Webster Woods and Hammond Pond
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 was threatened by development following the purchase of 25 acres of land by Boston College in 2016. But in 2019 the City Council unanimously voted to take the 17 wooded acres of the Boston College land by eminent domain, assuring its permanent protection.
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 in the southwest section of the conservation area. Several marked trails pass by them.
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. No deer have lived in this mostly fenced area of six acres since 2010. In 2023, the Conservation Commission opened two gates in the fence and established a half-mile walking trail.
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: 131 acres Longest Walk: 2.0 miles Acquired: 1916-2019
From the Charles River to Newton Centre
From Waban to Chestnut Hill
Webster Woods/Hammond Pond Trails
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Get here by MBTA:
a 0.5 mile walk from Newton Center Station, or a 0.5 mile walk from Chestnut Hill Station
Other maps and aerial photos:
GPS Enabled Trail Map
To see your location, press the location icon while viewing the map on your smartphone. If the blue location dot doesn’t appear when you open the map, come back to this page and click here.
Owner & Administrator Websites
First three photos shown here. Click a photo to view the complete slideshow or click here to browse the complete gallery.
Thomas Hammond began farming the eastern section.
A railroad line, now the MBTA, was built. The culvert from the 1850 Hammond Brook Canal went underneath the tracks.
Edwin Webster bought the land and moved the Kingsbury house to 137 Suffolk Road. The Websters lived at 307 Hammond Street.
The Commonwealth purchased land adjacent to Hammond Pond from John Lowell. Edwin Webster gave about 100 acres of the southern half to the Commonwealth. Read a history of the land written from Webster’s perspective.
Webster donated a seven acre playground at the end of Warren Street to the city.
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.
The City of Newton used its power of eminent domain to purchase 38 acres of land in Webster Woods from the Webster estate.
City bought Webster Vale. This later became the Charles Cohen Conservation Area.
Congregation Mishkan Tefila sold 25 acres of Webster Woods to Boston College.
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced plans to work to protect Webster Woods.
Boston College built a road salt storage facility on the rear parking lot of its part of the woods. Mayor Fuller proposed using the city’s power of eminent domain to buy the 17 undeveloped acres of the BC land. Newton City Council unanimously approves the taking of 17 acres of Webster Woods.
The former Deer Park north of the MBTA tracks was opened to public use after the creation of a loop trail.
Birding, Boat Launch, Conservation Area, Cross Country Skiing, Geologic Features, MBTA Green Line, Meadow, Pond, Rock Climbing, Scenic View, Vernal Pool, Woods Trail
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
Exploring in and around Boston on Bike and Foot, describes a 2-mile walk in Webster Conservation Area.
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:
2003 Hammond Pond project begins
2010 Hammond Pond “Access Enhancements” Proposal
Photos on Flickr … and more … and more … and still more
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