A Guide to Trails in Concord, Massachusetts

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Concord Trail Guide: An Invitation to Enjoy Some of Our Favorite Nature Walks

CConcord has long been a community that cherishes the great outdoors. This past year of the COVID pandemic has made our connection to nature even stronger, with hiking, biking, running, and walking outside becoming an important source of relief to long and lonely days of isolation. The discovery of new and fascinating trails has been a real pleasure – and will surely endure even as we are able to gather safely once more.

To help us all get out and explore more of our beautiful town and surroundings, we partnered with Concord’s Division of Natural Resources to put together highlights of some of our favorite walking trails. Dogs are welcome on many of these trails (either on leash or under firm verbal control –please check individual trail rules for details), but please be responsible and remove any pet waste so that all may continue to enjoy these trails.

Each of these beautiful trails has something special to offer, and we hope you will explore them all! Ready to start? Just scan the QR code next to the trail description with the camera on your phone and be connected with an online map to guide your way. Enjoy!


With 118 acres of terrain along walking paths ranging from a half hour to a 50-minute trek, there is a lot to explore here. Climb to the top of Annursnac hill and enjoy the clear view of Concord from 361 feet up. Trails invite you to discover ruined buildings from WWII, the remains of a downed radio tower from when the site was used as an antenna research and test site, a path along the Tennessee Gas Pipeline right-of-way, a babbling brook, hilly woodlands, and swampy lowlands.

The nearby Black Horse Place is a nod to this area’s history.

The Robbins Family Farm was established by John Robbins (the Captain of Acton’s Minuteman Company at the time of the American Revolution) in the 1700s. His grandson Webster Robbins was a purveyor of horses.

Your trusted guides on the trail to and from home
Wooded Path at Walden Pond
©Alexander Farnsworth Photo courtesy of Concord Division of Natural Resources


Literary fans will appreciate this unique opportunity to combine a delightful stroll outdoors with the chance to see both the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the site of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond. Other points of interest include the Heywood Meadow, a stroll through the wet, low-lying area along Mill Brook, and a view of the “Ice House” where various companies since 1906 supplied block ice until refrigeration became commonly available. Connections to other popular trails are accessible as well. With a walking time of 40 to 60 minutes each way, hikers are wise to bring water (and bug spray) for this lovely amble through history, literature, and nature.


With three different loops ranging from 20 minutes to an hour, hikers will discover the Brister Freeman Homesite (home of a formerly enslaved man in the late 1700s), Brister’s Spring (documented by Thoreau), and Fairyland Pond (where Thoreau, Emerson, and the Alcott girls would go on berry-picking trips). A trail connects the town forest with Brister’s Hill, an 18-acre site stewarded by The Walden Woods Project. There, a one-mile, interpretive loop trail highlights Thoreau’s environmental and social reform legacy through quotations from Thoreau and other prominent leaders and thinkers that are incised in granite markers and in stones at a “Reflection Circle.”


Forty-five acres of land stand as permanent testimony to Concord’s agrarian past in this beautiful, open, rolling hilltop setting, thanks to the work of the Concord Land Conservation Trust, the Trust of Public Land, and the Concord Natural Resources Commission. In 1998, they worked together to purchase the remaining land from what was originally a 300-acre farm. Today, trail enthusiasts can enjoy a 30-minute or 45-minute walk that includes rolling fields, a visit to the wooden stave tank water tower that dates back to the 1920s, views of the Captain Charles Miles House built in the early 1700s, a glimpse of the Bobolink nesting grounds (dogs must be kept on leash here, to protect these grassland birds during nesting season), as well as beautiful views of the Sudbury River. Be sure to take a moment to explore Jennie Dugan Brook – named after the second wife of Thomas Dugan, a selfemancipated African American man from Virginia. The Dugans farmed their seven acres along this area, and were a significant influence on the community. Their son, George Dugan, was the only Concordian of African descent to serve in the Civil War. He gave his life for his country, as part of the 54th Regiment, at the attack on Fort Wagner in South Carolina.


The terrain that comprises the Old Rifle Range Conservation Land, too hilly and swampy for farming, had a distant past as a rifle range in the early 1900s. No longer active as a shooting range, this trail tracks along the side of a wooded ridge, passing the remains of four target berms that were built here a century ago. The wetlands section on the opposite side of the range is known as Ministerial Swamp (named for wood lot set aside for the Minsters of the First Parish Church in the 1600s). If you look carefully, you might catch a glimpse of an extremely rare climbing fern first documented by Henry David Thoreau in 1851.

