Malden, Medford, Stoneham,
Something like five miles northerly from Boston lies a great tract of country, all stony hills and table-lands, almost uninhabited, and of wonderful picturesqueness, and wild rugged beauty.- Sylvester Baxter, Boston Herald Supplement, December 6, 1879
The Middlesex Fells Reservation's 2,575 acres offer a welcome retreat for city dwellers and a suitable terrain for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, rock climbers, cross-country skiers and picnickers as well as natural and cultural history buffs. "Fells" is the Saxon word for rocky, hilly tracts of land - an apt name for this scenic area which is rich in local history. This picturesque area was once favored for timber, granite quarrying, ice industry, and water power for the many mills including one that manufactured some of the first vulcanized rubber products. The area was first explored by Governor Winthrop and his men in the winter of 1632: "
...they came to a very great pond, having in the midst an island of about one acre and very thick with trees of pine and beech and the pond had divers small rocks standing up here and there in it, which therefore called Spot Pond." (quote from Gov. Winthrop's private papers) The Botume House at 4 Woodland Road, Stoneham is the Middlesex Fells Headquarters and will soon house the Middlesex Fells Visitor Center.
Special features at the Fells include the Sheepfold meadow, Bellevue Pond, Wright’s Tower, Virginia Wood, Lawrence Woods, Spot Pond, and over 100 miles of trails. The Sheepfold is a 10-acre open field used by dog walkers and picnickers. Bellevue Pond is a seasonal pond surrounded by trails and wide fire roads, some leading up to Wright’s Tower which looks out over the Boston Basin. Virginia Wood, the site of a vanished mill village called "Haywardville" is now a dense hemlock enclave with an interpretive history trail. Lawrence Woods is an area of the Fells south of South Border Road with many wide “fire roads”, views and vernal pools. Long Pond parking area offers access from Winchester to a nature trail and scenic areas.
Fells Resource Management Plan
In January 2012, the DCR Stewardship Council approved the Middlesex Fells Planning Unit Resource Management Plan (RMP). This RMP is now the official adopted management document for the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The RMP is available at http://www.mass.gov/dcr/stewardship/rmp/rmp-midfells.htm along with its 26 appendices and seven planning maps.DCR looks forward to working with partners, stakeholders, users and volunteers to implement this plan to protect, promote and enhance the natural, cultural and recreational resources at this special place.
Spot Pond is a picturesque body of water, centrally located in the Middlesex Fells, just east of Routes 28 and 93. With a surface area of 340 acres, and a capacity of 1.8 billion gallons of water, it serves as a backup reservoir to the Quabbin, located in central Massachusetts.
Spot Pond Boating offers sailing, kayak, canoe and rowboat rental from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Sailing lessons are provided throughout the season as well.
Fells Trail System
The extensive trail network is used by hikers, mountain bikers, dog-walkers, runners, skiers and others. Feature trails include the Skyline Trail, Reservoir Trail and Mountain Bike Loop all in the western Fells that circle the Town of Winchester Reservoirs. The Rock Circuit and Crystal Springs trails provide loops in the eastern Fells. The Cross Fells Trail traverses the property. A trail system map is available on-line at
Things to know before you go:
Rules, Regulations and User Etiquette
The DCR Middlesex Fells is a popular urban reservation with a variety of uses and users. Please observe the following rules and user etiquette:
- The DCR Middlesex Reservation is open dawn to dusk only.
- Respect other users, expect other users.
- Stay on the official trails. All off-trail users are prohibited without a permit. Going off trail or on user-created trails creates erosion, damages habitat and causes new trails which can't be maintained.
- Bicyclists yield to equestrians, runners and hikers. All users yield to equestrians. When a horse approaches, move off the trail and ask the rider for instructions.
- Always ride within your ability, under control and at a safe speed.
- All users should avoid unpaved trails when they are muddy or wet.
- Mountain biking is allowed only on designated trails
- Mountain biking is prohibited on unpaved trails from March 1 to March 31 or as posted.
- Dogs must be on leash at all times in the reservation, outside of the designated area at the Sheepfold. Dogs at the Sheepfold must be under voice control of their owner.
- No more than three dogs per-person in the reservation.
- All dog waste and other litter must be properly picked up and disposed of.
- No Trespassing on Town of Winchester Water Supply Lands! Do not hike, walk or ride on trails or roads posted as no public access by the Town of Winchester.
- Fire, camping, swimming, and motorized vehicles are not allowed in the Fells.
- Users must obey all posted signs.
