Long Hill Natural Area
Long Hill is on the northwest side of Echo Lake (Leverett Pond). The natural area’s thirty-six acres include the crest of the hill from which spectacular views of the town center, the lake, the southern spread of the Pioneer Valley and the hills to both east and west can be enjoyed. RGT maintains trails that climb to this crest from Camp Road and meander around the property.
The Rattlesnake Gutter Trust accepted ownership of the Long Hill Natural Area on October 25, 1993 from the Valley Land Fund, which acted as an interim holder for the Long View Alliance, a group of Leverett residents interested in preserving the hill from development. In the two and a half years following the initial purchase, LVA raised funds from over 50 residents of Leverett, and was assisted by the VLF, RGT, and Kestrel Trust. In accepting ownership, the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust agreed to preserve Long Hill in a natural and undeveloped state for passive recreational uses.
The property consists of approximately 36 acres covering the top of the hill and its flanks from the northwest around to the southeast. There is frontage on the north side of Long Hill and Camp Roads and a small piece of attached property lies between the south side of Camp Road and Leverett Pond. Looking northwest from Leverett’s Town Hall, Long Hill (elevation 662’) constitutes the predominate view rising over 240 feet out of Leverett Pond (elevation 417’). We are fortunate to have both nineteenth and twentieth century photographs of this view.
Following a gentle trail off Camp Road one climbs through a predominately hemlock forest to the summit. From here, as the photographs show, the pond and town center appear in miniature, and the view of the south stretches over the hills and dales of the Pioneer Valley to the distant Holyoke Range. As the leaves begin to fall other views open up to the west revealing Bull Hill and Mt. Toby. The land just below the summit is protected by a Conservation Restriction held by Rattlesnake Gutter Trust. We thank the property owner for protecting this land in perpetuity. (As you may know, all Conservation Restrictions are protected in perpetuity. The ownership remains with the property owner and the protection is transferred from one owner to the next forever. A CR can be held by a land trust, town, state, or federal government. As with all Conservation Restrictions, please respect the rights of the land owner.)
Descending the hill on its northeast slope through the darkness of the mature hemlock forest one eventually enters a deciduous forest of oaks, maples and birch. This lowland forest gives way to red maple stands interspersed with vernal pools of dark water and an occasional seep adjoining the wetlands of Leverett Pond’s north end. Because the Long Hill Natural Area encircles a good portion of the hill, differences in exposure and elevation have created a diversity of habitats.
We have been very fortunate to have volunteers serving as trail stewards and completing a variety of projects including filling in a well on the property, maintaining the trail to check erosion, clearing brush along the trail and at the southern view on the summit. Planned projects include additional brush clearing, creating a trail which would link the summit with the trail around the north end of the pond, keeping an inventory of forest mortality and experimenting with creating small clearings in the hemlock forest to encourage floral and faunal diversity.
- From Leverett Town Hall heading south, bear right onto Depot Road at the Leverett Family Museum (old library).
- Leverett Pond will be on your right/north.
- At the stop sign, turn right onto Long Hill Road.
- After 0.5 miles, bear right on Camp Road.
- The sign and a small pull-off area for the trail will be a short distance on your left.
The summit of Long Hill with its view of Leverett Pond and the Holyoke Range can be reached by following a gentle trail off Camp Road through a predominately hemlock forest. New trails loop the summit with a view of Mount Toby and explore the northeast side of Long Hill.