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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.