Parking is available at:
- Sheepfold parking area, Rte.28 (open 9:00 a.m. to dusk)
- Flynn Rink, the Botume House and Virginia Wood on Woodland Road
- Greenwood Park, the Stone Zoo and one "pull-off" on Pond Street
- Straw Point Parking Area on corner of South Street and Rte.28
- Bellevue Pond, Long Pond and other "pull-offs" along South Border Road
- Jerry Jingle Park on Lynn Fells Parkway (please use caution crossing to reservation)
- Crystal Springs Parking Area on Lynn Fells Parkway
- Additional "pull-off" on Fellsway East
Dog Walking at the Middlesex Fells
Dogs are welcome at the DCR Middlesex Fells Reservation with their owners and on-leash. Please observe the following rules and behaviors:
- No more than three (3) dogs per person.
- Dog(s) must be wearing a collar with current dog license and rabies tags. No choke or prong collars.
- Clean up after your dog(s), and properly dispose of waste.
- Do not allow your dog, even if friendly, to approach other dogs or people, unless invited. They may not desire such contact.
- Do not allow dogs to dig, or chase, harass or hunt wildlife.
DCR now provides a designated off-leash recreation area at the Sheepfold. Please also observe the following rules for this area:
- Dogs are allowed off-leash ONLY in the designated area. Keep your dog(s) leashed when entering or exiting the off-leash area.
- Always have one leash in hand for each dog you bring into the off-leash area.
- Dogs must be under control at all times, and come to their owners when called.
- Children under the age of 13 must be supervised by an adult.
- Not permitted: Unattended dogs, aggressive dogs, dogs in heat, digging.
Mountain Biking at the Middlesex Fells
Mountain biking in the Middlesex Fells allows the off-road cyclist the use of all “Fire Roads” or “Forest Roads.” Fire road loops can be found in Lawrence Woods and the Eastern Fells. In addition, a designated Mountain Bike loop trail offers riders a loop path around the Western Fells. This trail is marked by "Mountain Bike Loop" signs and blazed with green rectangles. This loop trail is about 85% on fire roads and 15% on a single-track trail. Bikers are expected to stay off trails marked with "No Bicycle" signs. Bikers are NOT allowed on the Skyline (white blazed) Trail, in the Long Pond area or in Virginia Wood.Mountain biking is also restricted on unpaved trails from March 1 to March 31 and when posted as conditions warrant.
Guided walks and hikes focus on the natural and cultural history of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. These programs are freeare offered to the public year-round by the DCR and the Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The Friends of the Fells also sponsors a Speaker Series and a volunteer trail restoration and maintenance program FoF. Mountain Biking rides and trail maintenance are sponsored by the New England Mountain Biking Association NEMBA.
Directions to the Middlesex Fells Reservation:
To the West Side of the Middlesex Fells: Orange Line to Wellington Station, MBTA bus #100 to Roosevelt Circle Rotary. Walk south to the rotary and turn right on South Border Rd. - Bellevue Pond entrance to the Reservation is .2 mile up South Border Rd. on the right.
To the East Side of the Middlesex Fells: Orange Line to Oak Grove Station, exit on the Washington St. side and head north on Washington Street (away from Boston). Washington Street bears left at intersection with Pleasant St. Go one more block up Washington Street and turn left on Goodyear Ave. Goodyear Ave. ends at the Gate 58 entrance to the Reservation at the east end of the blue blazed Cross Fells Trail.
To the West Side of the Middlesex Fells: Interstate 93 South to exit 35. At stop sign, go left under highway. At next stop sign go right. At first set of lights turn right onto Route 28. Turn right into Sheepfold entrance.
Interstate 93 South to exit 33 (Route 28). Take first right onto South Border Rd. Bellevue Pond entrance is on the right.
To the East Side of the Middlesex Fells: Interstate 93 South to exit 35. At stop sign, go left under highway. At next stop sign go right. Go straight through first set of lights. The Botume House Visitor Center is ½ mile past the Stone Zoo on the right.
To the West Side of the Middlesex Fells: Interstate 93 North to exit 33 (Route 28). Sheepfold entrance is 2 miles up on the left… Or, take exit 33, proceed halfway around rotary and take South Border Rd. Bellevue Pond entrance is on the right.
To the East Side of the Middlesex Fells: Interstate 93 North to exit 33 (Route 28). Follow Rte. 28 for .4 miles and turn right on Elm Street. Go3/4 of the way around the rotary and head North on Woodland Road for 1 mile. Botume House Visitor Center is on the left.