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Located between Bradley Palmer State Park and the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Vineyard Hill Reservation represents one of the most scenic landscapes in Essex County. An extensive 2.2 mile trail network traverses the entire property and invites visitors to explore miles of winding trails that connect Shaw Field in the north to Vineyard Hill in the south and other nearby conserved land.
Because of its proximity to the Ipswich River, this area and its natural resources would have been thoroughly explored by many generations of Indigenous People, known as the Pawtucket or Agawam, who were fishing here. They fished for alewives (river herring), shad, and other species on their spring runs, as well as for migrating Atlantic eels. Eels were a culinary delicacy and had other important uses. Crushed eel skeletons were added to baby food as a kind of protein powder, and the cured skins were used as soft, strong cradleboard ties, and moccasin laces.
The Vineyard Hill Reservation represents a classic glacial landscape characterized by steep drumlins.
A premier Greenbelt Reservation that is open from dawn to dusk, Vineyard Hill’s 139 acres offer an incredible ridgeline trail attractive to equestrians, runners and hikers.
Vineyard Hill was part of the larger family estate of General George S. Patton, Jr. beginning in 1928 and later of his son Major General George S. Patton and wife Joanne.
The estate included woodlands and farmland. Greenbelt purchased portions of the estate from the Patton family in 2017, and the Vineyard Hill property and farmland across Asbury Street in 2019.
Major General Patton retired to Green Meadows in 1980. He started a pick-your-own blueberry business that in time evolved into an organic produce farm, the first of its kind in the area. After the General’s death in 2004, his wife established a thriving Community Supported Agriculture collective known as Green Meadows Farm.
Since the 1980s, when former Greenbelt President Ed Becker toured the property in the back of Major General Patton’s pickup truck, this amazing land had been a high conservation priority for Greenbelt.
There is a diverse mixture of woodlands, open fields, intervening streams and wetlands with trails throughout. Woodlands are dominated by hardwoods like oak, maple and birch but white pines and some large cedars are common throughout.
A few fields are in active agriculture, other fields are left uncut until late summer for wildlife and invertebrates. The varied terrain provides critical habitat for wetland dependent wildlife. Deer, coyote, red fox, fisher, turkey, owls, hawks and migrant seasonal songbirds like warblers are all abundant.
For decades, the Patton family generously worked with Greenbelt to protect significant portions of this land. However, more than 50 acres remained at risk for development, and access to trails throughout the entire property was in jeopardy.
A successful, private fundraising effort, including a generous donation from the Institution for Savings Conservation Fund, allowed Greenbelt to forever preserve Vineyard Hill and farmland located across Asbury Street.
Preserving this land increased and secured year-round recreational access for public enjoyment, permanently protected prime agricultural land, and safeguarded watershed protection and priority wildlife habitat.
Iron Ox Farm, located across Asbury Street, has been leased to new farmers and will include a trail for public enjoyment.
656 Asbury Street, South Hamilton. (Opens in Google Maps)
Latitude 42.638427, Longitude -70.902015
From Ipswich Road in Topsfield (1.2 miles from Route 1), look for the sign for Bradley Palmer State Park. Turn onto Asbury Street. The parking area is about 1.5 miles on your left. From Route 1A in Hamilton, turn on to Arbor Street which becomes Highland Street. Follow this for 1.3 miles and turn left on to Asbury Street. Parking is about 1.3 miles on your right.
82 Eastern Avenue
PO Box 1026
Essex, MA 01929
Greenbelt thanks the photographers whose work is featured prominently on our website: Jerry Monkman, Dorothy Monnelly, Adrian Scholes, David Alden St. Pierre & Neil Ungerleider