Cedar Hill and Sawink Farm, Northborough and Westborough

A view of the meadow on top of Cedar Hill. Photo by Joyce Dwyer.

Town/City

Northborough, Westborough, Southborough, and Marlborough

Size

183.3 acres

Trail Map

PDF icon Cedar Hill and Sawink Farm Trail Map Brochure

PDF icon Crane Swamp Interpretive Trail Brochure

The Crane Swamp Conservation Area spans more than 2,225 acres of open space that straddle the borders of Northborough, Westborough, Southborough, and Marlborough, making this site one of the most significant areas of open space in the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord River watershed. The centerpiece of the conservation area is a 400-acre red maple swamp surrounded by a complex of open fields, wet meadows, ponds, pine plantations, and oak-pine forests, with Cedar Hill to the west and Walnut Hill to the northeast.

The properties that make up the conservation area are owned by a variety of state agencies as well as by SVT. Together, the conserved lands protect a watershed that helps to preserve the public water supply for 2.5 million people. 

SVT protected 101 acres of Sawink Farm Reservation at the eastern border of Northborough and Westborough in 1992 and protected the 88-acre drumlin of Cedar Hill in Northborough in 1993. The Department of Conservation and Recreation owns Crane Swamp, Little Crane Swamp, and much of Walnut Hill, just north of Sawink Farm Reservation. Westborough State Hospital land extends from Lyman Street to Chauncy Pond, and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife owns land which runs west to the Assabet River.

The size of this natural oasis is particularly remarkable as it is bounded by major transportation corridors including I-495 to the east, Route 9 to the south, Route 135 to the west, and ConRail track and Route 20 to the north, along with associated industrial and residential development. 

Natural features here include red maple swamps, wooded drumlins, ponds, streams, wet meadows, agricultural fields, and plantation forests, as well as tributaries to both the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers. This mosaic of different habitats provides for a rich array of plants and animals, including state-listed species, interior-sensitive forest birds, and species that need to range some distance throughout the year for survival.

  • Trails here connect properties owned by several state agencies.  
  • Wildlife species known to inhabit the area include bobcat, coyote, red fox, snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, barred owl, ruffed grouse, American woodcock, spotted turtles, and monarch butterflies. 
  • At Cedar Hill, SVT is restoring a vanishing habitat type in New England known as early successional shrub habitat. 
  • Birds benefiting from the habitat restoration include eastern towhee and blue-winged warbler. Some insects and butterflies benefit as well. 
  • Four small hills in the area are drumlins, or elongated hills created by glacial drift. Lands of this type were commonly used for grazing and for planting fruit trees because the soil is too stony and poorly drained for good crop production. 
  • The flatter, more wide-open areas of this property were once probably used as crop or hay fields.
  • The Westborough Charm Bracelet winds through the area, connecting these conservation lands with many others across town. 

Funding for the Crane Swamp Interpretive Trail was provided by REI and the Kodak American Greenways Awards Program.

 

Directions

Cedar Hill, Marlborough/Northborough

For the north entrance, take Route 495 to exit 23C (Simarano Drive exit). Continue to the lights at the end of the exit ramp. Take a left at the lights onto Simarano Drive. Continue to another set of lights and take a right onto Cedar Hill Street. Parking for the reservation is at 360 Cedar Hill Street. The entrance will be on your left across from Forest Street. There is ample parking, labeled with SVT signs, immediately on your right. A trail easement, marked by posts and SVT markers leads around the wetlands and to a kiosk behind the buildings.

Click here to visit Google Maps for specific directions from your home.

Sawink Farm, Westborough

From route 495 take the route 9 west exit 23B. Follow route 9 west approximately 1.1 miles to the route 30 east (E. Main St.) exit. Bear right onto East Main Street. Continue approximately 1 mile to Walker Street on the left. Turn left on Walker Street and continue down the hill to the SVT sign and a small parking lot on the left.

Click here to visit Google Maps for specific directions from your home.