Indian Hill Reservoir
Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury is one of my one favorite places to take a dog walk. If you are out exploring this area and don’t know if this is worth your time to get out of the car I can share this is an easy 1 mile walk along the water’s edge. This reservoir provides 80% of Newburyport’s drinking water and the land was “taken” by eminent domain in the 1970’s. While this was a “taking” by the government the land owners involved were, for the most part in favor of the project. There were 3 families involved Alice Elwell, the family of Edward Mosley and the Sawyers. All in all the reservoir is about 90 acres. The road that hugs this reservoir was essentially the same as it has always been but is was re-routed just a bit to make it safe.
Prior to the reservoir the land was a wet swampy marsh area because it is part of the artichoke water shed so, this water now feeds into the Artichoke River.
As a byproduct of this project the water draws a lot of birds to the area and one bird species the warbler is noted for returning here year over year. There are over 50 type of warblers that come in a variety of colors. These birds do not feed on seed but rather insects so the wooded area along with some of the marshy land that abuts this area is prime habitat. When walking here you really don’t notice the insects unless it is dusk then the gnats can get a little intense.
The National Park service has a branch within the park service that identifies nationally significant heritage areas all over our country. This reservoir is a National Significant area with in the Essex National Heritage sites and is known as Cherry Hill Reservoir. They call it that because there was a farm call Cherry Hill adjacent to the reservoir. So, for a lot of people it gets confusing because there are two names for the same area. Most of the locals and the Greenbelt organization call this reservoir Indian Hill Reservoir and that name goes back to the earliest Atlases for this area that are recorded at the Registry of Deeds.
The Greenbelt organization, a non-profit, piggy backed on the City of Newburyport with the goal to preserve the area around the reservoir and continues conservation efforts by purchasing land along the Artichoke watershed. This area is known as West Newbury’s own emerald necklace. It is comprised of 315 acres and is a ribbon of protected open space and public trails that showcase the region’s natural beauty and rich cultural history. This network of protected properties provided an expansive and varied landscape that allows visitors to walk for hours on interconnected trails. The Indian hill Conservation Area features wetlands, open meadows full of wild flowers, woodlands with towering oak trees and maple trees. There are walking trail maps on the website show the reservoir area can be accessed via South Street in Newbury, Moulton in West Newbury and Indian Hill in Newbury.
Maple Crest Farm
If you start your walk as I am off Moulton off to the right is the backside of Maple Crest Farm. This farm has been a family farm for over 100 years. Initially with Alice Elwell ran the farm. Her property was taken as part of the reservoir project however she was paid about 80k for the land. She was unmarried and has passed the farm down to her nephews where John Elwell a retired educator now runs the farm. She raised turkeys and there also have been chickens that have been on the farm too. Now the farm mostly offers berries and vegetables in the summer and Christmas Trees in the winter. The Elwells have kept this farm in the family for over 100 years and with 9 grandchildren they are hoping the tradition continues.
Continuing down to the end of the paved and gravel path you can turn up to the right and walk about 50 yards where you will see two head stones. These are Jacob and Judith Sawyer who owned the farm next to the Elwells. Their property was part of the taking however the balance of the farm was acquired by the Green belt organization. Their field is an example of the meadows and there is a nice view of the water.
Continue on the dirt path to the end where to the right the trail will climb up a hill. You will pass a stone wall and come to the top. Should you go up over the hill and back down the other side you will end up on Indian Hill Road. There is parking on Indian Hill if you want to do the walk in reverse.
Most of the time there are people walking, horses on trail rides, and mountain bikes but the most popular are people walking dogs. Just as always they say to have your dog on a leash and to pick up after them. Often times you can let your dog run off leash too.
I hope you will continue to explore Dog Walking on the North Shore in Massachusetts with me!
If you are thinking about your home search, exploring the Newbury, Newburyport Area please reach out to me where we buy and sell every home as it is our own. We can be reached at 978-877-2873