Walking the Dog

Suburban Walks > Fairhaven Hill

Photo Collage

There is a lot to see on Fairhaven Hill. This photo collage presents some of the sights you might encounter on a Fairhaven Hill walk. These include: Walden Pond, a mansion, landscaped private roads, pets, southward-facing cliffs, a view to the south, liverwort, a garter snake, pine needles sorted by heavy rains, a spirit circle, flooded paths, a well house, and signs of hunting.

Walden Pond Entrance Walden Pond Mansion Concord Land Conservation Trust Sign Juliet Cliff Ice Cliff Crevice and Basalt Dike View from Cliff Top Cow Path to Farm at Walden Woods Fairhaven Bay Liverwort on the Cliff Path along the River Edge Landscaped Private Road Snake near the Wellhouse Pine Needles Sorted by Heavy Rain Spirit Circle Path Entering Shallow Flooded Area Flooded Path Covered by Deep Water Wellhouse

2008 Deer Hunting Schedule Stand for Hunting Deer


Fairhaven Hill is an area of about 600 acres in Concord, Massachusetts. Of the 600 acres, about 400 acres is conservation land. As shown on the image below, the largest area of conservation land on Fairhaven Hill is Wright Woods. Looking again at the image, Fairhaven Hill is bounded by Route 2 on the north, a railroad, the MBTA Fitchburg Commuter Line, on the northeast, Lincoln on the southeast, the Sudbury River on the southwest, and Sudbury Road on the west. Conservation land (gray blue), and some trails (dashed-brown line) are shown. For other details of Fairhaven Hill see Maps.

Fairhaven Base Map

Riverside Loop Walk

A typical walk for me includes parking in the lot off Sudbury Road (near the arrow on map above). There are no restrictions on dogs, so I walk with my dog up the paved road to the Concord pumping station (blue dot). From there, I turn toward the southeast and walk along the Sudbury River. I pass the mansion formerly owned by the Binney family.

Mansion(Click on the picture to see enlarged image.)

The path runs along the river.

River Path

Farther along the riverside path one gets a good view of Fairhaven Bay.

Fairhaven Bay

I continue along the river almost all the way to the Lincoln town line. From there, I follow the path (dashed-brown line) to the north and northeast until I reach the railroad track and the entrance to Walden Pond.

Walden Sign Walden View

As you can see, dogs are not allowed in the Walden Pond Reservation. I met a dog walker who had taken her dog into the Walden Pond Reservation where she was told that she would be fined $200 the next time she brought her dog into the reservation.

I proceed northwest along the marked path (dashed-brown line) to the point where the conservation land (gray-blue) ends. I turn left onto a path that leads back to the Concord pumping station and the parking lot. Along the way, one crosses two landscaped private roads.

Private Road

Near here one can see that October, November and December are the months for hunting deer. This sign indicates that there is no hunting on Sundays. Another sign indicates that there is no hunting between 9 am and 3 pm on other days of the week. In any case, it is a good idea to wear some fluorescent orange clothing that will serve to distinguish you from a deer.

Deer Hunting Notice Deer Hunting Stand

Depending on how many people I talk to along the way, this walk takes about an hour and a half.

The Cliff

The largest cliff on Fairhaven Hill is about 200 feet above mean sea level (msl) at the trail along the base. The top edge of the cliff is about 330 feet msl. The Concord Land Conservation Trust owns land (indicated in pink) that reaches to the top edge of the cliff.

Fairhaven Cliff

There are paths from the left and the right side of the cliff face. I climbed to the top of the cliff on a dry, sunny day to minimize my chance of slipping. Still, I had to use extreme care in choosing my footing. Near the top, one passes through a crevice that coincides with a weathered basalt dike.

Basalt Dike

There is a good view from the top.

Cliff View

Having followed me to the top, my dog, Juliet, followed me back down the crevice. It was easy to tell that this had been quite a challenge for her.

Cliff Dog

On a December return trip to the cliff, I encountered striking ice formations.

