About Weir Hill
Trace the western shoreline of a sparkling lake or enjoy a woodsy ascent to scenic views of the Merrimack Valley.
What makes Weir Hill a special place?
We think it’s the striking vistas of both scenic Lake Cochichewick and of the broader landscape of the Merrimack Valley that will charge your imagination. Whether you prefer to wander the property’s eastern border along the lake shoreline or ascend to an overlook for a westward panorama, Weir Hill Reservation will replenish body and soul.
Follow the 0.75-mile Edgewood Farm Trail to reach the meandering shore of Lake Cochichewick, which dominates the east and south edges of this reservation. The two-mile-long lake and Weir Hill ("wire hill") are the dominant natural features in the northeast part of town and easily its most scenic. In fact, Great Pond Road was laid out on the east shore to take advantage of the views across the lake and the hill rising just beyond. Cochichewick has long served as North Andover’s drinking water supply, so public access remains limited. Hikers of the Edgewood Farm and 0.4-mile Cochichewick trails can feel fortunate as they wander, enjoying terrific water-level views. Take caution if you trek this route in winter, though, as these trails get icy!
For a quite different, but equally memorable experience, take the 0.71-mile Stevens Trail up the spine of Weir Hill to where a scenic overlook opens on the right. Hikers enjoy a broad panorama of the Merrimack Valley spreading below. On days of good visibility, you can see Mount Wachusett rising in the distance beyond Worcester, and northwest of Wachusett, New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock.
Generations of agricultural use, a history of fire, and cutting and mowing regimes have created a patchwork landscape on Weir Hill that supports ten different types of plant communities, from a 60-acre oak-hickory forest to hillside seeps, intermittent streams, and wet meadows. Several threatened state-listed and watch-listed species can be found on Weir Hill, including the white bog orchid (Habenaria dilitata), violet bush clover (Lespedeza violacea), butternut trees (Juglans nigra).
Four miles of trails, easy to moderate hiking, strenuous in places.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.
Regulations & Advisories
- Lake Cochichewick is part of the Town of North Andover’s public drinking water supply; public access is not permitted.
- Due to the dry condition of the woodlands, wild fires are not uncommon. Please do not drop cigarette butts or use fire in any form.
North Andover, MA 01845
Get directions on Google Maps.
From I-93 Exit 41, take Rt. 125 North 7.3 mi. Merge left onto Rt. 114 West and then right back onto Rt. 125. Follow for 0.2 mi. and turn right onto Andover St. Continue for 0.6 mi., bear right at fork, and continue 0.2 mi. to intersection. Proceed straight for 0.1 mi., turn left onto Stevens St., and continue for 0.8 mi. to entrance and roadside parking on right.
From I-495 Exit 42, take Rt. 114 East 1 mi. Turn left onto Rt. 133 East and follow for 0.2 mi. to traffic light. Proceed straight onto Andover St. Continue as above.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.
FREE to all
Prior to settlement, Weir Hill undoubtedly was the site of Native American activity; a 1968 archaeology survey identified a campsite at the southeast end of the reservation. It is likely that Native Americans set fire to the hill to improve the landscape for hunting, and used submerged fish weirs (woven fences with stakes) to catch alewives in Cochichewick Brook before they reached Lake Cochichewick to spawn. The reservation takes its name from these fish weirs.
In the mid 17th-century, early settlers cleared the slopes of Weir Hill for use in livestock grazing, including sheep and cattle. In the 18th and 19th centuries, dams were built along Cochichewick Brook to power lumber and grist mills, and for the past 100 years, Lake Cochichewick has provided North Andover’s main supply of drinking water (public access to the lake is not permitted).
In 1853, industrialist Moses T. Stevens married Charlotte Emeline Osgood, and over the next 30 years, Stevens’ prosperous flannel wool mill enabled them to acquire much of the land on the west shore of the lake, including Weir Hill. Here, Stevens built a country estate of more than 500 acres that included a magnificent redbrick and brownstone mansion with accompanying stables, greenhouses, and farm buildings.
Later in his life, Moses T. Stevens helped found the North Andover Country Club, which was built in 1897. The original clubhouse’s half-hidden foundation can be seen in the southeast corner of Weir Hill, right on the shore of Lake Cochichewick. At the time, members would paddle across the lake to the links to play golf and then back to the club house for dinner and dancing in the evening. In 1909, the club was moved across the lake where open farmland allowed for the development of a golf course and new clubhouse.
Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift, with endowment, of the Estate of Abbot Stevens in 1968. Additional land given by the Abbot Stevens Trust in 1975. Additional land purchased by MLCT in 1974 with funds donated by the Abbot and Dorothy H. Stevens Foundation and the Nathaniel and Elizabeth P. Stevens Foundation. Additional land donated in 1994 by the North Andover Improvement Society.
While we do not currently have any programs at Weir Hill, you can explore other nearby reservations through a variety of events and activities.
Conservation and Stewardship
Ascending the 0.71-mile Stevens Trail from the parking lot, you may begin to notice char marks on trees and signs of burned underbrush. Not to worry. Trustees ecologists, along with our partners at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Bureau of Fire Control, Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Andover Fire Department, have conducted controlled burning exercises, called “prescribed fires,” on several areas of the reservation.
The carefully monitored fires are designed to protect and promote habitat for rare species, including plants, wildflowers, and butterflies. The burns are equally important for reducing understory and woody debris that could otherwise provide “fuel” for wildfires that burn uncontrolled. Humans have used fire at Weir Hill for many centuries. Native Americans probably burned the hill to expose good hunting grounds, full of deer and other game.
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.
- Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.
Weir Hill 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.
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.