384 Common St.
Called “ye wilderness” on old Dedham maps, Wilson Mountain Reservation is 207 acres of wild and varied terrain. The property was purchased by the Metropolitan District Commission in 1994 now managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). A deed search traced ownership of the property back to John Wilson in 1742. Wilson, a farmer and the property namesake, probably used the land to harvest trees and graze livestock. Too hilly in some parts and too wet in others to build or actively farm, Wilson Mountain today is an interlocking puzzle of habitats for a wide variety of animals and plants.
Time has buffered the human impact on Wilson Mountain Reservation. The casual visitor will have to look closely to see the old carriage roads, stone wall remnants and trail culverts which indicate that people have changed the land to suit their needs. Planted to enhance the landscape long ago, large tangled thickets of rhododendrons still grow on a hillside and surround a pool along Meadow Path.
Wilson Mountain is the highest point in Dedham at 295 feet. While not a true mountain, it does provide hilltop views of the surrounding area. Receding glaciers 10,000 - 15,000 years ago polished the hill, exposing granite bedrock which is visible at the summit. The varied greens of lichens, mosses and common polypody ferns color the forest floor.
A canopy of white pines, oaks and beeches shade the understory. Chipmunks and red squirrels forage for food in the pine needle carpet while titmice and chickadees call from the branches overhead. In cooler ravines and on the northern side of the hill, eastern hemlock and white birch grow. Usually found in more northern climates, these white birch have found a cool, moist pocket that protects and shelters them. The lowlands are dotted with streams and pools which provide habitat for many wetland species. Red maples, skunk cabbage and marsh marigolds ring the pools and fill the wet areas. Wood frogs and mourning cloak butterflies, heralds of spring, frequent these wet, shaded areas.
Off of Route 128/95, Exit 17, Route 135. Head towards Dedham. Parking lot 1/2 mile on right.
By Public Transportation:
Take the Needham Heights Commuter Rail from South Station. Leave the train at the Hersey Station. Turn right onto Great Plain Ave. Travel 0.5 miles. At the lights, turn right onto Greendale St. Travel 0.5 miles and turn left onto Route 135 east. Wilson Mountain Reservation is 0.5 miles on the right, before the running track at Northeastern University.
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