18

Webster Woods and Hammond Pond

Overview

The largest conservation area in Newton is wooded, with noted rock outcroppings of Roxbury Puddingstone, brooks, ponds, wetlands, fields, and an historic woodland garden.

The middle of the woods is currently threatened by development following the purchase of 25 acres of land by Boston College in 2016.

Activities to enjoy here are walking, jogging, nature study, geology study, birding, rock climbing, and cross-country skiing.

Gooch’s Caves – These are Roxbury Conglomerate fissure caves.

Sandstone Ledges – These thick ledges alternate with Roxbury Conglomerate rock. They are sandstone formations that may have been river deposits. You can see the evidence of ripple marks, such as are made by water. Note the very long, almost vertical joints toward the westerly end of the ledges. The ledges are located west of Hammond Pond Parkway and north of the MBTA track, off the southbound lane of the Parkway. Enter the pathway about 600′ south of Beacon Street, where a loop trail circles around the ledges.

Deer Park – Mrs. Webster brought a couple of dozen deer into the area many years ago. Today no deer remain in the enclosed area of six acres. A rough, unmarked loop trail follows the outside of the fenced area. The Conservation Commission is considering the development of a trail system.

Hammond Woods and Pond – The trails and cliffs attract hikers and rock climbers. The pond, as a “great pond” (any pond larger that 10 acres) is state-owned, operated by the DCR. Its average depth is just four feet. Access is from the gravel beach on the west side of the pond, near the parking lot of The Street at Chestnut Hill shopping center. The pond and its adjoining marshes and woodlands provide valuable habitats for a diversity of wildlife, aquatic species, and native plants.

Houghton Garden – This section of the park is described on a separate page.

 

Size: 114 acres    Longest Walk: 2.0 miles    Acquired: 1916-1979

Longer Walks that include this property:
From the Charles River to Newton Centre
From Waban to Chestnut Hill

Maps

 

Trail Map


Click map for larger image

GPS Enabled Trail Map

Access City of Newton GIS Map


To see your location, press the location icon while viewing the map on your smartphone.

Owner & Administrator Websites


Photo Gallery

First three photos shown here. Click a photo to view the complete slideshow or click here to browse the complete gallery.

History

1650

Thomas Hammond began farming the eastern section.

1852

A railroad line, now the MBTA, was built. The culvert from the 1850 Hammond Brook Canal went underneath the tracks.

1896

Edwin Webster bought the land and moved the Kingsbury house to 137 Suffolk Road. The Websters lived at 307 Hammond Street.

1916

Webster gave about 85 acres of the southern half to the Commonwealth.

1935

Webster donated a seven acre playground at the end of Warren Street to the city.

1954

25 acres were sold by the state to Congregation Mishkan Tefila, after an unsuccessful lawsuit by the City of Newton that attempted to block the sale.

1968

The City of Newton used its power of eminent domain to purchase 38 acres of land in Webster Woods from the Webster estate.

1972

City bought Webster Vale. This later became the Charles Cohen Conservation Area.

2016

Congregation Mishkan Tefila sold 25 acres of Webster Woods to Boston College.

2018

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced plans to work to protect Webster Woods.

2019

Boston College starts building a road salt storage facility on the rear parking lot of its part of the woods.

Mayor Fuller proposes to use the city’s power of eminent domain to buy 17 acres of the woods.

Features

Conservation Area, Cross Country Skiing, Geologic Features, Meadow, Pond, Rock Climbing, Scenic View, Vernal Pool, Woods Trail
 

Additional Information

Newton Assessor’s Map ID: 65008 0002 and many other parcels

History and Description:

Webster Woods: A Natural Place of Memories and Discoveries, by Richard B. Primack, Professor of Biology at Boston University

Taking Care of Hammond Pond, by Jennifer Steel, Senior Environmental Planner for the City of Newton

AMC Massachusetts Trail Guide.

Exploring in and around Boston on Bike and Foot, describes a 2-mile walk in Webster Conservation Area.

Chestnut Hill Association

Birding reports

History in the Stones

Hammond Pond Woods in King’s Handbook of Newton (1889)

“So broad and sequestered and unfrequented is this lovely forest that no sounds of prosaic human life invade its cloisters, and nothing disturbs the saunterer’s reflections but the low songs of the birds, or the scampering of an occasional gray squirrel over the dry leaves.”

Wikipedia

1970s map of Hammond Woods

Rock climbing info:

RootsRated.com

Mountain Project

Recent Developments:

2003 Hammond Pond project begins

2010 Hammond Pond “Access Enhancements” Proposal

2017 goatscaping project

Save Webster Woods

 

Photographs:

Photos by John Chadis

Photos by Anne Kane

Photos on Flickr

… and more … and more … and still more