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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.