Trail sign for Echo Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Rocky Woods
Echo Pond, June Pond, Cedar Hill, Chickering Pond

Destinations:  Echo Pond (300'), June Pond (320'), Cedar Hill (435'), Chickering Pond
Trails:  Loop Trail, Echo Pond Trail, East and West Trail, June Pond Trail, Quarry Trail, Harwood Notch Trail, Ridge Trail, Tower Trail, Cedar Hill Trail, Noanet Trail, Chickering Pond Trail
Region:  MA - Southeast  
Rocky Woods
Location:  Medfield, MA
Rating:  Easy  
Features:  Ponds, views
Distance:  4.0 miles  
Elevation Gain:  550 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 2:00   Typical: 2:15  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 4:30   Typical: 3:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  06/02/2008 (Monday)  
Weather:  About 80 degrees, sunny
Author:  Webmaster

Echo Pond as seen from the northern shoreline (photo by Webmaster)

Route Summary   

This hike makes a wide loop through Rocky Woods which is a property of The Trustees of Reservations. It visits three ponds, travels through pleasant woods, and reaches a hilltop outlook.

The trails are well marked with vertically oriented trail name signs and numbered plaques at certain junctions that correspond to markings on the reservation's trail map. Its helpful to have this trail map in hand as you walk along if you wish to know where you're at; or you can just wander aimlessly and see where you end up.

  • From the large parking lot walk in the direction opposite from which you drove in, picking up a trail on the left near a kiosk.
  • Shortly, there will be a junction on the left signed as "Loop". Turn left onto Loop Trail and then about 10 yards later, bear left at junction #2.
  • Follow this wide trail a short ways, and then bear right at a wide fork at junction #1 which will put you onto Echo Pond Trail.
  • A short ways later you will reach the corner of Echo Pond. A wide trail bears left and a narrow path goes to the right. Turn right and follow this path as it contours the northern end of the pond.
  • Keep following the path as it veers away from the pond up a hill, bears left at a junction, and then descends back down to the shore. If you wish, at the top of the hill you can take a spur path down to the shore and then retrace your steps back to this loop trail.
  • Cross a long wooden footbridge to the other side of the pond.
  • Turn right and continue on Echo Pond Trail, which is a wide footway, through junctions #17 and #16, bearing right at junction #17.
  • Keep straight/right through junction #16 which puts you on East and West Trail.
  • Trail (photo by Webmaster)
  • At junction #15, veer right/straight on June Pond Trail and follow that around the pond through junctions #12 and #11.
  • At junction #11, keep straight/right to follow Quarry Trail up to the next intersection.
  • At junction #6, leave Quarry Trail and turn left uphill onto Harwood Notch Trail.
  • Look for a small unsigned path heading uphill on the right and follow that.
  • This little path will climb up a small hill. There are no views here in spite of what the property's map indicates but it is a pleasant area to walk through. Turn left at the top of the rise and head back downhill to rejoin Harwood Notch Trail just a short ways from where you left it.
  • Turn right and continue on Harwood Notch Trail.
  • After a bit you will see Whale Rock on your right–a huge long boulder resembling the shape of a whale.
  • Continue on Harwood Notch Trail through junction #7 and then bear right onto Ridge Trail.
  • Look for a small spur path on the right signed "vista". If you wish, you can follow this short spur to its end before retracing your footsteps back to Ridge Trail. There's supposed to be views here too but I didn't find any.
  • Continue along Ridge Trail staying straight/right at the next two junctions, and then arriving at junction #4.
  • Go straight ahead for a few strides and then turn left and head uphill on Tower Trail.
  • Bear left where the trail forks which will lead you to a semi-open area beneath white pines from which there are views southwest.
  • Continue uphill, turn right at the next junction, and then left at the junction after that which will put you on the narrow Cedar Hill Trail.
  • Follow Cedar Hill Trail steeply downhill and bear right at the base of the hill which will put you on Noanet Trail.
  • Follow Noanet Trail, ignoring lesser side paths until reaching junction #3 at Chickering Pond.
  • Turn right and follow the wide Chickering Pond Trail almost completely around the pond. Bear left through junctions #4 and #5 and through other unnumbered junctions.
  • Upon reaching an area with picnic tables, turn right, away from the pond, walking alongside the park service road back to the parking lot.

