Rattlesnake Gutter Conservation Area and Trails
Rattlesnake Gutter itself is a spectacular glacial ravine that probably formed when either glacial meltwater or a temporary glacial lake exploited a fracture in the crust that had constrained the flow of water.
The town owns three properties in the Rattlesnake Gutter Area
- Rattlesnake Gutter Conservation Area was purchased for the town in 1990 with the help of the fund-raising efforts of the Friends of the Rattlesnake Gutter. (It was this Friends group that later became the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust.) This 40-acre property is the heart of The Gutter.
- Rattlesnake Hill Conservation Area was purchased by town meeting in 2011 using Community Preservation Act funding. The Rattlesnake Gutter Trust holds the Conservation Restriction. This 18-acre property is perched on top of the Rattlesnake Gutter cliffs. (Trails partially cleared, will be completed in December 2015)
- Doolittle Brook Conservation Area (6 acres) was given to the town by the Connecticut River Watershed Council to protect Doolittle Brook at the northeast corner of Montague and Cave Hill Roads.
There are also continuously protected properties:
- Rattlesnake Gutter Trust holds a Conservation Restriction on property abutting the discontinued Old Cave Hill Road and owns two properties: the Whitney Road & Marvel Family Conservation Areas
- The Paul C. Jones Working Forest (2,690 acres) has a Conservation Restriction held by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game
- From the Leverett Town Hall, turn right/north on Montague Road. Go past the library and school to Rattlesnake Gutter Road. (2 miles from Town Hall)
- Turn right and park in the pull-offs before the lower gate.
- OR from the Leverett Co-op, take Rattlesnake Gutter Road to the Paul C. Jones Working Forest kiosk. Park and walk up the hill or there is limited pull-off parking farther along the road before you get to the upper gate.
Walking Rattlesnake Gutter and the surrounding road has been a favorite outing for many years. Erastus Field’s rather imaginative painting of folks enjoying the Gutter can be found at the Leverett Library in Mary Black’s Erastus Salisbury Field, p. 23.
The Gutter section of the road is closed to vehicles. Walkers can stay on the road or can take the Loop Trail that goes north over a ridge to the discontinued Whitney and Cave Hill Roads (with inviting side trails). The Loop Trail comes out at the junction of Old Cave Hill and Rattlesnake Gutter Roads just below the lower gate. Or you can go the other way on Whitney Road up to Rattlesnake Hill – the trail is directly across from the Loop Trail – see Rattlesnake Gutter Area Trail Map.
Rattlesnake Gutter is an eBird Hotspot. (An eBird “Hotspot” must be open to the public and be a very good place to observe birds.) The Hotspot designation allows all birders to contribute observations to the database for that location. The cumulative information helps us better understand how the varied habitats are used throughout the year. Link to eBird