Rock House Reservation
Find Your Place
Rock House Reservation West Brookfield, MA
135 acres

About Rock House Reservation

Kids will enjoy exploring the jumble of boulders that forms this “house,” beyond which you’ll discover a small, serene pond.

What makes Rock House Reservation a special place?
Built by the glacier and blessed by indigenous tribes who hunted and worshiped here, the cave-like shelter and its surroundings are an intriguing blend of geologic and human history. Nature lovers can enjoy expanses of wildflowers, hardwood forests and pine groves, while watching for a wide variety of animals, from wild turkeys to painted turtles.

The centerpiece of the property, understandably, is the massive, 20- to 30-foot-high rock enclosure that stands guard over man-made Carter Pond. But visitors who choose to explore the 196-acre tract will find there’s plenty more to sample from this multi-faceted greenspace. Like much of central Massachusetts, the history of Rock House Reservation is that of forests transformed into farmlands, ponds and streams turned into mill power, and now all reverting to their natural states.

Over the thousands of years the glacier pushed, pulled, and scraped over the New England landscape, myriad land formations, such as the Rock House, were created. But the movement of the ice sheet also left behind boulders in the most improbable places. A striking example of these “erratics” is Balance Rock, which perches atop a large stone outcrop.

Rock House’s mammoth proportions and southern exposure made it an excellent winter camp for Native Americans. Its location near two long Native American footpaths suggests that it may also have been a trail camp and meeting place.

In the mid-17th century, colonists cleared the forests of West Brookfield for farming. In 1866, pastures around the Rock House were added to a 281-acre farm on Ragged Hill Road owned by William Adams, whose family would tend the land for more than 125 years.

During the first two decades of the 20th century, the Rock House was a popular stop on the “Copper Line,” an electric trolley that ran between West Brookfield and Ware. Visitors came to picnic in the abandoned pastures and explore this historic Native American landmark.

Trails
More than 3 miles of trails and woods roads. Moderate hiking, strenuous in places.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

Facilities
Portable toilet (open seasonally) and small trailside museum (nature center) overlooking Carter Pond.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Hunting is permitted, in season, on part of the property west of Outer Loop. Learn more about hunting on Trustees land.

  • Dogs must be under voice control or kept on a leash at all times.

  • Fishing and swimming in Carter Pond are not permitted.

  • Mountain bikes and horseback riders are permitted on the fire road only.

Directions

Route 9
West Brookfield, MA 01506
Telephone: 413.532.1631
Email: central@ttor.org

Latitude: 42.2678
Longitude: -72.1984

Get directions on Google Maps.

From the Mass Turnpike (Exit 8), take Rt. 32 North toward Ware where it joins Rt. 9. Stay on combined Rt. 32/9. When the routes separate, follow Rt. 9 East for 1.1 mi. to entrance and parking (12 cars) on left.

Admission

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

Admission
FREE to all

Property History

Following the arrival of Colonists in the mid-17th century, the forests of West Brookfield were cleared for farming. In 1866, pastures around the Rock House were added to a 281-acre farm on Ragged Hill Road owned by William Adams, whose family would tend the land for more than 125 years.

During the first two decades of the 20th century, the Rock House was a popular stop on the “Copper Line,” an electric trolley that ran between West Brookfield and Ware. Visitors came to picnic in the abandoned pastures and explore this historic Native American landmark.

Property Acquisition History
Anonymous gift, with endowment, in 1993 in memory of William Adams. Additional land purchased in 2002.

Programs

The Trustees host an annual Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction for the reservation each November in West Brookfield. Find details on this and other events in the Central region.

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 Rock House management plan.

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from the bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.

A Natural History of Rock House Reservation may also be purchased from the Western Regional Office, 193 High Street, Holyoke, MA; 413.532.1631; westregion@tttor.org.



Private Functions

Outdoor functions for up to 50 people may be arranged. For more information, email central@ttor.org or call 978.840.4446.

Planning Your Visit

Community Links
West Brookfield Historical Commission

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

Safety

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 Jerry on: November 9, 2011
Beautiful place. Any idea of the name and size of the small mountain at the end of the Summit Trail?



Submitted by jimmy on: January 19, 2010
i lived there where the parking lot is now in the late 1950'2 and early 1960's.next to this was also an old gas station and a dairy bar called Rockhurst. owned by the Spooners. we foraged for mushrooms, cut xmas trees, roamed the rocks, fished, sailed miniature boats,(Still lost at the bottom)had many picnics, went skating, taboganning. even then, i was four to seven or eight and knew it was a very special place to be. i was humbled by it's beauty even at such a young age. i showed all my friends as i grew up. it was quite a nice date for a picnic. thanks for dreaming with me, jimmy barrows



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Announcements & Alerts

No advisories at this time.

Upcoming Things To Do
No events for this reservation at this time.
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