About Ward Reservation
Climb a hill for great views extending from the surrounding Merrimack Valley to the Boston skyline, or explore this sprawling landscape along almost 10 miles of trails.
What makes the Ward Reservation a special place?
Credit Mabel Ward for her foresight, generosity, and enduring love. In 1940, seven years after the death of her husband, Charles W. Ward, she paid tribute to his memory and their union by making an original donation of 153 acres to The Trustees. In ensuing years, the Ward family and others have made additional gifts; the reservation now totals 700 acres.
Trails link three major hills – Shrub, Boston, and Holt – and looking out from their summits you can see how the property melds with the surrounding landscape. The “Solstice Stones” mark the grassy summit of Holt Hill, the highest point in Essex County. This compass-like arrangement of stones indicates the cardinal points on the compass, the points of the summer and winter solstices, and the points of the spring and autumnal equinoxes.
At the base of Holt Hill, step onto a boardwalk that leads to Pine Hole Pond, at which point you may ask: Is this water or land? In fact, you are walking across a rare quaking bog, comprised of concentric rings of floating vegetation, each with unique growing conditions. The bog is home to a number of interesting plant species, including orchids and insect-eating pitcher plants. Stop at the numbered stations along the way, each of which signals an interesting botanical or geologic feature. Pick up an interpretive booklet at the bulletin board to follow numbered stations along the boardwalk and learn more about this rare natural phenomenon.
Almost 10 miles of trails, easy-to-moderate hiking, strenuous in places. Some of the trails here are part of the Bay Circuit Trail, a regional greenway linking the North Shore and South Shore.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, 8am to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours.
Regulations & Advisories
Seasonal bow hunting is permitted, pursuant to state and local hunting laws, and only by written permission of the Property Superintendent. Learn more about hunting on Trustees land.
Andover and North Andover, MA 01810
Get directions on Google Maps.
From I-93 Exit 41, take Rt. 125 North 5 mi. Turn right onto Prospect Rd. and follow for 0.3 mi. to entrance and parking (15 cars) on right.
From Rt. I-495 Exit 42, take Rt. 114 East 1.7 mi. Turn right onto Rt. 125 South and follow for 1.6 mi. Turn left onto Prospect Rd. Continue as above.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, 8AM to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours.
FREE to all
The focal point of the Ward Reservation is 420-foot Holt Hill, the highest point in Essex County. The hill is named for the mid-17th-century settlement of Nicholas Holt. On June 17, 1775, townspeople climbed to the top of the 420-foot hill to watch the burning of Charlestown during the Revolutionary War.
Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift, with endowment, of Mrs. Charles W. Ward in 1940 in memory of her husband. Additional land given in 1944, 1946, and 1950. Additional land given by Charles L. Ward, Jr. in 1941; Phillips Andover Academy in 1957 and 1973; Mrs. C. Carleton Kimball and Charles L. Ward in 1958; Elizabeth W. Kimball, Charles L. Ward, John W. Kimball, Richard W. Kimball, Margaret K. Montgomery, Charles L. Ward, Jr., and Thomas B. Ward in 1972; and Mr. and Mrs. Jon Swenson in 1977. Other parcels purchased from 1958 to 1978. Additional land given by the North Andover Improvement Society in 1994; Emily Walton Taft in 1995; Mark Conserva in 1997; and Robert E. Webster in 1999. Additional endowment given by members of the Ward family.
Conservation and Stewardship
Periodically, The Trustees of Reservations, in partnership with the North Andover Fire Department, The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Bureau of Fire Control, and Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, intends to conduct a prescribed burn at Ward Hill Reservation in North Andover. This Partnership will apply a prescribed fire (or controlled burn) to part of the more than 30 acres at Boston Hill for the purposes of: protecting and promoting habitat for rare species; improving public and firefighter safety by reducing fuel loads for wildfires; and providing training opportunities for North Andover Firefighters and partners.
Click here to download the Ward Reservation Abutters Letter (dated 3/5/08).
Click here to download the Weir Hill Abutters Letter (dated 3/5/08).
Download the Weir and Boston Hill Fact Sheet, the Fire History of Weir Hill, graphs illustrating the frequency and response rate of fires, and maps (Weir Hill, Ward Reservation) of the proposed burn units.
Learn more about The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.
Download the memorandums of support from North Andover Fire Department and North Andover Conservation Commission (pdf).
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.
Ward Reservation management plan
Maps and Resources
Printed trail maps are distributed free from the bulletin boards in the parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.
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:
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.
Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.
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.