Donald H. Bates Sanctuary

Donald H. Bates Sanctuary

“We would like the property to be named the Donald H. Bates Sanctuary. This woodlot was his sanctuary – the place he loved to go. He had it logged once, and cut his own firewood for many years. It will be a place for birds and animals to roam free forever, along with human visitors.” The Bates Family 2013


The 16-acre wooded property, a gift from the Bates family, slopes toward the east. In the 1800’s this land, like most of Leverett, was cleared and used for grazing. The forest that grew up as the fields were abandoned (probably by 1900) are predictably large pines with younger hemlock and hardwood. Since most of the later logging was done along the western edge of the property, many of the trees in the central and eastern sections date from the abandoning of the fields. It is intriguing to stand today, looking at the barbed wire so deeply embedded in the trees, and try to imagine the open fields and the young saplings being used as fence posts.

The western and central sections of the property have occasional springs and small streams draining into a laurel-covered wetland in the east. Slightly larger seasonal streams carry that water to Roaring Brook below. Historically, this brook provided the water power for most of the 17 mills in East Leverett village in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.

The southern boundary of the property borders Lancaster Pike (also call the Lancaster Cart-way and Old Lancaster Road). It was a 50-mile road built beginning in 1733 to connect Sunderland (and therefore the Connecticut River) with the eastern part of the state. Lancaster Pike is still a county road and serves as one pedestrian entrance to the property. Lancaster Pike Tour prepared by Annette Gibavic

At the eastern edge of the property is the former M-M Trail. While the 3-state trail has been moved closer to Route 202 and renamed the New England Heritage Trail, this section of the former white-dot trail provides access to the property from Shutesbury Road as it goes through the town-owned Roaring Brook Conservation Area. With funding for lumber from the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust, the Leverett Trails Committee repaired the bog bridges along this trail – now renamed the Roaring Brook Trail.

Driving Directions

  • From the Leverett Town Hall go southeast on Shutesbury Road for 1.4 miles
  • Go straight on Cushman Road for 0.1 mile
  • Go straight on Still Corner Road for 0.1 mile
  • Turn right on Cemetery Road and park by the East Leverett Cemetery
  • Walk back to the corner, go straight on January Road (which is the old Lancaster Pike Road)
  • Continue walking on Lancaster Pike passing two houses, crossing the powerline (sharp turn) to the Bates sign
  • OR you can start your walk on Shutesbury Road at the entrance to the town-owned Roaring Brook Conservation Area