Why You Should Visit
Reed Brook Preserve is nestled in a picturesque hemlock ravine with Reed Brook running down from the west to the northeast to the Deerfield River. At the end of the trail a small overlook provides a beautiful view of the Deerfield River Valley.
Whitcomb Hill Road, Florida, Massachusetts
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Nature Conservancy purchased the first tracts at the Reed Brook Preserve in 1982, through the generosity of Winifred Irwin Clapp and her family, to protect one of the most unusual bedrock geologic features in Massachusetts: a serpentine outcrop. Serpentine is a grayish-green to dark-greenish-gray rock that has high levels of magnesium and heavy metals like chromium. This outcrop forms a cliff-face running east to west for several hundred yards. It harbors a specialized natural community that has adapted to the extremely nutrient-poor harsh soil conditions. This natural community type is globally rare and a regional conservation priority.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Between 1982 and 2003, the Conservancy protected four tracts of land. Since that time the main focus has been preserve monitoring and maintenance. In the summer of 1996, a small downburst or tornado struck the hemlock ravine and completely leveled a small area of trees surrounding the ravine and brook. Subsequently the lower section of the Reed Brook trail had to be re-routed because of fallen timber and unstable hillsides.
What to See:
On the trail to the cliff tops, the hemlock ravine surrounds a lovely brook and passes through a mossy rock garden (rocky talus slopes) at the base of the cliffs. The hardy plants that grow near the cliffs include many unusual species, such as mouse-ear chickweed and maidenhair spleenwort. Bear are sometimes encountered on the preserve. A porcupine also has made its den here.
Please read our complete list of preserve use policies.
- Preserve open daily from dawn to dusk
- Foot traffic only
- Groups larger than 10 people are asked to coordinate their visit with our Western Massachusetts Program at (413) 229-0232.
- Please stay on the trail
- No collecting of plants or animals
- No pets
- Carry out all litter
- No fires, smoking or camping
- All reasonable requests for special accommodations will be made with ample notice.
- The trail is short but difficult with many rocks, steep climbs, a stream crossing, and slippery steps to maneuver. At a moderate pace it takes 30-45 minutes one way.
- If you have any questions while planning your outing, please contact our Western Massachusetts office at 413-229-0232.
Access to the preserve is provided from Whitcomb Hill Road to the north of Florida, MA off of Rt 2, about 45 minutes (30 miles) west of Greenfield, MA along the Mohawk Trail.
- In Florida (the right past junction with Church Rd if coming from east), take a right and travel 2.4 mi on Whitcomb Hill Road, keeping right at the fork and parking at the sign for Torrey Mountain Road on the right. This dirt road is marked with a green street sign and appears as a drivable road on most state maps, but is not.
- Park on the side of the road and proceed by foot up Torrey Mountain Rd.
- Pass the first culvert over Reed Brook. After the next switchback the trail will be on the right. Please note that although short, the trail is steep and rocky and may also be slippery.
The preserve may also be accessed by taking Zoar Rd off of Rt 2 a few miles west of Charlemont, then taking a left onto River Rd and following that until Whitcomb Hill Rd is seen on the left. Torrey Mt Rd will be just up on the left.