. Here, along a short, quarter-mile trail, you have two choices: go to the left and you can explore the  enchanting waterfall; head to the right to follow the stream as it tumbles through large boulders past the site of an old mill.  

According to local legend, in 1675, the great chief Metacomet (known to European settlers as King Philip) met here with neighboring chieftains to plan attacks on Hadley, Deerfield, and Northampton.

A black bear shot on the property gives the reservation its name.

A single 0.25-mile trail; moderate hiking. Children should be monitored closely as there is a steep drop on the rim of the trail.

When to Visit
Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Be sure to watch your children closely as there are steep drops and rocky terrain throughout this reservation.

  • Seasonal hunting is permitted at this property subject to all state and town laws. Learn more about hunting on Trustees land.

The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.


18 Neilson Road
New Salem, MA 01355
Telephone: 978.840.4446

Latitude: 42.541
Longitude: -72.325

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Rt. 2, Exit 16, follow Rt. 202 South. Shortly after Rt. 202 merges with Rt. 122 South, turn right onto Elm St. Turn left on Neilson Rd. Follow Neilson Road for 0.5 mi. to entrance and roadside parking on right. 


When to Visit
Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset.

FREE to all

Property History

Property Acquisition History
Bequest of Mrs. Grais Poole Burrage in 1968. Additional land given by Mrs. Dorothy Fittz in 1988.

Conservation and Stewardship

Management Planning for Our Properties

Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:

  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.

View Bears Den management plan.

Maps and Resources

At present, a downloadable trail map for Bear's Den is not available. 

Planning Your Visit

Community Links
Franklin County Chamber of Commerce

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations


About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land 

Tell Us What You Think

We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

  1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

  2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

  3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.

Submitted by Waterfalls on: May 16, 2014
I went to Bears Den Fall and had a great time. The only problem was they had tried to close the road to get to the falls for road paving that was happening no where near the location of the falls. But I got there so early I was still able to view the falls.

Submitted by slainte_va on: March 12, 2012
The trail was not marked at all. We wandered around by the stream, crossed over the fallend markers, no signs...never could find any other trails, the mill or the huge waterfall. Very disappointed. You will need a GPS to navigate this poorly marked trail.

Submitted by Dave on: May 6, 2010
My grandchildren had a wonderful time, as did I.they crossed over the river by rocks and explored a different path as i wacthed.It's a lovely place to go with children but you may want to wacth them... there are high cliffs and things that are easy to fall off of... -Dave

Submitted by witiii on: December 29, 2009
Great site.

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