Nestled in North Andover, the Ward Reservation is a tranquil haven offering various outdoor recreational activities that are popular amongst tourists, including hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, picnicking, and snowshoeing in winters. However, what makes Ward Reservation unique is its captivating history that dates back to the 17th century. If you’re a history buff, you cannot miss exploring the breathtaking beauty of this Reservation, which will take you on a journey through the region’s rich past of farming, mills, and architecture.
Begin your exploration of Ward Reservation by marking your way to the Castle trailhead, which is on the left side of the road before reaching the Reservation’s entrance. The Castle trail offers a short, scenic stroll through the woods and leads to a meadow where you can catch a glimpse of Boston’s skyscrapers in the distance. The meadow offers a stunning view of the rest of the Reservation and is a perfect spot for a picnic.
Next up is the Pine Hole Trail, which takes you through dense pine forests where the foliage can be dense enough to block out the sun. The trail’s highlight is the Pine Hole Quarry, a 25-foot-deep opening in the bedrock that stands nearly as tall as four people. The quarry was once mined to provide granite to pave the roads, and today you can witness the remnants of this quarry on this trail.
Another interesting feature of Ward Reservation is the Mill Pond reservoir, which has been around since the 1800s. It was built to help regulate flow to the mills downstream and was later used as a recreational area. Today it offers visitors a chance to kayak and canoe while taking in the natural beauty around the Reservation. You can rent kayaks on-site and make a day out of venturing around the Reservation.
The most popular attraction is the Prospect Hill Tower, towering about 230 feet above sea level, offering panoramic views of the surrounding Merrimack Valley. The tower is accessible by the hillside road or one of several hiking trails, including the rugged Skyline Trail, which offers an adventurous and challenging hike, with a steep climb to the top. On clear days, visitors can see as far as Cape Cod and the Atlantic Ocean.
Finally, wrap up your Ward Reservation visit by paying a visit to the stunning Mary French Reservation, located just a short drive away. The Reservation consists of 78 acres of land, including two ponds, several small waterfalls, an overhead railway, and a meadow full of blooming wildflowers. It’s an ideal spot for birdwatchers, with the woodpeckers, wrens, and blue jays being common sights.
Ward Reservation is a perfect spot for adventure seekers and history lovers who don’t want to stray too far from home. You’ll be captivated by the beauty of this Reservation, with its stunning natural landscapes, ancient quarries, and historical architecture. While you’re here, be sure to grab a map and take some unforgettable pictures of all the hidden gems you discover along the way. The Reservation is open year-round, so what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to North Andover today, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
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