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Mehaffey Farm was founded in 1826, when the family first purchased what was then a 300-acre farm. The original owners were among the first settlers of the Town of Rowley. Now in their seventh generation, the Mehaffeys cultivate sustainably-grown fruit, vegetables and grains to sell to area residents and restaurants.
This land was once part of a great forest that filled the divide between the Parker and Ipswich River drainages. Indigenous People hunted and trapped game here. While colonists converted most of the forest to farmland, there is regrowth, and vestiges of old growth can be found in surrounding state forests in Rowley, Georgetown, and Boxford.
To ensure the land will never be developed, a conservation restriction now forever preserves its rich farmland soils, intact woodlands that help keep Rowley’s drinking water clean, and the new public trail leading to Willowdale State Forest and a larger trail network.
The woodland trail, on Mehaffey land, is open to the public. Walking from the parking area to a secluded trail, a hiker is likely to hear only their own footsteps and the songs of birds. The trail meanders through a mature hardwood forest with views over a spectacular wetland and beaver pond, connecting to trails on the adjacent Willowdale and Cleaveland Farm State Forests.
As Maggie and Bill Mehaffey continue to farm their fields and live in its original ca. 1700 homestead, the farm itself is not open to the public.
The Mehaffey Farm Conservation Restriction and Trail was made possible through Rowley Community Preservation Act funds, Essex County Greenbelt Association, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Conservation Partnership Grant Program, individual and foundation donors, and the Mehaffey family.
In 2015, the Mehaffeys reached out to Greenbelt to seek help with acquiring the farm from far-away family members with whom they shared ownership. Greenbelt proposed an approach that would not only help the Mehaffeys obtain sole possession of the farm, but ensure that the land remained forever preserved for farming and open space with a trail open to the public.
In phase one, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation acquired approximately 53 acres of forestland from the family. In phase two, a successful fundraising campaign completed in 2018, led by Greenbelt, then insured that the farmland and public access trail would be forever preserved through a conservation restriction.
Hiking the Trail
Mehaffey Farm Trail is on private property; public access is not permitted off the trail. The landowner may close the trail from time to time during land management activities to protect visitor safety.
Latitude: 42.686713, Longitude -70.944079
From Route 95, Take the Route 133/ Exit 78 East towards Rowley. Go approximately 1.5 miles and take a right onto Boxford Street. Go about a mile and take a left onto Newbury Road. Go past the entrance to Mehaffey Farm and look for the Greenbelt parking lot opposite 212 Newbury Road.
From Route 1, go west on Linebrook Road. Go approximately 1.2 miles and take a right onto Newbury Road. The Greenbelt parking lot is opposite 212 Newbury Road. If you come to the entrance to Mehaffey Farm, you have gone too far.
Spaces for four cars.
82 Eastern Avenue, Essex,
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.