Pioneer Valley

Bear Swamp


312 acres

Hike three miles of trails to a nearby beaver pond and discover terrific views of hillside orchards spreading below, along with the distant Green Mountains.


Plan Your Visit
  • Overview
  • Ideas for Your Visit
  • Admission & Hours
  • Directions & Contact Info
  • Property Map
  • Regulations & Advisories


To early settlers, Bear Swamp was truly rough terrain: steep, wooded hillsides and exposed bedrock descending to boggy wetlands, and swamp. Nonetheless, all of the land was cleared for forest products, pasture, and even hay fields. But contemporary explorers will find a landscape of hard beauty, with field reclaimed by forest and the dark lowlands illuminated by colorful wildflowers in bloom.

Ideas for Your Visit

Follow three miles of trails—some steep in places—to different parts of the reservation. The aptly named Fern Glade Trail passes through carpets of ferns and wildflowers. Take the Beaver Brook Trail to where an aging stone dam supports a beaver dam. The trail to Apple Valley Overlook ends with a grand vista of apple orchards in the near distance and, on the northern horizon, the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Admission & Hours

FREE to all.

Directions & Contact Info

Hawley Road
Ashfield, MA 01330

Get directions in Google Maps

From Northampton: Take Rt. 9 West. Turn right at Cape St./Rt. 112 North. After 6 mi., turn left at Hawley Rd. Follow for 1.7 mi. to entrance and roadside parking on left.

From Pittsfield: Take Rt. 9 East/Rt. 8A North. Turn left onto Rt. 8A North/Savoy Rd. After 4.4 mi., turn right onto Rt. 116 South. After 15 mi., turn left onto Rt. 112 North. At intersection of Rt. 112, Rt. 116, and Hawley Rd. in Ashfield, follow Hawley Rd. west 1.7 mi. to entrance and roadside parking on left.

The path to the Apple Valley Overlook is opposite the main entrance.

Property Map

We recommend that you take a photo of the map on your phone so you can refer to it during your visit, or download a trail map before you head out.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Seasonal hunting is permitted at this property subject to all state and town laws. Please call 413.213.4751 or email for permit information. 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.
  • Mountain biking is not allowed.
  • Dogs must be kept on leash at all times.
  • While the property is open in the winter, note that we do not plow the parking lot.
Before Setting Out
More to Explore


Much of this rugged landscape was cleared by settlers in the 18th century for sheep pasture and other agricultural uses, while the upper slopes were logged for fuel wood and building timber. Concerned that the growing population of Ashfield would spell an end to its wild places, Esther and Philip Steinmetz began to buy land in the early 1960s and rallied other like-minded property owners to help preserve this environmental gem. A memorial plaque is found at the Apple Valley Overlook.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a gift of Rev. and Mrs. Philip H. Steinmetz in 1968. Additional land given in 1974 and 1979. Additional land given by Kathleen T. Tanner, Mabelle T. Jordan, Blanche T. Clark, and Edward G. Tatro in 1969; Mr. and Mrs. Gouverneur Morris Phelps in 1970; Mrs. Helen S. Walker in 1971; and Dr. and Mrs. Henry G. Clarke in 1974. Additional land purchased in 1997.

The View From Here
See What People Say

I went here with a birding group. The hike was short but the pond area was fabulous. It was great to see newts and salamanders in the pond as well as little fish.

83annemarieg, Trip Advisor Review

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