Middlesex Fells Reservation

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Middlesex Fells Reservation
Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston
Bridge crossing 18th-century dam
on Spot Pond Brook
Nickname: The Fells
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Cities/towns Malden, Medford, Melrose,
Stoneham, Winchester
Elevation 187 ft (57 m) [1]
Coordinates 42°26′51″N 71°06′21″W / 42.44750°N 71.10583°W / 42.44750; -71.10583Coordinates: 42°26′51″N 71°06′21″W / 42.44750°N 71.10583°W / 42.44750; -71.10583 [1]
Area 2,283 acres (924 ha) [2]
Established 1893
Management Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
 - Park headquarters Botume House,
4 Woodland Road,
Location in Massachusetts
Website: Middlesex Fells Reservation
The John Botume House, which serves as the park's visitor center.

Middlesex Fells Reservation, often referred to simply as the Fells, is a public recreation area covering more than 2,200 acres (890 ha) in Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester, Massachusetts. The state park surrounds two inactive reservoirs, Spot Pond and the Fells Reservoir, and the three active reservoirs (North, Middle, and South) supplying the town of Winchester. Spot Pond and the Fells Reservoir are part of the Wachusett water system, one of six primary water systems that feed metropolitan Boston's waterworks. The park is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and is part of the Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston.[3]


The area around Middlesex Fells is known to have been explored by John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1632.[3] The reservation's lands have been used for the production of timber, granite, and ice. Abundant water power meant that many mills, including one that manufactured some of the first vulcanized rubber products, were located here. Remnants of early mill works are visible in the Spot Pond Archeological District, located in the Virginia Woods section, the site of the former mill village of Haywardville.

The reservation was initiated in 1891 with the donation of Virginia Wood to The Trustees of Reservations by Fannie Tudor as a memorial to her daughter, Virginia, who had died in a horse riding accident in the forest. The property was later donated to the Metropolitan District Commission in 1923.[4] In 1893, the state took the property over and began managing it as a state park.

At some point in the 1800s or earlier, a stone tablet was erected on Great Island, which reads "WHERE SHUTE FELL". There are several contradictory stories explaining the significance of this phrase.[5]

Boston Regional Medical Center was located within the Reservation along Woodland Road in Stoneham, until it closed in February 1999.[6]

Historic status[edit]

In addition to being a state park, portions of the park and structures within it are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The entire area surrounding Spot Pond to the east of I-93 is within the Middlesex Fells Reservoirs Historic District, and the roadways in the park and on its borders are listed as the Middlesex Fells Reservation Parkways. The park's visitor center on Woodland Road in Stoneham is in the historic John Botume House, which is not far from the 1906 Metropolitan District Commission Pumping House. Historically important archaeological sites in the park are listed as part of the Spot Pond Archeological District. Roadways connecting the park to other elements of the Metropolitan Park System are also listed; these include the Fells Connector Parkways, which connect the park to the Mystic River Reservation in Winchester, and the Lynn Fells Parkway, connecting the park to the Breakheart Reservation in Saugus.

Activities and amenities[edit]

The reservation has over 100 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. Trailheads are accessible from Interstate 93 at exits 33 and 34, and 35 Southbound. Fishing is offered on Dark Hollow Pond. Other facilities include picnicking areas, an observation tower, and a tot lot. A concessionaire offers sailing lessons and rentals of kayaks, canoes, pedal boats and row boats on Spot Pond during summer.[7] Rock climbing is also popular in the Fells.[3]

Sheepfold Meadow[edit]

Sheepfold Meadow is an open field of 10 acres located in Stoneham, Massachusetts as a part of the Middlesex Fells Reservation that is now used by dog walkers and picnickers.[8] Sheepfold Meadow is normally known as Sheepfold. Many people come to Sheepfold on nice days and unleash their dog to run, walk or play. This area is open to the public from 9 am to dusk.[8] There is parking for Sheepfold off of Rte. 28,[8] on busier days people will park their cars along the street before the entrance. Outside of Sheepfold in the reservation, dogs must be on leash at all times. In the designated area within Sheepfold, people may have their dogs off leash.[8] Dogs at Sheepfold must be trained well enough to listen to their owners by voice command.[8] All dog waste and other litter associated with the animals or owners must be disposed of properly. If your dog is aggressive you may not want to bring them to Sheepfold due to its growing popularity and the freedom that the dogs have to interact with each other. Sheepfold is a very open area that has become a friendly space for pet owners to bring their dogs.


  1. ^ a b "Middlesex Fells Reservation". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "2012 Acreage Listing" (PDF). Department of Conservation and Recreation. April 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Middlesex Fells Reservation". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Middlesex Fells Planning Unit Resource Management Plan" (PDF). Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. p. 26. Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ Annear, Steve (June 20, 2016). "One clue in a marker’s mystery: ‘Where Shute fell’". Boston Globe. 
  6. ^ Trager, Ellen Lutch (February 22, 1999). "BRMC's closure harbinger of things to come". Boston Business Journal. Boston: American City Business Journals. 
  7. ^ "Spot Pond". Boating in Boston. Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Energy and Environmental Affairs". The Official Website of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 19 April 2017. 

External links[edit]