Fish in Echo Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Click for the full trail map (it will open in a new window).   

Trail map of hike at Rocky Woods (map courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations)


Raptor (photo by Webmaster)

Leaves of the sweet fern shrub (photo by Webmaster)

  Trail Guide   

I enjoyed a pleasant half-day outing at Rocky Woods on a Monday afternoon in June. Based on the 100-car parking lot I would assume this place sees a lot of activity on the weekends but I encountered only a handful of people during my stroll.

I started out on a wide trail bordered by hardwood trees and mountain laurel shrubs. Soon, I arrived at the beautiful Echo Pond. There was a small opening on the eastern side that provided a view of the pond. I turned right to follow a narrow path that ran along the northern edge with limited views through the greenery. I then arrived at an open area at the northwestern edge that offered a beautiful prospect complete with a small pier and a picnic table. The pond is surrounded by trees and shrubs with lily pads and boulders dotting the surface here and there. From the pier I could see interesting fish swimming about–they were brown with iridescent, sea green fins. Across the waterway I could see the footbridge that I would later cross.

Leaving the pier, the path headed up a hill away from the pond. At the height of land were spur paths leading back to the shore. I followed one of these paths and arrived at a small opening where there was a boulder that I had viewed from the pier. Here there were blueberry bushes in bloom.

Side trail above Harwood Notch Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Next, I wound through a neat bouldery area on my way down to the long footbridge crossing the pond. It was neat to be standing in the middle of the pond, being able to view it from several angles and getting up-close views of the lily pads. The tops of the lily pads were green and the undersides were red and thickly veined. At the far end of the bridge were some beautiful yellow irises.

Leaving Echo Pond behind, I walked through a mixture of hardwoods and white pine to arrive at the shrub-filled June Pond. There were a couple openings from which to view this "pond" which only had small sections of shrub-free water. As I walked away from the pond I could hear lots of frogs, including bullfrogs, croaking away.

Walking along Quarry Trail and then heading uphill on Harwood Notch Trail, I encountered lots of boulders and ledgy cliffs that used to be quarried for granite. Now many of them are covered with brown rock tripe, light green lichen, deep green mosses, and small ferns.

Upon passing an unmarked side path on the right, I first walked a bit farther on Harwood Notch Trail in order to catch a screened view of Notch Pond down below on the left. Then I headed up that side path through open woods carpeted by low shrubbery and punctuated by a few interesting boulders. Upon reaching the top of the ridge, the path circled back down to rejoin Harwood Notch Trail.

Yellow stargrass (photo by Webmaster)

Moving along, I soon encountered Whale Rock on the right. It's a very long boulder jutting out of the ground like a whale breaching the surface of the ocean... but there is no tail fin showing. Nevertheless, it's a neat formation and would make an interesting lunch spot with areas of both sun and shade.

Farther along the trail I discovered some yellow stargrass (Hypoxis hirsuta) blooming in the lee of a boulder. This plant has grass-like leaves topped by bright yellow, six-petaled flowers. I also encountered some sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina) which is a fragrant shrub with long, narrow, scalloped leaves.

Next, I headed uphill on Tower Trail where the footway partially consisted of what looked like shredded shingles. I then veered left on a narrow path to reach a viewpoint on Cedar Hill. I sat on a boulder and enjoyed lunch beneath white pines while looking southwest out to a sea of green trees–both hardwoods and conifers. Only a few buildings and water towers punctuated the landscape. There was some pale corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens) blooming at the base of my rock seat. This is a washed-out looking plant with light green leaves and pale pink flowers tipped by yellow. In contrast to the faded blooms, a six-spotted green tiger beetle was milling about. This little insect is a deep, shiny, metallic green–hard to miss. A bit uphill from this spot, I found the four cement blocks marking the former site of a fire tower.

View from Cedar Hill (photo by Webmaster)

I descended Cedar Hill on the steep and narrow Cedar Hill Trail which met up with Noanet Trail at the base of the hill. Here the trail became wider and passed by some areas with stone barbeques before arriving at an open viewpoint above Chickering Pond. Steps lead past grassy terraces and down to the shore. I turned right to take the long way around the pond rather than going straight ahead which would have returned me more quickly to the parking area. There was a raptor flying around this area and I later got a better look at him on the trail... he seemed to be playing games with me, flying just out of reach of a really good photo.

