Boardwalk at Hawley Bog Preserve
Hawley Bog Boardwalk at Hawley Bog Preserve © Mike Condon (IG: MCondon1)

Places We Protect

Hawley Bog Preserve

Massachusetts

The Hawley Bog preserve ranks among the best remaining examples of a natural New England bog.

Why You Should Visit

This preserve is one of the few examples of an unspoiled bog that can easily be visited. A mat of consolidated peat 30 feet thick floats on the open water of a deep glacial depression and supports an unusual community of plants. Adjacent to the site is the historic Hawley Town Common which has additional walking paths and historic information.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Hawley Bog is a regionally important example of an intact New England bog.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy owns 25 acres of this unique preserve and the remaining acreage is owned by Five Colleges, Inc. (a consortium made up of Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire and Amherst Colleges and the University of Massachusetts). The entire preserve is managed cooperatively by The Nature Conservancy and is used as an outdoor classroom by the Five Colleges.

In 1997, volunteers and staff completed a 700-foot boardwalk. Partially made from non-toxic recycled plastic, the boardwalk forms a trail over the floating bog mat. It replaced boards which had been placed directly on the bog mat, which threatened the bog's sensitive community of plants. In 2012 the boardwalk was extended and portions were replaced.

What to See

At the periphery of the bog is a wooded swamp with wild iris surrounded by striking stands of hemlock and mountain laurel. Look closely at the bog mat for a variety of unique plant species including carnivorous plants such as bladderwort and sundews. The bog is also a wonderful spot to bird watch and moose have been sighted occasionally.

Preserve Policies

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 and boardwalk to protect this fragile ecosystem
  • No collecting of plants or animals
  • No pets
  • Carry out all litter
  • No fires, smoking or camping

Accessibility

All reasonable requests for special accommodations will be made with ample notice.
The short trail is flat. It is very important to stay on the boardwalk (the bog is a floating mat and can be damaged easily).

The short trail is flat but somewhat difficult due to its extreme wetness. It is very important to stay on the boardwalk (it is a floating mat and can break easily), which allows truly close-up views of an unusual community of vegetation.

Groups larger than 10 people are asked to coordinate their visit with our Western Massachusetts Program at (413) 229-0232 ext 232. Dogs are not permitted at this preserve due to the fragile habitat conditions and narrow boardwalk. If you have any questions while planning your outing, please contact Angela Sirois.