Where We Went: Bullitt Reservation in Ashfield/Conway MA

When We Went: Mid-May 2020

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10): 1.5 Boots

Trail Length: Pebble Trail 0.5 miles, Meadow Path 0.5 miles

How Long it Took Us: 2 Hours

Overview: Bullitt Reservation, owned by the Trustees of Reservations, is over 265 acres of fields and forest on the northwestern edge of the Connecticut River Valley. Once Ashfield’s Town Farm to house the poor, this blend of fields, farm buildings, mixed woodlands, and streams was once home to 13 dispossessed persons before its sale in 1874. This practice was common in the 19th century. Poor farms would frequently provide shelter to the elderly and disabled. The residents often worked the farm and helped raise the livestock with the bulk of the financing provided by town funds. The farms fate would then go from rags to riches, becoming the country estate of the first US ambassador to the Soviet Union, William C. Bullitt and family, renaming the property Apple Hill Farm. Oh the stories we’d hear if this land could talk! Richard Nixon once visited here in the 1950’s, canoeing around Ashfield Pond with Bullitt while he was Vice President! Bullitt’s exploits as ambassador are worth a deeper drive (Click here to read about the infamous Spring Festival at Spaso House), and later in life he would co-write a book with Sigmund Freud slandering Woodrow Wilson!

Bullitt’s daughter, Anne Moen Bullitt would donate their former farm to the Trustees and it would open to the public in October of 2010. Two short loop trails, each about a half-mile long, are perfect for walking and snowshoeing. The Meadow Path, skirts the crest of the hill in front of the barns. The Pebble Trail, is slightly longer, and steeper than Meadow, winding through the woods, fields and a beaver pond along Bullitt Road. 

What We Dug: I don’t think you could there be a more perfect picnic spot than Bullitt Reservation. Between the tree-dotted hillside, the fragrant breeze of the expansive fields, and the plentiful bird sightings, we passed a memorable hour over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Afterwards, a short path up the hill took us to the head of the Pebble Trail. The trail is named for a sight along the way, a glacial erratic (big boulder), called the “pebble,” hiding among the pine trees. A hit with the kids, they spent most of our hike clambering up rock after rock, and leaping with abandon. There are some impressively large trees scattered along the trail and the views from the top of the meadow are not to be missed. If you’re looking to stretch out your day for a longer hike, the Two Bridges Trail connects to Chapel Brook reservation also in Ashfield. 

What We Could Do Without: The parking lot is small and can fill up very quickly. Bullitt Reservation is a popular place to explore and the trails are narrow. Please follow all guidelines when hiking here. If the lot is crowded, consider heading to Bear Swamp or Chapel Brook instead. Click here for the Trustees COVID-19 hiking best practices. 

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Deer, fox, coyote, wild turkey, moose, eastern swallow, black bear, orchid, butterfly, sugar maple, apple trees, Valley Forge elm, elderberry, Joe Pye weed, New England aster, Solomon seal, glacier erratics 

Must Know Before You Go’s: Free. Seasonal hunting is permitted at this property subject to all state and town laws.Wear bright colors when hiking in the November to December deer hunting season; avoid wearing or carrying anything that is white. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays. Leashed dogs allowed. Always follow Leave No Trace principles. 

Directions : 332 Bullitt Road, Ashfield/Conway, MA 01330

From Points North: From I-91, Exit 25, take Rt. 116 West approx. 10 mi. through Conway and into Ashfield. Turn left onto Bullitt Rd., proceed approx. 1 mi. (pavement turns to dirt) towards a driveway and white buildings on right where road turns sharply left. Note: Do not take North Poland Road to Bullitt Rd. It is an unmaintained road that is not passable for much of the year.

From Points South: From I-91, Exit 24, take Rt 5 North. After 1.1 mi., turn left onto Rt. 116 West. Follow approx. 10 mi. through Conway and into Ashfield. Follow
directions above from Bullitt Rd. Note: Do not take North Poland Road to Bullitt Rd. It is an unmaintained road that is not passable for much of the year.

GPS 42.502257 -72.756001

Website: thetrustees.org

Resources: Trail Map, “Bears in the Caviar” by Charles Thayer, Master & Margarita