This 1.5-mile woodland trail traverses the east bank of the Mill River and leads to the ruins of the dam whose breach on May 16, 1874 caused the Mill River Flood disaster. The trail was established in 2016 by Williamsburg Woodland Trails (WWT) and protected in 2019 with a 10-year trail easement held by Hilltown Land Trust.
Trailside signs installed by the WWT tell the story of the building and breaching of the dam, and of the disaster that followed, claiming 139 lives and destroying many buildings in the towns and villages along the Mill River. The informative signs allow visitors to take a self-guided history walk as they enjoy the woodland trail.
HLT conserved the trail with a trail easement as part of the Voluntary Public Access Program, an initiative which seeks to create more publicly-accessible areas on privately-held land. We were very excited to work with our partners Franklin Land Trust and WWT as well as landowners Bethany and Will Ouimet, Lorraine Barrack, and the Northampton Water Department to protect this historic trail for public enjoyment.
This is a rugged trail of moderate difficulty with some steep/ rugged portions. Please note the trail is CLOSED IN WINTER due to potentially hazardous conditions along the narrow, sloping trail.
For a trail map, visit the WWT webpage.
Trail Use Guidelines
- Carry in, carry out.
- Respect the dam site and artifacts. Do not climb on or disturb the ruins.
- Dogs are not allowed on the Historic Dam Trail.
- No fires, camping, or motorized vehicles.
- Please respect the land, and the generosity of the owners.
Parking and Directions
From Williamsburg center take Ashfield Road north approximately three miles. A small parking area is located at the trailhead, on the east side of Ashfield Road, just south of the Judd Lane intersection. Look for the Historic Dam Trail sign.