Appleton Farms Grass Rides
Hamilton & Ipswich, MA
259 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Hunting Mountain Biking Dog Walking Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Picnicking Quest Guided Tours Restroom Regional Trail Link

About Appleton Farms Grass Rides

This family-friendly network of grassy trails provides an ideal environment for walking, exploring, and nature watching.

What makes Appleton Farms Grass Rides a special place?
With more than five miles of wide carriage paths bordered by woods, Appleton Farms Grass Rides was originally designed for horseback riding. Like a wagon wheel, five “rides” (an English term for carriage path) meet in a central clearing called the “Roundpoint,” where a large granite pinnacle salvaged from the demolition of the former Harvard College Library stands as a silent sentry.

Don’t miss the Great Pasture Trail, which parallels a stone wall.bordered by forest on one side and the beautiful open landscape of the Great Pasture, dotted with cows. From the Pigeon Hill overlook, you can take in a panoramic view of the entire pasture and the site of another pinnacle salvaged from Harvard.

There are four pinnacles on the property, given to the Appleton family in recognition of their long association with Harvard University. Over the centuries, many Appletons held important positions in both the military and government, practiced law or entered business professions. Many retained strong ties with Appleton Farms and its traditions, and some continued to live on the farm and manage its day-to-day activities.

Appleton Farms Grass Rides is made up of forest, open fields, and wetlands. On the upland portion of the reservation you’ll find secondary growth forest, interspersed by occasional small fields. Long ago, these areas were originally covered by mature stands of white pine and oak. However, in the 17th century, these old-growth forests were cleared by colonists to meet their needs for timber and pasture land. What you see today is the result of the slow process of vegetative succession and natural regeneration of former pastureland back into forest.

Wetlands found on the Grass Rides are part of the watershed for the Miles and Ipswich Rivers. At one time, these wetlands were more extensive than they are today. In the past, many farmers, who did not fully understand the ecological importance of wetlands, took measures to drain or divert them. As you walk the trails, look for the many fine examples of stone culverts and bridges that, thanks to the skilled craftsmen who constructed them, are still working effectively to maintain the existing wetland habitat.

5.5 miles of grass avenues (easy walking) that serve as a link in the Bay Circuit Trail and the "Discover Hamilton" trail system.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour, 3 hours if also visiting Appleton Farms.

Public restrooms are available in the Carriage Barn located in the farmstead.

Regulations & Advisories

We want everyone to experience and enjoy the Appleton Grass Rides. In order to protect the Grass Rides for years to come, we ask everyone follow a few guidelines and regulations while visiting the property.

  • Due to the softness of trails and sensitive wetland vegetation, horseback riding is NOT permitted in Appleton Farms Grass Rides.
  • Mountain biking is permitted only on designated trails. Trails are closed to mountain bikes March 1 – April 30 to preserve trails during mud season.
  • Please observe all posted signs.
  • Authorized bow hunting, only with written permission, is allowed on this reservation for a limited number of hunters, according to MasssWildlife regulations from mid October through December each year, from ½ hour before sunrise all day until ½ hour after sunset, Monday through Saturday. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays. Signage is posted at the property listing safety precautions, requirements, and rules for the benefit of all visitors. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties

    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.


    Highland Street
    Hamilton, MA
    Telephone: 978.356.5728

    Latitude: 42.6565
    Longitude: -70.8450

    Get directions on Google Maps.
    View a Street View of the Appleton Farms Grass Rides Parking Lot on Google Maps.

    From Route 128. Take exit 20A and follow Route 1A North toward Hamilton for approximately 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Arbor Street (by First Church in Wenham and Wenham Town Hall). Continue on Arbor Street for approximately .6 miles. Arbor Street becomes Highland Street. Continue on Highland Street for approximately 3 miles. The Appleton Farms Grass Rides parking lot is located .1 miles past Cutler Road. The parking lot is located on your right.


    When to Visit
    Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour, 3 hours if also visiting Appleton Farms.

    Members: FREE. Nonmembers: $5 parking fee. Get more information about parking fees >>

    Property History

    The Grass Rides, part of the larger Appleton Farms estate dating to the mid-17th century, were created by the Appleton family originally for horseback riding and carriage driving. Long ago, these areas were covered by mature stands of white pine and oak. However, in the 17th century, these old-growth forests were cleared by colonists to meet their needs for timber and pastureland. What you see today is the result of the slow process of vegetative succession and natural regeneration of former pastureland back into forest.

    Property Acquisition History
    Original acreage a gift of Col. and Mrs. Francis R. Appleton, Jr., in 1970. Additional land given by Mrs. Appleton between 1970 and 1998.


    2018 Summer Farm Camp Registration Now Open
    Check out the camp and register today >

    Tours and Programs
    Appleton Farms offers hundreds of interpretive tours and programs for families and adults throughout the year. For listings, visit our Events Calendar.

    Become a Quest Detective: Pinnacle Quest
    Your family will love to uncover the history and ecological treasures of the Appleton Farms Grassrides on our Pinnacle Quest! Use the clues and map to complete the Quest.
    Download the Quest.
    See other Quests and learn how you can become a Quest Detective.

    Programs can be found at our Things to Do page.

    Maps and Resources

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

    Planning Your Visit

    Travel Links
    Essex National Heritage Area
    North of Boston CVB
    Ipswich Online
    North Shore Chamber of Commerce
    Town of Hamilton Town of Ipswich

    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 Carol Ann on: April 19, 2015
    I love the Grass Rides. Would you consider a walking tour event in the future? Perhaps a theme could be The Pinnacles.

    Submitted by hope on: July 17, 2010
    Beautiful area. The name leads you to believe that you actually offer horse rides or carriage rides to the public. The public would better enjoy it if real rides were available for a fee.

    Submitted by clifford smith on: November 9, 2009
    you have a nice place was there this afternoon for a visit very nice like the open fields stone walls.could you send me some free info to clifford smith 93 cabotst beverly ma 01915

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