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Swift River Reservation
Petersham, MA
439 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Hunting Dog Walking Fishing Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Horseback Riding Picnicking Quest

About Swift River Reservation

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.

Regulations & Advisories

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.


Nichewaug Tract: Nichewaug Road
Slab City Tract: Route 122
Davis Tract: Glen Valley Road
Petersham, MA 01366
Telephone: 978.248.9455
Email: central@thetrustees.org

Latitude: 42.461
Longitude: -72.165

Get directions on Google Maps.

Nichewaug Tract: From Rt. 2, take Exit 17, Rt. 32 South. Follow through Petersham Center. Go straight through the intersection of Rts. 122 and 32 onto South St. Follow for 0.9 mi. Turn right onto Nichewaug Rd. and proceed 0.6 mi. to entrance and parking 
(8 cars) on left.

Slab City Tract: From intersection of Rts. 122 and 32, take Rt. 122/32 South for 2 mi. to Connor’s Pond. Entrance and parking (6 cars) on right.

Davis Tract: From intersection of Rts. 122 and 32, take Rt. 122/32 South for 3.3 mi. Turn right onto Nichewaug Rd. in Barre (becomes Glen Valley Rd. in Petersham) and follow for 0.4 mi. to entrance/parking (8 cars) on right.


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.

FREE to all

Property History

In the late 18th century, much of the reservation was cleared for farms that conducted small-scale agriculture, subsistence livestock grazing, and fuelwood collection. Later, when new local industries placed greater demand on the area’s natural resources, the forest was largely cut. In the early 20th century, the forest returned, only to be decimated by a major hurricane in 1938. Today most of the reservation’s white pine and mixed hardwood forest date to after this hurricane.

Property Acquisition History
Land purchased in 1983 and 1985. Endowment given anonymously during the Centennial Campaign.

Maps and Resources

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

Additional resources:

Planning Your Visit

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 Debbie on: September 14, 2013
Had a nice walk through the property - not sure where or how far I went but I saw the river, one of the overlooks that will be absolutely stunning in a few weeks - will need to return - and many rare pink Indian Pipes and pretty purple mushrooms.

Submitted by pecos on: January 30, 2010
What a beautiful area. The trails were well marked and obviously well cared for. I would recommend a hike there anytime.

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