The East Quabbin Land Trust encourages visitors to all of its preserves. Please be respectful of the land and other visitors. EQLT has several policies that guide use of the land, including a Dog Walking Policy, Hunting and Fishing Policy and Recreational Trail Use Policy. We encourage you to go explore the Moose Brook Preserve.
The Moose Brook Preserve lies at the heart of the Moose Brook Valley: a region of great ecological significance in the region. The Valley and its associated supporting habitats have been declared an Important Bird Area by a panel of international conservation organizations due to its high density of breeding Neotropical species that are otherwise experiencing serious population declines. The Moose Brook Preserve holds a wide suite of interior forest breeding birds and offers terrific bird watching opportunities. The lower Valley as a whole has been described in chapters of the recently published Bird Finding Guide to Western Massachusetts published by the UMass Extension.
- 3.5 miles
- 2.5 hours
- Moderately difficult
Start Location: Marked landing on west side of Brook Road, 1 mile north of intersection of Brook and Prouty Roads.
End Location: Same
Getting there: From Barre Common, go south on South Street to the intersection of route 32. Follow route 32 south into Wheelwright and turn west onto Shunpike Road. Turn north at the end of Shunpike Road onto Prouty Road. Brook Road is ½ mile on west off of Prouty Road. Follow Brook Road for a mile to the parking area which is on the left.
From Hardwick Common, go east on Barre Road, past the hairpin turn and turn north onto Prouty Road, just before the railroad underpass. Follow for ¾ mile and turn left onto Brook Road. Follow Brook Road for a mile to the parking area which is on the left.
Route Description: The trail system of the East Quabbin Land Trust’s Moose Brook Preserve winds through the rich forest and steep hillsides on the western ridges of the Moose Brook Valley. From the landing the trail is blazed Yellow. This is a ¼ mile spur that runs south and meets with the main body of the forest loop at a double yellow blaze. At this intersection you may continue south, or turn west, upslope. Either way will work as this is a one-mile loop, though, for this overview, the trial will be described by continuing south. Follow the yellow blazes, soon crossing the footbridges above the drainage of a vernal pool, then along the base of a steep forested boulder field strewn with glacial erratics, and ultimately to the intersection of an old logging road. The trail turns west here, upslope, paralleling a beautiful intermittent stream before ascending sharply up the logging road. This stretch brings you at near eyelevel with the canopy below you as the steep slopes continue to reach above you. As the grade begins to level off you’ll come to a stone step in the trail and a small segment of stonewall. Future plans are for a long southern spur trail at this point that connects with the Mandel Hill trails, but for now, continue along the yellow blazes that wind through the open forest of the plateau, over a raised log footbridge above a seep, and to the intersection with the green –blazed trail. To finish the yellow loop, simply continue with the yellow blazes down the steep slope through an open oak forest and met up with the double yellow blaze of the landing area spur.
The green-blazed trail is an additional two-mile section of trail and dirt road that provides an excellent overview of the Valley’s western slope. From the intersection of the yellow-blazed trail, follow the green blazes west, up the gentle slope through oak forest until the grade turns steep and rocky. From here the blazes will lead you through a large forested boulder field of stone deposited by glaciation. Along with the dramatic appearance of this section, the forest here is also quite rich, supporting many specialized plant species. Soon you’ll be at the intersection with the outlet of Ridge Road: a rough, unimproved town road. The trail follows Ridge Road down slope another mile, providing great views of the steep woodlands until meeting up with Brook Road. Turn south (right) at this intersection, following Brook Road about ¾ mile back to the landing, listening in spring for the song of Louisiana Waterthrush and Winter Wren from the hemlock hollows of Moose Brook.
Terrain: Quite steep in places. A few rocky sections. Some footbridges may be slick when wet.
Surface: Bare substrate in forest. All roads dirt.
Public or Private Land? Trails owned by East Quabbin Land Trust, roads by the Town of Hardwick.
Is route safe during hunting season? Hunting is allowed on the Moose Brook Preserve.