About the Town Forest
The Northfield Town Forest is a 150-acre conservation and passive recreation area with a 2.2-mile loop trail.
This property was purchased in 2010 with National Forest Legacy funds, and donated to the town. The Northfield Conservation Commission is responsible for managing the conservation restriction and stewardship plan.
From the trailhead kiosk follow the yellow blazes northwest across the power line to the trail junction. The clockwise (left) direction goes to the trail high point and down past cliffs. Turn right at the north end and take the logging road back to the beginning.
The trail was designed in 2013 by Bob Pasteris and Harry Sharbaugh, and built as an Eagle Scout project.
Directions to the parking area
From the junction of Maple Street and Main Street in Northfield, go east on Maple Street about 3.2 miles (Maple Street becomes Gulf Road after about 1.1 miles) to the kiosk at the top of the mountain on the right (south side) of Gulf Road.
The parking area serves the Town Forest, Brush Mountain, Bald Hills, and New England Trail.
Wildlife and tracks spotted in this area include bear, bobcat, fisher, and deer. There are several vernal pools on the property, and there were reportedly timber rattlesnakes in the past, though they are likely extirpated now.
Calvin Swan (1799-1875), a free black man, and his family had a homestead and sawmill here. You can see cellar holes and a spring not far from the trailhead. Calvin was a well-respected man at a time when African Americans were not well integrated into white society. Here he purchased land, served on the school board, and helped found the mountain chapter of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Swan helped build some of the homes on Main Street Northfield, and soon was able to establish his own saw mill and carpentry business.
Stones in the Woods
Along with colonial stone constructions on the Brush Mountain Conservation area, there are also stone groupings, and evidence of quarrying of surface boulders. The majority of the previous Methodist community is on private property, but one additional cellar hole can be seen from the town trail on the right, just after the power lines in the Town Forest. This cellar hole, the structures associated with the Swan Family, and all stone structures in the town of Northfield are protected as cultural resources and should not be disturbed.