Location: Along Trapelo Road in Belmont, Massachusetts and through the Beaver Brook Reservation
Counties: Belmont, Waltham
The Waverley Trail runs from the intersection of Trapelo Road and Waverley Street in Belmont to the east, to the intersection of Trapelo Road and Mill Street in Belmont to the west; then, along the paved walkway in Beaver Brook Reservation to the parking lot on Waverley Oaks Road in Waltham. For directions to the eastern trailhead (“Intersection Waverley Street and Trapelo Road, Belmont, MA), see maps.google.com.
In the Waverley neighborhood of Belmont, Massachusetts and in the adjacent city of Waltham, there are a number of beautiful and distinguished buildings and landscapes. Among them is an historic resource of international significance: a small but impressive stand of trees, including several large oaks, that grows on a series of steep, short hills rising above Beaver Brook. These trees are protected within the MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Beaver Brook Reservation.
One of those trees, likely two to three centuries in age, is the last survivor of the Waverley Oaks. Several others are very likely the descendants of the remarkable Waverley Oaks – a grove of nearly two dozen very large and ancient white oaks growing on that site which, in the 1890s, inspired the creation of the world's first land trust (now known as The Trustees of Reservations, or TTOR) as well as the nation's first public regional park authority (the Metropolitan Park Commission, now part of the state DCR). The land trust and regional park movements which the Waverley Oaks helped to establish have had global impacts, inspiring the conservation of millions of acres of open space in the United States and internationally, from the Czech Republic to Chile.
The Waverley Trail dedicated on Arbor Day 2007 before a large and enthusiastic crowd of young people and adults, is a three-quarter mile interpretive trail that aims to bring alive, for new generations, the remarkable natural and cultural heritage of the Waverley neighborhood, and of the Waverley Oaks which were instrumental in inspiring landmark innovations in the history of the American conservation movement. The green painted line that marks the Waverley Trail, and the carefully crafted interpretive signs and banners along its length, serve to connect of a densely populated urban/suburban neighborhood to the east with a spacious green space that lies less than a mile to the west. As such, it is frequented by kids, parents and grandparents out to get some exercise and learn more about their neighborhood's remarkable heritage. It is the destination for school field trips sponsored by elementary, middle and high schools in the area. And it is a source of considerable pride to residents and business people who spend part of every day along its route. A typical reaction to the Trail from local residents is “Gee, I've lived here all of my life. I never knew that this place had real history! This is great. Really great.”
Importantly, the Waverley Trail interconnects with and serves as a gateway to the Western Greenway, an emerging regional hiking trail that extends from Belmont through parts of Waltham and Lexington. Specifically, the Waverley Trail links the Western Greenway to a major rail/bus transit hub in Waverley Square, Belmont. The entire length of the Trail is along city sidewalks, across marked crosswalks, and over paved walkways within the Beaver Brook Reservation. As a result, the entire Trail is accessible to young and old, the able-bodied and the physically challenged, and even those who need to look at the interpretive materials from their passenger vehicles. Furthermore, each of the interpretive panels is also reproduced on the web, allowing anyone, anywhere to learn and enjoy the story of the Waverley Oaks and the neighborhood that surrounds their historic home.
The trail was entirely envisioned and realized by a group of private citizens known as the Waverley Trail Advisory Committee of the Belmont Land Trust over a period of about five years in the first decade of the 21st century. Design expertise was provided to the project by the design firm of Roll-Barresi and Associates, the same firm that designed the signage for Boston's famous Freedom Trail. Specifically, a young designer at the firm, Michaelann Zimmerman, brought the graphic design of the project signage from conception to completion. In an ongoing effort, the Waverley Trial Advisory Committee now stewards the project, and has raised the funds to allow for the installation of brass sidewalk medallions along the path of the trail, at the same time that Trapelo Road is rebuilt in the 2012-2013 timeframe. From its very beginning, the Waverley Trail has enjoyed the enthusiastic support of local and regional political and civic leaders, including Belmont Selectmen Paul Solomon, Will Brownsberger and Angelo Firenze, Town Historian Richard Betts, and dozens of private donors, ranging from local schoolchildren and parents to Atkins family members whose great-grandfather made key donations supporting regional conservation and the protection of the Waverley Oaks as far back as 1893. Even the Belmont Media Center is offering highly-valued support as a proud sponsor of the project.
Happily, largely due to the success of the Waverley Trail, the story of the Waverley Oaks continues to spread. A recent delegation visiting the Trail from Chile left inspired, vowing to redouble their efforts to launch a land trust movement in their own nation. Commenting on their visit at a recent ceremony honoring the stewards of the Waverley Oaks, Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance ( the national umbrella group for all of the nation's 1,700 land trusts) summed it up nicely: "This is the birthplace of the land trust movement in America… One hundred years ago, there was a local, citizen-led action to protect the Waverley Oaks... The idea was revolutionary and it happened here."
Width: 48 inches.
Primary Surface: Concrete
Secondary Surface: Asphalt
Average Grade: 5%
Maximum Grade: 25%
Elevation Low Point: 62
Elevation High Point: 93
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2011
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsDocument: Map 2
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Chair, Waverley Trail Advisory Committee of the Be
Waverley Trail Advisory Committee of the Belmont L
PO Box 79218
Waverley, MA 02479
Mostly a Town Walk
This easy to follow trail runs mostly on sidewalks through the towns of Belmont and Waltham. Signs along the route describe the history of the area. One small portion of the trail is in the park by the location of the Waverley Oaks. According to one of the signs, only one original tree remains. It is close to the parking area on top of the little hill (near the very end of the trail in the park).
February 9, 2022
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