The Quabbin Valley is in Central Massachusetts, it consists of the Quabbin Reservoir and a number of small towns and settlements.
Towns and villages in the area inckude: Barre, Belchertown, Hardwick (Including the villages of Gilbertville, Wheelwright and Old Furnace), Hubbardston, New Braintree, New Salem, Oakham, Pelham, Petersham, Ware.
Back in the early 1920s the people from Boston, Massachusetts did not have their own water supply to satisfy their growing needs. Thirsty Bostonians looked eastward to the Swift River and the topographic design of the Pioneer valley and figured it would be a perfect fit for a reservoir. Through a series of buyouts the four towns that inhabited this area were bought and the inhabitants were forced to move. The entire landscape was torn up and recreated. Houses had to be torn down, factories demolished, millions of acres of trees were cut, and even bodies from cemeteries had to be dug up (except for some Native Americans) and moved to a new location in the near by town of Ware, MA. The actual flooding of the valley occurred in August of 1939 and in 1946 the reservoir was filled to capacity. To this day it is one beautiful sight in any season. During the Summer the water glistens, Fall brings the marvelous New England colorful foliage, and Winter in its silent white beauty descends on the area. This reservoir in the middle of Massachusetts, allows biking along its paths, hiking its countless trails, and even in the Northern section fishing is allowed in the summer. This is certainly a place for hikers, bikers and other weekend explorers. If one looks carefully, in the woods, there are countless cellar holes, stone walls, and abandoned roads reminiscent of a time past. While fishing, if one happens to look down into the water, on a sunny day, the remnants of old buildings and foundations can be seen at the bottom. This sort of eerie adventure brings many to this location during all seasons.
One of the most attractive features bringing traveler's to Petersham is it's wealth of conservation land. Bordering the Quabbin Reservoir, thousands of acres are under MDC control.
It is difficult to predict where wildlife can be seen on any given day. Since Quabbin is not a zoo, the animals are wild and roam at will. There is always something to see at Quabbin, it might just not be what you might be expecting. Many animals are active at dawn or dusk, so your chances of seeing some species are better at these times. The type of animals you are searching for will influence the habitat type you should visit. Two precautionary notes:
- 1) Animals are wild and should be treated as such. Do not approach animals, keep a healthy distance. Be sure to avoid any animals exhibiting odd behavior as the individual may be infected with rabies.
- 2) Feeding or baiting animals is strictly prohibited under MDC Rules and Regulations. When it comes to food, animals can fend for themselves just fine. Feeding them foods that are not part of their natural diet can actually be harmful to them and also make them reliant upon humans for their food.
Known animal species in the Quabbin area: Red Fox; Coyote; Beaver; Weasels; Bobcat; Porcupine; White-tailed Deer; Loons; Bald Eagles; Black Bear; Moose; and yes there have been confirmed sightings of Mountain Lions
- 1 The Quabbin Reservoir. is a man-made body of water located in This reservoir was created in 1938 by damming the Swift River and flooding four towns: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott. Is often called the "Accidental Wilderness" and home to a variety of wildlife including bald eagles.
- Petersham's town common. listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the finest in Massachusetts. Approximately 45 buildings are included in the historic district, including the old Nichewaug Inn, the Petersham Memorial Library and the Petersham Country Store.
- Fisher Museum, Petersham. small but wonderful. Harvard University's School of Forestry, and an additional 3300 acres of conservation land owned by the university, and containing lovely hiking trails.
- Trustees of Reservation properties, Petersham. including the North Common Meadow, the Swift River Reservation and the James W. Brooks Woodland Preserve totaling over 1000 additional acres of conservation land right in Petersham. The Trustees own an additional eight properties within a 30 minute drive of Petersham.
- Robinson Farm, 42 Jackson Rd, Hardwick, ☏ . Organic vegetables, grass-fed beef, and raw milk are all produced on this farm. As are thousands of pounds of rustic cheeses.
- Cultural Center at Eagle Hill, 242 Old Petersham Road, Hardwick, ☏ . $15-million performing arts center in rural Hardwick. 460-seat main theater, 80-seat studio theater, a 500-seat function hall, gallery and studio spaces.
- Gate 36. Petersham, MA (State Forest Rd)After parking at the T intersection, walk east to the shore of Quabbin Reservoir. At a fork in the road, go either direction; both roads lead to shore walks and possible sightings of eagles, loons, or other birds. The one to the right heads north, eventually connecting with Gate 35. The one to the left heads south; it turns inland after about ½ mile, and when it splits, the left-hand extension heads up Soapstone Hill.
- Gate 22-25. New Salem, MA (South Main St)The dirt roads from Gates 24 and 25 converge and then in short while converge with the road from Gate 22. Near this intersection once lay the village of Puppyville, home of the first gristmill in New Salem; old foundations bear witness of past lives. Further east the main road splits, the trail to the right leads to the shore of Quabbin Reservoir, a total of 1½ to 2 miles from the gates. The trail to the left takes a slightly longer route to the shore and then continues north along it, eventually connecting with a road from Gates 26 and 27. The view from both the north and the south trails afford breathtaking view of some of the islands of the Quabbin—islands that were hilltops before the creation of the reservoir. Another pleasure of these trails is their flirtation with the sparkling waters of Hop Brook.
- Gate 45. Hardwick, MA (Greenwich Rd) There is an immediate parking lot right off the road that many hikers use. From this lot the dirt road leads into some of the oldest and best kept remains of the old Quabbin. Along the trail you will find old stone walls that move throughout the woods and even old house foundation all along this path. This trail eventually leads to a breathtaking view at the shore's edge.
- Some info from North Quabbin Woods
- (Entrance: Massachusetts State Police Barrack:485 Ware Rd, Belchetown MA . Exit: Quabbin Reservoir Tower), ☏ . An intermediate ride, only 2.5 miles long. Starts off along the water of the Quabbin and then travels over the Windsor dam past the Spillway and up to the beautiful lookout tower area. From the top of the tower the sights are amazing. You can see for at least 2 miles around in each direction.
- (Entrance: Massachusetts State Police Barrack:485 Ware Rd, Belchetown. Exit: Goodnough Dike). An Intermediate ride that spans the whole southern half of the reservoir. Only 5 miles of this ride is all hills. These hills are sloping however nothing too steep. You follow scenic route 9 and end at the other famous dam, The Goodnough Dike. This is another breathtaking view of the reservoir and its surrounding areas.
- (Entrance: Massachusetts State Police Barrack:485 Ware Rd, Belchetown. Exit:Goodnough Dike). This expert ride consists of a heavy number of hills. It is a 6 mile ride that follows the road down to the tower and continues along the water of the reservoir. During fall this ride is stunning with all the foliage. You can take this ride down to the Dike and return for a longer workout of 12 miles.
All fishing must be done in the Northern Quabbin, you must have a valid fishing license, and must pay a fee before using any boat.(Kayaks and Canoes not allowed)
For a list of fishing regulations visit Massachusetts DEM Quabbin Fishing Guide