Memorial Forest


The trails at Memorial Forest provide vistas within the globally unique pitch pine-scrub oak barrens that supports numerous rare and declining species of wildlife including whip-poor-will, prairie warbler, American woodcock, several species of moth and turtles.  Visitors will traverse by cold water streams, beaver wetlands and majestic pine forest.

February 2024: The City of Marlborough is conducting a timber harvest to prepare for a future prescribed burn. Trails surrounding the harvest area in Marlborough will be closed throughout that work. (Learn more: Desert Natural Area Pitch Pine-Scrub Oak Barrens Habitat Restoration Project.)

Please note: On August 1, 2023, Eversource will resume its two-year project to construct an electric transmission line along the abandoned rail line in the Desert Natural Area and Memorial Forest. As a result, the trail connection along the old rail line will be closed from August 1 until the project's expected completion date in April 2024. Visit Eversource's Project Page for more information.

We advise visitors to check out the trail map ahead of time to plan your visit. SVT and the other landowners in the Desert Natural Area are posting notices about the trail closures at our trailheads.

Full Description

Effective May 1, 2021, all conservation land owners in the Desert Natural Area enacted a dog-leash policy. Visitors are asked to keep their pets on leash at all times to help protect wildlife and sensitive resources, and to ensure a pleasant experience for all. People and their pets should stay on trails. Learn more about the policy.

Straddling the border of Sudbury and Marlborough are hundreds of acres of public and private open space dedicated primarily to conservation. These lands include the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Massachusetts Memorial Forest (owned by SVT),  other lands owned by GFWCM, two tracts of Marlborough State Forest, and conservation lands owned by Town of Sudbury and City of Marlborough.

Known as the Desert due to the prevalence of well-drained sandy soils, this conservation area provides an unusual diversity of habitats: oak-pine forest, pitch pine-scrub oak, red maple swamp, and wet meadows intersected by two streams. 

SVT and the City of Marlborough, with support from the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, are restoring the pitch pine-scrub oak barrens that were historically more widespread at this site. (Learn more: Desert Natural Area Pitch Pine-Scrub Oak Barrens Habitat Restoration Project.)

This restoration will benefit declining populations of whip-poor-wills and wild lupine and will provide habitat for rare butterflies and moths, including the forested elfin, slender clearwing, and barrens buckmoth. 

  • Henry Ford purchased the land in the 1930s and sold it to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Massachusetts in 1950. The club wanted to establish a memorial forest and wildlife sanctuary as a tribute to those who served their country in World War II. The GFWCM gave the land to SVT after SVT managed the land and eliminated illicit activities over a period of two years.
  • This conservation area protects habitat for several endangered species, including the box and wood turtle. It also contains several vernal pools, some of which support the endangered blue-spotted salamander.
  • Beavers are active in this area, damming up the brooks at different points. Beaver meadows, created by flooding from their dams, attract a diversity of plant, insect, and bird species. 
  • Many bird species are commonly sighted here, including great blue heron, red shouldered hawk, ovenbird, common yellow throat, song sparrow, pine warbler, and wood thrush.


With mapping software, search for this address: 225 Dutton Road, Sudbury, MA
From Sudbury Center, take Hudson Road west for 2.0 miles to Dutton Road on the left. Take Dutton Road 1.8 miles, staying on Dutton Road by bearing right at the intersection with Old Garrison Road, to an unpaved access on the right into a parking area under pine trees. There is an SVT sign at the entrance to the parking area.
Click here to visit Google Maps for specific directions from your home.

Nearby Nature Sightings

A common garter snake at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Maynard, photographed by William Watt.
William Watt photographed this common garter snake at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Maynard.
Hooded mergansers at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, photographed by Dan Trippe.
Dan Trippe photographed hooded mergansers, ring-necked ducks, a belted kingfisher, pine warblers, American woodcock chicks, a blue-gray gnatcatcher, barn swallows, a palm warbler, a yellow-rumped warbler, a common grackle, an...
An eastern towhee at SVT's Memorial Forest in Sudbury, photographed by Dan Trippe.
Dan Trippe photographed this eastern towhee at SVT's General Federation of Women's Clubs of Massachusetts Memorial Forest in Sudbury.