After making almost a full circuit of the pond I arrived at a picnic area shaded by pines with a beautiful view of the pond. Across the waterway I could see the terraced area I had visited earlier with stone walls, black metal railings, and grassy sitting areas. In spite of the inviting aspect of the water, swimming is not permitted in any of the reservation's ponds.

At this point I veered right away from the pond and traversed the more civilized sections of the park, along a service road and past a volleyball net. I soon arrived back at the parking area, completing this 4-mile loop.

Picnic area by Chickering Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Footbridge over Echo Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Six spotted green tiger beetle (photo by Webmaster)

Trail (photo by Webmaster)

MA - Southeast

  Driving Directions   

Rocky Woods is located in Medfield, Massachusetts.

Yellow iris (photo by Webmaster) From I-95:
  • From I-95, take Exit 16 for Rt. 109 West.
  • Follow Rt. 109 West for 5.7 miles.
  • Take a right hairpin turn onto Hartford Street.
  • Follow Hartford Street for 0.6 mile to the entrance and large parking area on the left.

From I-495:
  • From I-495, take Exit 19 for Rt. 109 East.
  • Follow Rt. 109 East for 11.7 miles.
  • Bear left onto Hartford Street and follow it for 0.6 mile to the entrance and large parking area on the left.

From Medfield:
  • From the intersection of Routes 27 and 109 in Medfield, follow Rt. 109 East for 1.7 miles.
  • Bear left onto Hartford Street and follow it for 0.6 mile to the entrance and large parking area on the left.


Restrooms, pavilion, picnic tables.

Other Notes   

Small fee required for non-Trustees members.

Dogs are only allowed in certain areas of the park, and must be leashed on some trails. All dogs must have a permit from The Trustees of Reservations.
  Curled lily pad showing the red underside (photo by Webmaster)


Echo Pond as seen from the footbridge (photo by Webmaster) Shrub-filled June Pond (photo by Webmaster)


  About Rocky Woods   

Rocky Woods, located in Medfield Massachusetts, is a property of The Trustees of Reservations, consisting of approximately 600 acres and encompassing a trail network of about eight miles.

The area was once logged and quarried for granite and its four ponds were originally created as fire ponds. There was once a rope tow ski area near the northwest corner of Chickering Pond. The trails run up and down small hills beneath mostly hardwood forests and some white pine with many boulders and ledges scattered about.

There is a lot to do at Rocky Woods. Hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are popular activities. Chickering Pond offers catch and release fishing and a handicapped-accessible fishing platform. There are picnic tables in a few spots, a pavilion, and a volleyball court.

The Rocky Woods reservation was originally established in 1942 with land donated by Dr. Joel E. Goldthwait. Once the preserve started, additional gifts of land expanded the acreage over the years. Land gifts were received from Moses Ellis, Krist E. Apog, William F. Spang, Robert E. Linnell, Mary and Dorothy M. Corcoran, Robert Fanger, and Michael A. Miller.

Printed trail maps are often available at kiosks located near the parking areas.

Rocky Woods
Hartford Street, Medfield, MA

Terraced lawns overlooking Chickering Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Rocky Woods Property Use Guidelines   

  • Trustees members free.
  • Nonmembers: adult $4, children (12 and under) free.
  • Fees are collected by a ranger on weekends and holidays; honor system applies at all other times. A fee deposit box is located next to the kiosk at the large parking lot.

  • Are not permitted on Sunday afternoons.
  • Must have a permit from The Trustees of Reservations.
  • Must respect off-limit, and on-leash zones.
  • Detailed dog program information can be found at the Trustees website.

Other Regulations:
  • Mountain biking is permitted only on designated trails from May 1 to February 28. Trails are closed March 1 to April 30 during muddy season.
  • Swimming and ice-skating are not permitted.
  • Camping is not permitted.
  • Reservation closes at sunset (a sign at the entrance indicates the times gates are locked).
  • Unauthorized motor vehicles are not permitted.


Whale Rock (photo by Webmaster)


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