The mixed landscape, together with crumbling concrete berms and rusting steel targets, frames evokes images of Concord Volunteer Militia and of WWI soldiers training before leaving for the front. A walk along this trail takes about 30 minutes each way.


This trail provides some fascinating insights into the war manufacturing history of Concord. In 1835, Nathan Pratt converted a sawmill into a gunpowder manufacturing operation. Milling, mixing, graining, and glazing were housed in separate buildings as

Brister’s Spring Ralph Waldo Emerson Wikipedia commons Photo courtesy of Concord Division of Natural Resources

a precaution in this highly dangerous industry. The hilly, glacial terrain and many kettle holes found in the surrounding area provided natural barriers and isolation of the different stages of production. If one building exploded, it was less likely that the entire operation would follow suit. Buildings were constructed of heavy wooden beams pinned together with thick steel rods. The exterior walls and roofs were intentionally lightweight so that the walls would blow out in the event of an explosion (infrequent, but deadly when it did occur) – leaving the core structure intact. Together with other facilities in Acton, Maynard, and Sudbury, the powder mills produced 1000 lbs. of gunpowder per day during the American Civil War.

This 35-minute walk provides glimpses of powder mill ruins, old mill rails that once supported the horse-drawn carts carrying raw materials and product, and traces of the roads that connected the buildings.


One of the most iconic nature walks in the Concord area, Walden Pond provides an enchanting combination of ecology, literature, and history. Walden ‘pond’ is actually a 102-foot-deep kettle hole – formed by a melting glacier more than 12,000 years ago. It is Massachusetts’ deepest natural body of fresh water.

There are several walking trails around Walden Pond, including side trails that will bring you to the site of the cabin where Henry David Thoreau famously spent two years, two months, and two days living simply in nature and discovering what it could teach him. In addition to several trail options, visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim or a (non-motorized) boating adventure. The

Walden Pond State Reservation is an extremely popular destination in the warm summer months. To protect this precious natural resource, the park closes to the public once it reaches a set capacity – so please check the website or twitter feed for updates before heading out for your next adventure here.


For a brisk, 25-minute walk, head to this conservation area in West Concord to enjoy a 21-acre haven of woodland and marsh in this mixed commercial and high-density residential area. This pretty park was revitalized in 2014, when trails were cleared and blazed, invasive plants removed, and new access developed through Warner Woods from Laws Brook Road. The topography of this trail varies greatly, from the high ground of Pigeon Hill to the large bogs 60 feet below. A small parking lot and an information kiosk can be found on Conant Street.


Formed by the same glacier responsible for Walden Pond, this 39.68-acre kettle pond is adjacent to the White Pond Reservation in West Concord. The terrain here consists of glacial till with steep banks down to the water. Please stay on the marked trails to avoid erosion of these sandy soils, which are populated with pine, oak, hemlock, and birch trees. Nature lovers will enjoy the plethora of wildlife to be found here. Mammals include deer, coyote, fox, racoon, red and grey squirrels, chipmunk, and skunk. Painted turtles, frogs, salamanders, tree frogs and water snakes are among the reptiles and amphibians to be found. And birds are abundant – from herons, ducks, and kingfishers, to the less commonly spotted wood ducks, osprey, and even bald eagle.

While Henry David Thoreau is almost synonymous with Walden Pond, he was very familiar with – and greatly admired- White Pond as well. He once wrote, “…perhaps the most attractive, if not the most beautiful of all our lakes, the gem of the woods, is White Pond.” This area remains a true gem, with Concord Conservation Land and Town land providing more than 70 acres of welldeveloped hiking trails for all to enjoy.

These are just a few of the many beautiful places to walk or hike in Concord. If you’re looking for additional fascinating places to explore, drop by the Concord Visitor Center at 58 Main Street, where you can pick up individual trail maps. You can also purchase a copy of Ecology Along Concord Trails: Exploring Fourteen Areas by Richard T.T. Forman, Delia R.J. Kaye, and Robert White. For e-access to

Your trusted guides on the trail to and from home
full edition
the Discover Concord 2021 Guide
the Great Outdoors, visit discoverconcordma.com
trails to you!
Wikipedia commons F.J. Taylor, Photographer, Boston, Mass., “Smokeless Powder Millsca 1910,” Maynard Historical Society Archives
Powder Mill

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