Bear Swamp
Ashfield, MA
312 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Hunting Mountain Biking Not Permitted Dog Walking Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Picnicking Regional Trail Link

About Bear Swamp

Hike three miles of trails, some steep in places, to a nearby beaver pond and terrific views of hillside orchards spreading below and the distant Green Mountains.

What makes Bear Swamp a special place?
To early settlers, Bear Swamp was truly rough terrain: steep, wooded hillsides and exposed bedrock descending to boggy wetlands and swamp. Nonetheless, all of the land was cleared for forest products, pasture, and even hayfields. But contemporary explorers will find a landscape of hard beauty, with field reclaimed by forest and the dark lowlands illuminated by colorful wildflowers in bloom.

Return to the Wild
Other than remnants of water mills and maple sugaring works, man’s imprint here has been largely swallowed by the return of the forest. And along with the oak and cherry, maple and birch and evergreens, have come clusters of lowland vernal pools, shaded from the sun.

The trees provide habitat and nesting places for myriad bird species. Come spring, several species of warblers announce their arrival, as mallards and wood ducks murmur in the ponds and freshwater marshes. And from the seasonal pools emerge the insistent songs of spring peepers and wood frogs. Great-horned owls and barred owls hoot in winter, while pileated woodpeckers loudly hammer home their presence on dead pines all year long.

3 miles of trails. Moderate hiking, strenuous in places.

The aptly named Fern Glade Trail passes through carpets of ferns and wildflowers. Take the Beaver Brook Trail, also accurately named, to where an aging stone dam supports a beaver dam. If you love a grand vista, follow the trail to Apple Valley Overlook. From this promontory, a panorama takes in both apple orchards in the near distance and, on the northern horizon, the Green Mountains of Vermont.

When to Visit
Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

Picnic table at Apple Valley overlook.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Seasonal hunting is allowed.

  • Mountain biking is not allowed.

  • Dogs must be kept on leash at all times.

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.


Hawley Road
Ashfield, MA 01330
Telephone: 413.213.4751

Latitude: 42.549
Longitude: -72.825

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Northampton: Take Rt. 9 West.
Turn right at Cape St./Rt. 112 North. After
6 mi., turn left at Hawley Rd. Follow for 1.7
mi. to entrance and roadside parking on left.

From Pittsfield: Take Rt. 9 East/Rt. 8A
North. Turn left onto Rt. 8A North/Savoy
Rd. After 4.4 mi., turn right onto Rt. 116
South. After 15 mi., turn left onto Rt. 112
North. At intersection of Rt. 112, Rt. 116,
and Hawley Rd. in Ashfield, follow Hawley
Rd. west 1.7 mi. to entrance and roadside
parking on left.

The path to the Apple Valley Overlook
is opposite the main entrance.


When to Visit
Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

FREE to all

Property History

Much of this rugged landscape was cleared by settlers in the 18th century for sheep pasture and other agricultural uses, while the upper slopes were logged for fuel wood and building timber. Concerned that the growing population of Ashfield would spell an end to its wild places, Esther and Philip Steinmetz began to buy land in the early 1960s and rallied other like-minded property owners to help preserve this environmental gem. A memorial plaque is found at the Apple Valley Overlook.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift of Rev. and Mrs. Philip H. Steinmetz in 1968. Additional land given in 1974 and 1979. Additional land given by Kathleen T. Tanner, Mabelle T. Jordan, Blanche T. Clark, and Edward G. Tatro in 1969; Mr. and Mrs. Gouverneur Morris Phelps in 1970; Mrs. Helen S. Walker in 1971; and Dr. and Mrs. Henry G. Clarke in 1974. Additional land purchased in 1997.

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from bulletin board at entrance. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.

Private Functions & Photography

Private functions may be arranged under certain conditions; call 413.532.1631 or e-mail for more information.

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