Peppercorn Hill - Kelly Parcels, Upton

Peppercorn Hill, Upton.
Peppercorn Hill, Upton.
Peppercorn Hill, Upton.

Update - June 30, 2021: It's official! The Kelly Property in Upton has been permanently protected and is now part of the Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area. Thank you to everyone who supported this project. We look forward to officially welcoming everyone to the trails later this year.

SVT worked with the Metacomet Land Trust (MLT) and the Town of Upton to protect the Kelly Property on the eastern edge of Upton and add it to the popular Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area.

The Kelly Property sits within the Peppercorn Hill land and abuts the Rockwood Meadows Open Space. The land hosts mature forests, wetlands, tributary streams of Mill River, a vernal pool, and impressive rocky outcrops. In addition, about 1 mile of the Peppercorn Hill trail network crosses this land.

By conserving the Kelly Property, we have protected its ecological features, closed a gap in the Conservation Area, and ensured the public always has access to the entire trail network.

Project Snapshot

The Kelly Property covers four parcels. During a Fall 2020 Town Meeting, Upton voters approved the use of Community Preservation Act funds to purchase three of the parcels. MLT purchased the fourth and received a $56,500 Conservation Partnership grant toward the purchase from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

SVT assisted MLT with the purchase, and we raised over $73,000 for the sale to close. Going forward, SVT now holds conservation restrictions on all four parcels and will ensure their ecological values are protected forever. 


The Kelly Property consists of four parcels that cover approximately 67 acres of land. (The Town of Upton purchased three of the parcels. The Metacomet Land Trust purchased the fourth.)

The property consists of wetlands and mature mixed upland coniferous and deciduous forest. Tributary streams of Mill River flow through the property.  

Impressive rocky outcrops overlook the stream and wetlands. A previously unmapped potential vernal pool is perched high above the wetlands. 

A beaver impoundment and an uncommon sedge-dominated wetland are present on the parcel that MLT purchased.

Trails on the property are used by the public and link to trails on adjacent protected open space. 

Kelly Property Project Map. In upper-left corner of map, click >> to see the Map Legend; click + or - to zoom in or out.


The Kelly Property is directly adjacent to over 300 acres of permanently protected open space owned by the Town of Upton and the Rockwood Meadows Association. The town-owned land, known as the Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area, was purchased by Upton in 1985 in part, with a “Self Help” grant from the Commonwealth.

The Rockwood Meadows Open Space is protected by a conservation restriction recorded in 2015 and co-held by the Town of Upton and the Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT). Other contiguous protected open space includes the Snow Family Conservation Area off East Street in Upton and Town of Milford open space off Camp Street.

All four Kelly parcels are contiguous with the Peppercorn Hill Conservation Area and contain trails used by the public. An overlook on the Kelly Property near the top of Peppercorn Hill provides a spectacular long distance view to the west.

A small portion of the property is considered BioMap2 Core Habitat.

Though the parcels are currently landlocked, they could have been combined with other adjacent properties for development purposes someday. The purchase of these lands by the Town of Upton and MLT has ensured the unique natural features and public trails will be protected in perpetuity. 

How We Protected This Land

The unprotected part of Peppercorn Hill consisted of four parcels totalling nearly 70 acres, and the Kelly family agreed to sell them for $260,000. Additional costs to complete the transaction, including a very expensive survey of the land, brought the total estimated project cost to $320,000.

Residents approved the purchase at a Special Town Meeting on November 10, 2020. 

In order to reduce the cost to the Town's Community Preservation Fund, Metacomet Land Trust and SVT offered to purchase one of the parcels, which spans 25.29 acres and is valued at $103,000. MLT received a state Conservation Partnership grant for $56,500, and SVT fundraised for the remainder of the purchase price and to cover transaction costs. 

After completing the fundraising effort, the Town purchased three of the Kelly parcels and Metacomet purchased the fourth. SVT now holds conservation restrictions over all four.