Driving Tours North Quabbin

North Quabbin

Orange, also known as the Friendly Town, is the starting point for your North Quabbin Adventure! Start at Trail Head in Orange center where you can pick up maps for the entire region as well as supplies and grab a bite at the Millers River Café.

Take South Main Street/Rte. 122, and you will immediately see Orange Memorial Park on your left. Visit the official Peace Statue of the Commonwealth, a 12 foot bronze statue of a soldier and a young boy with the inscription “It shall not happen again.” It’s also the site for the annual New Year’s Eve festival Starry Starry Night. Nearby, take a stroll in the newly renovated Butterfield Park, then cross over to The Community Boathouse, the-boat house at 25 East River Street. It offers a wide variety of activities and affordable canoe and kayak rentals. The annual Orange Solstice RiverFest takes place in June on the Millers River featuring arts, crafts, food and music. At dusk floating fire pits are lit, and the boat parade starts, with decorated and illuminated vessels. Another annual event is the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival in September. Also known as the festival that stinks, it celebrates community spirit, agriculture, food, arts, crafts, music and of course garlic!

For more adventure, head down East River Street to Orange Municipal Airport and visit Jumptown the oldest skydiving club in the country and take a dive! In case you brought your four-legged friend, the North Quabbin Dog Park is located near the airport. Open dawn to dusk, and at no charge, let your dog play and have fun too! The annual Yankee Engine-uety Show is held in June every year at the airport.

Quintessential New Salem awaits your visit! Take Rte. 122 South out of Orange to Rte. 202 towards New Salem. It may be time for refreshments and the New Salem Country Store offers both freshly made sandwiches and pastries, a variety of beverages, and a covered outside picnic area. The store also hosts the wildly popular Hilltown Brewfest every September bringing dozens of craft brewers together for a massive tasting.

Continue two miles further on Rte. 202, turn left onto Cooleyville Road (the third with same name), and continue to Hunt Road and the Quabbin Sky Vineyard. They offer free wine tastings with wines for sale on site.

Now turn around and backtrack on Rte. 202, and opposite the Country Store, take a right onto North Main Street, and Historic New Salem Common. Enjoy the picturesque landscape and farms, or relax to music and cultural events at the 1794 Meetinghouse. The 1794 Meetinghouse is a beautiful Greek revival building built in 1794 as a church and a public gathering place. Today it is known for offering outstanding musical and cultural programs of wide appeal during the summer. Continue down South Main Street, and you will encounter New Salem Preserves, an apple orchard with 125-year-old apple trees and an all-organic policy. Check out the overlook view of the Quabbin Reservoir as you head down the road to Quabbin Gate 25. The Quabbin is a premier wildlife habitat and human visitor haven, with 25,000 acres of water surrounded by 81,000 acres of beautiful, protected watershed lands. It is also a birder’s paradise.

Eagles were returned to the Quabbin in the 1980s, and today they, and a myriad of other birds, live or stop by the reservoir and adjacent land. Head back towards the store and turn right back onto Rte. 202 South then turn right onto Rte. 122 towards Petersham. Right after this intersection, make a stop at Quabbin Gate 30. The hiking trail from the gate crosses the lovely arched Keystone Bridge, built by hand in 1866. From the bridge, a fisherman’s trail leads east along the river to the Quabbin Reservoir.

As you get back on Rte. 122, be ready to take a left onto Rte. 32 towards Petersham. The town common welcomes you, and a must visit is the Petersham Country Store. Freshly prepared food made with locally sourced ingredients, eat in or take out. Following Rte. 32 towards Athol, the Petersham Craft Center and Gallery is on your left. Find that special gift made by a local artisan or take a class! Along Rte. 32, the Clamber Hill Inn and Restaurant is located on your left, opposite the sign for Rte. 101. They offer overnights, wine and whiskey tastings and a first-class restaurant open Thursday through Saturday.

Just a few miles down the road you will find the Petersham Curling Club, one of just three in the entire followed by the Harvard Forest and Fisher Museum. The 3,700 acre forest is operated by Harvard University and has a museum and lectures as well as hiking and cross-country skiing.

Take Rte. 101 towards Phillipston turning left at Petersham Road and enter Phillipston Common with its classic New England charm. Head out of the common on Baldwinville Road towards Patriots Road (Rte. 2A) and stop at the King Phillip Restaurant for some hearty fare by the fireside. Turn left onto 2A towards Athol. Be sure to make a stop at the Red Apple Farm by turning right on Highland Ave. The orchard offers a wide variety of produce, baked goods and family events year round.

Continue down 2A into Athol passing the high school. Across the street from the hospital you’ll find Bearsden Road that leads to the Bearsden Conservation Area with miles of trails crisscrossing 1,000 acres of forest, hills and the Millers River. Reserve one of the rustic cabins for free for a special summer or fall holiday.

Back on Rte. 2A, turn right on Main Street towards Athol center and the Athol Public Library will be on your right. The library is the first LEED Certified library in the country showcasing the region’s attention to the environment. Just behind the library is a newly added park and amphitheater. A short drive down the street turn right on Exchange Street and visit the North Quabbin Visitors Bureau and Visitors Center at 251 Exchange Street. We have maps and brochures and would love to see you!

Back on Main Street, continue towards Orange, and the Millers River Environmental Center and Alan E. Rich Environmental Park will be on your right. The center is home to the nationally recognized Athol Bird and Nature Club and the park offers access to the Millers River for canoes, kayaks and small boats, and is the official starting point for the annual River Rat Race every April. The park also offers great opportunities for birding and hiking.

Heading back towards Orange on 2A, turn right onto Wheeler Road in Orange, and visit Johnson’s Farm and Sugar House. Enjoy a delicious meal in a country setting and visit the store. Turn right off Wheeler Road and you’ll return to Orange center . The North Quabbin Region offers over 100,000 acres of permanently conserved land open for public use with hundreds of miles of marked and rated trails, waterways and endless recreational opportunities. It is also the source for many of Worcester and Boston’s farm to table restaurants, producing organic meats, dairy, cheese, produce, wine and beer.