Cliff Ice

The Walk to Mt. Misery

If you have half a day to spare, it is possible to complete a round trip from Fairhaven Hill to Mt. Misery in Lincoln on to Route 117 and back to the parking lot on Sudbury Road in Concord. For information on the Mt. Misery conservation area in Lincoln, you can purchase a copy of "A Guide to Conservation Land in Lincoln" from the Massachusetts Audubon Society Drumlin Farm Sanctuary on Route 117 in Lincoln. You should note that there are two features of Mt. Misery that may affect your trip. First, Mt. Misery is very crowded on summer and autumn weekends. Second, dogs must be leashed on many of the trails.

I have made the trek to Mt. Misery twice. The trails cross private land in Lincoln, presumably on easements obtained by the town. Topography is varied. The walk is most pleasant.

For detailed directions to Mt. Misery, see GPS Data.

Miscellaneous Things

My list of miscellaneous things includes: a cow path, liverwort, sorted pine needles, flooded paths, and a spirit circle. The cow path leads from the Farm at Walden Woods on Route 2 across a dam on a small stream and on to the Bear Garden Hill conservation area. This is the easiest way to cross from the farm stand over to the rest of the Fairhaven Hill trails.


I encountered liverwort on the cliff near the basalt dike.


Sorted pine needles are not something I see very often. I saw them only once on the day I took this picture on Fairhaven Hill. As I was trying to take pictures of the pine needles next to a private dirt road, my dog, Juliet, kept getting in the way. Then, when a car approached, she ran up to the front bumper. The exceedingly courteous driver allowed me to collect Juliet, leash her, and attach the leash to a sapling. As she whined, I documented the sorted pine needles with a series of photos.

Sorted Pine 

On a December day after a major rainfall event, I decided to see if I could walk the riverside loop. About a quarter mile after the Concord pumping station, I encountered a spring flowing from the hill on the left and then along the path until it merged with the river. I managed to walk along the side of the trail. Farther on, at Fairhaven Bay, the trail was submerged. First, the trail was covered by a few inches of water. Then, the trail was truly impassable. If you click on the second small picture below, you will see the full-size image. If you look carefully, you will see a little white disk denoting this as a Concord Land Conservation Trust path. The path is on the right side of that tree in a foot or more of water. I took the road up the hill and then eventually crossed over toward Walden Pond before I returned to the parking lot on Sudbury Road.

Water Edge Path Submerged Path

My final miscellaneous item is a Spirit Circle. It is located in a hemlock grove near a main trail. I do not know who created the Spirit Circle and I do not know its true significance. It has been there for several months.

Spirit ircle


Adams Woods is a conservation area straddling the Concord-Lincoln town line between Fairhaven Bay and the railroad. The map is copied from "A Guide to Conservation Land in Lincoln". Note the high quality of the map. This guide may be purchased from the Massachusetts Audubon Society Drumlin Farm Sanctuary on Route 117 in Lincoln. Note the North arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the map. This is one of two maps in this section where North is not straight up on the page. The other is the map of Walden Pond.

I have overlaid my gps tracks on this map. The first calibration point is the trail junction WW31 just east of Pleasant Meadow. The second calibration point is the trail junction WW58 in the southeast corner of the map near the railroad.

For me, the most interesting parts of Adams Woods are Heywood Brook and the trail near Andromeda Pond. The trail "to Mt. Misery" is the official route to Mt. Misery and route 117. The trail "to Old Concord Road" leads across a privately owned farm but does allow one to rejoin the path to Mt. Misery.

Adams Woods

Fairhaven Hill is an area of about 600 acres in Concord, Massachusetts. Of the 600 acres, about 400 acres is conservation land. As shown on the image below, the largest area of conservation land on Fairhaven Hill is Wright Woods. Looking again at the image, Fairhaven Hill is bounded by Route 2 on the north, a railroad on the northeast, Lincoln on the southeast, and the Sudbury River on the southwest. Conservation land (gray blue), and some trails (dashed-brown line) are shown.

