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A landscape that supported Colonial-era farming has returned to a natural environment of forest and swamp, fields and uplands, laced by seven miles of trails and old roads.
What makes Swift River Reservation a special place?
We think it’s that you can visit three unique tracts of land, all linked by the East Branch of the Swift River, the largest tributary of the Quabbin Reservoir.
The reservation’s varied topography and flora support an abundance of wildlife, including deer, beaver, raccoon, porcupine, bear, bobcat, and coyote, as well as numerous songbirds, owls, and birds of prey. With majestic old pine and hemlock lining its banks, Swift River is one of the most scenic trout streams in the Commonwealth. For years the Swift River has been a favorite spot amongst sports fishermen. Steep ledges in several locations provide dramatic vistas overlooking the reservation and Swift River valley.
The Nichewaug Tract includes extensive rocky ledges, a moist ravine, open fields, a beaver-dammed swamp, vernal pools, riverside habitat, and forest edges along woods roads. Get a glimpse of butterflies, birds, and dragonflies as you walk a grassy path through pasture brimming with seasonal wildflowers. At the forest edge, the path gives way to a woodland hike leading to a beautiful view of the surrounding valley.
At the Slab City Tract, you’ll find a series of open grass paths that lead you through cellar holes. At the woods line, you can pick up separate trails abutting Harvard Forest land and also traversing the Swift River. A third trail takes you uphill from the reservation with views of granite outcroppings that were quarried for use in local structures (thus the name ‘Slab City’ for the stones once gathered from here.) A geocache is hidden here for those equipped with the coordinates.
7 miles of trails and woods roads. Moderate hiking, strenuous in places.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours for Nichewaug Tract, 1 hour for Slab City Tract, and 1 hour for Davis Tract. Allow additional time if also visiting North Common Meadow or Brooks Woodland Preserve.