Central MA

Swift River Reservation


439 acres

East Branch of the Swift River

A landscape that once supported Colonial-era farming has returned to a natural environment of forest, swamp, fields, and uplands, laced by nine miles of trails and old roads.


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


At Swift River Reservation, the East Branch of the Swift River—the largest tributary of the Quabbin Reservoir—links three unique, exploration-friendly tracts of land. Varied topography and flora support an abundance of wildlife, including deer, beaver, raccoon, porcupine, bear, bobcat, and coyote as well as numerous songbirds, owls, and birds of prey. With majestic old pine and hemlock lining its banks, Swift River is one of the most scenic streams in the Commonwealth.

Ideas for Your Visit

Start your journey on the Nichewaug Tract, which includes extensive rocky ledges, a moist ravine, open fields, a beaver-dammed swamp, vernal pools, riverside habitat, and forest edges along woods roads. Get a glimpse of butterflies, birds, and dragonflies as you walk a grassy path through pasture brimming with seasonal wildflowers. At the forest edge, the path gives way to a woodland hike leading to a beautiful view of the surrounding valley.

At the Slab City Tract, you’ll find a series of open grass paths leading through cellar holes. At the woods line, separate trails abut Harvard Forest land and traverse the Swift River. A third trail takes you uphill from the reservation with views of granite outcroppings that were quarried for use in local structures—thus the name Slab City for the stones once gathered from here.

Admission & Hours

Free to all. Open sunrise to sunset.

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

Directions & Contact Info

Nichewaug Tract: Nichewaug Road
Slab City Tract: Route 122
Davis Tract: Glen Valley Road
Petersham, MA 01366

Email: info@thetrustees.org


Nichewaug Tract: From Rt. 2, take Exit 75, Rt. 32 South. Follow through Petersham Center. Go straight through the intersection of Rts. 122 and 32 onto South St. Follow for 0.9 mi. Turn right onto Nichewaug Rd. and proceed 0.6 mi. to entrance and parking (8 cars) on left.

Get directions to Nichewaug Tract on Google Maps.

Slab City Tract: From intersection of Rts. 122 and 32, take Rt. 122/32 South for 2 mi. to Connor’s Pond. Entrance and parking (6 cars) on right.

Get directions to Slab City Tract on Google Maps.

Davis Tract: From intersection of Rts. 122 and 32, take Rt. 122/32 South for 3.3 mi. Turn right onto Nichewaug Rd. in Barre (becomes Glen Valley Rd. in Petersham) and follow for 0.4 mi. to entrance/parking (8 cars) on right.

Get directions to Davis Tract on Google Maps.


Property Map

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

  • Dogs welcome, but must be leashed.
  • Hunting is permitted at this property subject to all state and town laws. It is recommended to wear brightly colored clothing like an orange vest or hat during the hunting season. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties, and read safety tips for non-hunters.
  • 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 late 18th century, much of the reservation was cleared for farms that conducted small-scale agriculture, subsistence livestock grazing, and fuelwood collection. Later, when new local industries placed greater demand on the area’s natural resources, the forest was largely cut. In the early 20th century, the forest returned, only to be decimated by a major hurricane in 1938. Today most of the reservation’s white pine and mixed hardwood forest date to after this hurricane.

The View From Here
See What People Say

Well-maintained trails, beautiful setting! We took amazing family photos there! Old rock walls, a river, so beautiful!

Kristie Barry, Google Review

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