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An Urban Gem - Alewife Reservation Nature Preserve

With boardwalks over a fresh water marsh, a bike path and a ecologically diverse trail through the silver maple forest to Belmont's Little Pond, Alewife Reservation is an easily accessible regional nature preserve with much to offer on two trails managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and stewarded by the Friends of Alewife Reservation who have created attractions on either side of Little River, which is a fish passage waterways which does not appear clean.

The Preserve's south trail is a handicapped accessible multi-purpose asphalt path which is also open to bikes, observers of nature and walker/hikers. IT is about one mile from Alewife T stop to Blanchard Road in Belmont and used greatly by commuters. Some of this trail offers detours onto handsomely designed wooden boardwalks with several benches which allow a 180 degree view of marshes and woodlands and river front..The marsh and waterways are presently filled with ducks, geese, swans, and wading birds like great blue herons..The first of the Canada geese goslings hatched last week and these families are walking and swimming together in full view of the walkways as they nested in the tall grasses along the marshes.The forested areas and meadows are alive with the spring song of migrating birds as well as toads, frogs and the splash of huge carp and turtles.

The North Trail which begins across from Discovery Park is presently hosting many migrating birds. This more primitive North trail winds its way through several types of habitats of shrub, woodlands, meadow and thickets. It closely follows the Alewife spawning currents and offers frequent views of Little River, formerly a connection to Menotomy River, named for the Native Americans who lived and flourished many years ago in what is now Arlington, Belmont and Cambridge.

My Early morning walk with Ellen Mass of FAR brought sightings of species of warblers including yellow, black and white and yellow rump warblers, ovenbirds, myrtle, and palm warblers. Tuesday morning, there were several pairs of singing Baltimore orioles, nesting robins, three species of swallow which included tree, rough-winged and barn swallows. I saw catbirds, woodpeckers, blue jays, chickadees, red-wing blackbirds and mourning doves. Earlier walk, there was a male turkey seen in full display by others with a hen nearby. Overhead we saw the local red-tail hawks soar looking for field mice and voles which are plentiful on the Reservation. The area's resident bald eagles from the Mystic Lakes, have also been seen soaring over the park. 40 species of birds in a morning is not uncommon. Butterfly season is here and we've seen the common cabbage white and tiger swallowtail which is large, yellow and black . On this same trail I saw 3 rabbits and a very old turtle which I estimate to be over 50. Friends of Alewife Reservation assessments include deer and coyote and 20 mammal species sighted by professional assessor, Dave Brown, who guides groups for the Friends.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation manages the park with programs run by the all-volunteer Friends of Alewife Reservation, and more DCR personnel are coming out for walks. Nature walks are usually on Saturday mornings and recently a sketch class. Look for Friends of Alewife Reservation website and newspaper calendar for events. The Friends are presently preparing for their annual mayor's program ecology day camp, a 6 week out door nature and earth science teaching experience. Free parking for 20 cars at Discovery Park- Alewife Reservation off Rt 2 exit at Lake Street and back East for the turn and parking lot. We live in a congested area and the Alewife Reservation allow us to share with our kindred wildlife to have a respite from the urban world. Come and enjoy it! I usually walk the North Trail several times a week early morning.

Lorene Melvin

cat tails and water

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Forest and Park Friends Network

winter wildlife walk Presentation Spotlighting Alewife Reservation
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Regional, National and International Climate Change
Aggregated by David Landskov of Sustainable Arlington and FAR board member.
Local Resources
About Friends of Alewife Reservation

The Alewife Reservation is a unique natural resource for the communities of Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge and home to hundreds of species, including hawks, coyotes beavers, snapping turtles, wild turkeys and muskrats, the reservation is a unique natural resource for the community.
Historical information (Powerpoint)

Friends of Alewife Reservation works to protect and restore this wild area and the surrounding area for the water quality, native plants, animals and over 90 bird species with paths for walking, running and biking, recreation, and for classroom education and research. We regularly steward and preserve the Reservation area for wildlife and for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

photo of nature walk

About Friends of Alewife Reservation
Statement of Purpose
Virtual Tour
Right now, view the wildlife-rich North Trail of Alewife Reservation.
MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
Master Plan for Alewife Reservation
Citizen Forester newsletter archive
History of Cambridge
Free Download from Google Play
The Birds of the Cambridge Region of Massachusetts

by William Brewster 1906
Nuttal Ornithological Society

Biodiversity Study of Alewife Reservation Area: Species, Habitat, Ecosystems

Inventories by David Brown, wildlife assessor (2003, 2004.) Published by and available from FAR for $10. Write or call for your copy. (sample)

Updated Dave Brown Inventories (2008, 2010)

Inventories of Alewife Reservation Wetland Plants by Walter Kittredge, Botanist (2013)