Quabbin Reservoir Hiking: Exploring an Abandoned Town

One of the Quabbin Reservoir hiking trails leads to Dana, MA. Dana is a former city in central Massachusetts that was disincorporated in 1938 to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir.  Parts of the city still remain even after the area was flooded to create the reservoir. The trail begins at Gate 40 and is open to the public.

The towns around the trails are also full of great things to do before or after Quabbin Reservoir hiking. 

The Journey to Quabbin Reservoir Hiking

To get there, you need to take Route 32A and pull off at Gate 40.  Route 32 and 32A are very scenic, featuring a lot of traditional New England characteristics: classic New England houses, antique shops, farm stands and cozy inns.

The Gate 40 Entrance and Parking for Quabbin Reservoir Hiking in Central MA
The Gate 40 Entrance for Quabbin Reservoir hiking up to Dana MA is easy to miss. It’s a small pull-off from the main road.

Keep watch on your gas meter, Gate 40 entrance can be difficult to find and the closest gas station in that area was a 15 minute drive to Barre.  Originally we had missed the entrance and proceeded another mile or two down the road still on the lookout for the entrance – it’s a rural area and easy to lose your bearings if you are not familiar with the town.

Seeing that we were low on gas and not sure exactly where the entrance was, we decided to Google gas stations nearby; that 15 minute drive on an almost empty tank was stressful to say the least.

A Pit Stop in the Town of Barre

The town of Barre – well this whole area around Dana – has a quaint, old-fashioned, quiet, New England feel.

It was autumn when we were there, so we passed a few weddings in big, old, stately buildings with beautiful foliage in the distance; it was picture perfect.  And of course no New England town would be complete in the fall without all the apple and pumpkin picking on old farms.

After filling up on gas, we turned around and headed back to find the Quabbin Reservoir hiking trail at Gate 40.

Finally Found the Gate 40 Quabbin Reservoir Entrance!

The turnoff point is located here, it comes upon you suddenly so pay careful attention.

View Larger Map

The Gate 40 turn off point for Quabbin Reservoir hiking up to Dana, MA
This is what the turn off point looks like from Route 32A. It comes up on you suddenly and it’s very easy to miss.

You’re looking for the big “40” painted onto the yellow barrier to know you’re in the right place.

Gate 40 entrance of the Quabbin Reservoir in Central MA.
The Gate 40 entrance (to hike up to Dana, MA) is marked with a big black “40” on the post. It’s not visible from the street though.

Quabbin Reservoir Hiking Trail up to Dana Common

The signage at the beginning of the path that leads up to Dana Common
The sign at the beginning of the path contains important information on hiking up to Dana Common in the Quabbin Reservoir

Dress accordingly! I cannot stress this enough, mosquitoes were everywhere and you need to be on the lookout for ticks as well – so wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts; bug spray is also a good investment. I didn’t think this trip through and went in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt since it was a warm, fall day – it was a big mistake.

This Quabbin Reservoir hiking excursion is about a 1.5 mile walk from the entrance to Dana Common; it’s an easy walk, mostly flat and the trail is paved.  Along the path to the Common you can see old stone walls and foundations of houses that were torn down when the town was disincorporated.

Hiking up the Quabbin Reservoir trail at Gate 40 will bring you to Dana Common
Following this Quabbin Reservoir trail will lead you to Dana Common, a big open area commemorating Dana, MA.

As you get closer to the center, the woods open up to fields of grass and a memorial stone dedicated to those inhabitants that had to leave Dana.

The memorial stone at Dana Common in Dana, MA marks what was given up.
This is the memorial stone at Dana Common. It marks what the local residents had to give up during the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir.

In the warmer months this would be a great spot for a picnic.

The open field of Dana Common at the end of the Quabbin Reservoir hiking trail.
The big, open field of Dana Common. A great spot for a picnic. It’s located a little over a mile up the Quabbin Reservoir hiking trail at Gate 40.

There’s a lot more to explore beyond the Common, but with the sun setting it was time for us to leave.  Exploring the rest of Dana is on the hot list of future adventures.

On the walk back to the car, a mother turkey with her babies crossed by the path but too quickly to snap a picture. It was very cute.

Stopping in Petersham on the Way Home

Petersham Town Hall in Petersham, MA after hiking Quabbing Reservation
The Petersham Town Hall is located in the center of town near the Country Store.

After, we made our way to Petersham and stopped in at the Country Store for some ice cream. Petersham Country Store is located in Petersham center – a beautiful downtown area that is great for relaxing or taking a stroll.

The Petersham Country Store in Petersham MA located downtain in a beautiful city square.
The Petersham Country Store in Petersham, MA sells all kinds of snacks and sandwiches. We grabbed some ice cream and enjoyed the scenery of the beautiful downtown area.

Stop by Barre, fill up your tank and enjoy the sights; hike up to Dana Commons and experience its calming silence; and finally take a break in Petersham for a snack – my recommendation for a fulfilling adventure.

Related Links:

The story of Dana, Massachusetts and the Quabbin Reservoir

Petersham Country Store

Quabbin Gate 40

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge