Central MA

Brooks Woodland Preserve


693 acres

Follow miles of footpaths and old farm roads through a massive expanse of diverse forest, pristine streams, and wetlands.


Plan Your Visit
  • Overview
  • Ideas for Your Visit
  • Admission & Hours
  • Directions & Contact Info
  • Property Map
  • Regulations & Advisories


Once home to the Nipmuc people, then cleared by settlers for open farmland, today Brooks Woodland Preserve is an undisturbed forest of towering red oaks, hemlocks, and white pine. The preserve is named for James Wilson Brooks, who set aside more than 2,000 acres of Petersham’s forest for conservation purposes, including Harvard Forest with its renowned research center.

Old stone walls remain as remnants of six early-19th-century farmsteads; much of the forested landscape seen today was formerly cleared for agriculture. Along parts of the Swift River, Moccasin Brook, and Roaring Brook, beavers have dammed the streams and created wetlands, and a cascade of glacial boulders near outcrops of granite ledge provides dens for porcupines.

Ideas for Your Visit

Take advantage of hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing on 13-plus miles of trails. The 1,500-plus-acre Rutland Brook Sanctuary of Mass Audubon is adjacent to the preserve.

Admission & Hours

FREE to all. Open sunrise to sunset.

Please note that parking lots are infrequently plowed in the winter.

Directions & Contact Info

East Street (Roaring Brook Tract)
Quaker Drive (Swift River and Connor’s Pond Tracts)
Petersham, MA 01366


Get directions on Google Maps.

To Roaring Brook Tract: From Rt. 2, take Exit 75 to Rt. 32 South towards Petersham Center. From Petersham Center, travel 0.8 mi. on East St. to entrance and roadside parking on left.

To Swift River and Connor’s Pond Tracts: From Rt. 2, take Exit 75 to Rt. 32 to Petersham Center. Continue on Rt. 122 South/Rt. 32 South for 1.5 mi. Turn left onto Quaker Dr. and follow for 0.5 mi. Entrance and roadside parking on both sides of road.


Property Map

There is a trail map posted on a kiosk in the parking area. We recommend that you take a photo of the map on your phone so you can refer to it during your visit, or download a trail map before you head out.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Hunting is not permitted at this reservation. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties. Although hunting is not allowed on this property, the surrounding properties do allow hunting so proper precautions are still advised during legal hunting seasons.
  • Dogs are welcome, but should be leashed.
  • Please note that parking lots are infrequently plowed in the winter.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY: We ask that photographers or their clients become Contributing Level Members before conducting portrait sessions at this property.  Click here for more information, and to request permission for any portrait sessions. The Trustees of Reservations reserves the right, and may give permission to its designated photographers and videographers, or to outside media, to photograph or video visitors and program participants at all its facilities and properties.
Before Setting Out
More to Explore

In the 19th century, much of the forested landscape seen today was cleared for agriculture; the stone walls and woods roads that lace the again-forested landscape echo this agricultural past.

The Preserve is named for James Willson Brooks, who set aside more than 2,000 acres of Petersham’s forest for conservation purposes, including Harvard Forest with its renowned research center. Adjacent to the Preserve is the 1500+ acre Rutland Brook Sanctuary of the Mass Audubon.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage was a gift to The Trustees of Brooks Wildlife Sanctuary (Mr. and Mrs. John Fiske and John Fiske, Jr.) in 1975. Additional land given by John Fiske, Jr. in 1978, 1980, and 1990; Rosalie Fiske in 1989; and Rosalie Johnson in 1999. Additional land purchased in 1994.

See What People Say

Woodlands contiguous with Harvard Forest lands. Access near Petersham center, so you can enjoy a New England village when you visit. Harvard Fisher Museum nearby as well.

A7155SNthomasj, TripAdvisor

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