Fairhaven Hill Conservation Land

A topographic map of the Fairhaven Hill area shows elevation contours that let you see where the hills, plains, low areas (sometimes wet), and sloping valleys are. There is a large hill, Fairhaven Hill, in the center. The summit is located at the end of one of the red roads, the middle one on the map. The south side of this hill is a rocky cliff. This is the location where the 10-ft contour lines are close together.

In the conservation area (pink) to the south, there is a flat plain where the contour lines are widely space. Toward the southwest, you can see four V-shaped valleys leading town towards the river. Close to one part of the river is a smaller cliff.

The conservation area (pink) near the railroad (black and white dashed line) is another flat plain.

Walden Pond is the large blue area on the other side of the railroad tracks. Between Walden Pond and the Sudbury River, there is a series of ponds (light green). The dark green area toward the southeast is part of Adams Woods, an elevated area.

Fairhaven Hill Topographic Map

To clearly see all of this detailed information, you can logon to the Concord Geographic Information System (GIS) website. Initially, the cursor is set to the + sign. Any time you click on the map, you will zoom in closer. To find Fairhaven Hill, start at the big H, Emerson Hospital. Move down and to the right. As soon as you cross one road, you are on Fairhaven Hill. Click the cursor a couple of times.

Next, select the Map Layers tab on the left side of your computer display. Scroll down until you find the Wetlands Conservancy District. Check that box. The map will reload. Similarly, check the boxes for Topography, Town Conservation Land, Priv Conservation Trusts, and Town-Owned Land.

Return to the map and examine the features you are interested in. If you select the hand symbol above the map, you will be able to move the map around. If you select the "i" in the blue circle, you will be able to check land ownership, the elevation for a given contour line, etc.

The next map is a closeup of the Fairhaven Hill cliff. The pink point coming in from the left is the Concord Land Conservation Trust property that includes a part of the cliff. There is a large house at the summit near the end of Fairhaven Hill Road. This is private property. Be courteous. Do not trespass.

Fairhaven Hill Cliff Topo

This photo/map is from the Concord GIS website. I have superimposed some of my GPS tracks (blue lines) on this image. You can see the route I took up and down the cliff with my dog, Juliet.

Fairhaven Hill Cliff Photo

This image shows tracks of my walks (blue lines) through mid-October 2008 superimposed on a topographic map. You can see that there are a great many trails to explore. In several sections, there are horse jumps made from 6 large logs stacked 3, 2 and 1 and secured with ropes or cables. They are located both in the valleys to the southwest and on sections of flat land.

Private roads are shown in red. Parking is not allowed on these private roads. Parking is limited to the parking lot off Sudbury Road and on the shoulder of Arena Terrace.

Topographic Map with GPS Tracks

This image shows tracks of my walks (blue lines) through mid-October 2008 superimposed on a map designating conservation land. The parking off Sudbury Road is at the western-most track. You can also park on Arena Terrace at the northern-most track.

If you are walking without a dog, you can see how easy it would be to venture into the Walden Pond conservation area. You can also walk to Mt. Misery in Lincoln via the path that includes waypoint WW32.

Conservation Map with GPS Tracks

Finally, we have a map of Walden Pond. This is one of two maps in this section where North is not directly toward the top of the page. The top of the map points to the southwest. To find a North arrow, you may view the source document, Walden Map.

Walden Pond

GPS Data

For those of you with a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit capable of uploading data, I have included a zipped gpx file. To use this file, first unzip it. On a Windows computer, right-click the file and select "Open with Compressed (zipped) Folders". Then, connect your GPS unit to your computer and upload the gpx file using the software that came with your gps unit.

Once you familiarize yourself with the included waypoints, you should be able to select a waypoint for your destination and easily find your way to the waypoint.

The WWPARKSUDBURYR waypoint is the parking area off Sudbury Road.

The WWA waypoint is the parking on Arena Terrace.

The WWF waypoint is the entrance to Walden Pond at the railroad track.

To walk from Fairhaven Hill to Mount Misery and Route 117, first walk to the WWF waypoint. Continue to the WWE waypoint. Follow the series of waypoints WW30, WW31, WW32, WW32. Continue on to MM69. Then, follow the track to Southwest and you will reach Route 117. Reverse your walk to return to your starting point.