Quabbin Reservoir
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:485 Ware Road (MA 9), Belchertown, MA
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free

mass.gov/dcr; 413-323-7221

Bathrooms: At the visitor center
Water/Snacks: Water fountains at the visitor center

The impressive Quabbin Reservoir is one of the largest artificial reservoirs in the country. You can hike, snowshoe, or bike its trails, or rent a canoe and paddle around.

The large Quabbin Reservoir has 181 miles of shoreline and is surrounded by forest.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

The Quabbin Reservoir was created in the 1930s, when two earthen dams were built that filled gaps in the Swift River Valley to create a public water supply. It covers 39 square miles, is 18 miles long, and has 181 miles of shoreline. When it’s full, the reservoir holds a staggering 412 billion gallons of water. It provides 40 percent of Massachusetts residents with their drinking water!

While this is a protected source of water, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a visit. Since the reservoir is fed by three branches of Swift River as well as by Ware River, and the watershed land is protected, an “accidental wilderness” has been created. Wildlife thrives in this safe area, in various habitats. Wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, foxes, coyotes, and any number of bird species can be found here. In winter, bald eagles can usually be spotted from Enfield Lookout.

After you pick up a map and information at the visitor center, stop at the Quabbin Observation Tower, which has wonderful views and gives you a true perspective of how large the reservoir is. You can explore more than 20 miles of trails at the park, and biking is quite popular for all ages. On certain parts of the reservoir, you can fish or boat. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent. Check at the visitor center for rules and instructions. You can purchase a oneday fishing license at the boat launch (anyone over 15 must have one).

Remember: More than 2.5 million people depend on the reservoir for their drinking water, so swimming, dog walking, or anything else that could contaminate the water supply is prohibited.

Plan B:

About 30 miles west, you can check out Dinosaur Footprints (Trip 88) to see evidence of the creatures that roamed the earth long ago.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Head west on MA 9 into Belchertown to find some restaurants on and around its Main Street.


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