Mount Pisgah Conservation Area

Mountain:  Mt. Pisgah (715')
Trails:  Mentzer Trail, Sparrow Trail, Fisher Trail, Vernal Pool Trail, South Gorge Trail, Howard Brook Trail, Howard Ridge Trail, Berlin Road Trail, Summit Trail, Tyler Trail, North Overlook Trail, North Gorge Trail
Region:  MA - Central North  
Mount Pisgah Conservation Area
Location:  Northborough, MA
Rating:  Easy  
Features:  Summit, views, brooks, loop hike
Distance:  5.3 miles  
Elevation Gain:  250 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 2:45  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 3:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/03/2009 (Sunday)  
Last Updated:  12/10/2014  
Weather:  Partly cloudy, 40's
Author:  Bill Mahony
Companion:  Hunter (a dog)

View from North View outlook on Mount Pisgah (photo by Bill Mahony)

Route Summary   

This loop hike brings you to the summit of Mount Pisgah and along many trails throughout the Mount Pisgah Conservation Area. Although there are no views from the summit proper, there are easterly views from two outlooks – North View and South View – along the ridge.

To South View:
  • From the Smith Road parking area, start out in an easterly direction on the yellow-blazed Mentzer Trail.
  • Follow Mentzer Trail for 0.15 mile, then bear right onto the red-blazed Sparrow Trail.
  • Follow Sparrow Trail for 0.4 mile, going straight through a 4-way intersection with Berlin Road Trail.
  • At the next junction, which is with Tyler Trail, continue straight on Sparrow Trail for another 0.3 mile which will bring you to South View from where there are good views to the southeast.

To North View:
  • Go straight/left across the outlook point and onto the red-blazed Fisher Trail.
  • Follow Fisher Trail for 0.1 mile then turn right onto the green-blazed Vernal Pool Trail – but avoid a farther right turn onto Berlin Road Trail.
  • Follow Vernal Pool Trail for 0.35 mile until reaching a 3-way junction. Vernal Pool Trail continues on a sharp right, South Gorge Trail starts on a soft right, and Fisher Trail is straight/left. Bear right onto the red-blazed South Gorge Trail.
  • Follow South Gorge Trail for 0.3 mile, turning right at a junction with South Ridge Loop, and then bumping into Howard Ridge Trail.
  • Turn left onto the yellow-blazed Howard Ridge Trail and follow it for only 0.5 mile.
  • Where Green Street Trail leaves to the left, bear right/straight to pick up the blue-blazed Howard Brook Trail.
  • Follow Howard Brook Trail for 0.9 mile, bearing left at a junction about halfway through this segment.
  • Howard Brook Trail ends at Howard Ridge Trail. Turn left and follow the yellow-blazed Howard Ridge Trail for 0.05 mile.
  • When Howard Ridge Trail ends, turn left onto Berlin Road Trail.
  • After 0.3 mile, you will reach a 4-way intersection; keep straight on Berlin Road Trail.
  • After another 0.25 mile on Berlin Road Trail, turn right onto the white-blazed Summit Trail.
  • Follow Summit Trail for 0.1 mile to its end which is the official summit of Mount Pisgah.
  • Turn left onto the red-blazed Tyler Trail.
  • Walk on Tyler Trail for 0.2 mile until it ends upon meeting Mentzer Trail.
  • Turn right on Mentzer Trail for a few strides, then left onto North Overlook Trail which will bring you to North View in less than 0.1 mile. From here there are views east.

  • Continue north on a well-marked trail and keep bearing left at all the forks. After about 0.6 mile, this will bring you to a footbridge and trail convergence.
  • Continue straight on what is now Berlin Road Trail and follow it for 0.2 mile.
  • At the top of the hill turn left onto North Gorge Trail and follow the yellow blazes for 0.4 mile which will return you to Berlin Road Trail.
  • Turn left onto Berlin Road Trail and follow it for just 0.1 mile until reaching a 4-way intersection.
  • Turn right onto Mentzer Trail and follow it for 0.45 mile back to the parking area, going straight/right at the junction with Sparrow Trail.

Place         Split
Smith Road parking area 0.00 0.00
South View 0.85 0.85
Mt. Pisgah summit (715') 2.40 3.25
North View 0.30 3.55
Smith Road parking area 1.75 5.30


Click for the full trail map (it will open in a new window).   

Trail map of hike route to Mt. Pisgah in Northborough and Berlin, MA (map courtesy of Sudbury Valley Trustees)


  Trail Guide   

This is one of my favorite local hikes and places to run (off road). The trails are well established, well marked, easy to follow, provide varied terrain and are secluded (yet easy to get to). The elevation change going directly up to the summit of Mount Pisgah is small (50 feet), but the overall change on the series of trails can be in excess of 250 feet when the whole area is hiked. I've come here many times and Hunter (my dog) always loves the experience. Barebooting here in the winter provides good training for higher hikes in the spring.

I couldn't get to any real mountains this weekend because we moved to the city (Worcester) and I woke up just dying to get away from the noise for a while. The nice thing about this place is that you can do some nice hiking without the burden of a pack or water (if desired). This morning I decided to run/hike and wore my running shoes.

View from South View outlook on Mt. Pisgah (photo by Bill Mahony) The parking lot was empty and the morning was cool in the 40's, but I went with just a T-shirt and shorts, determined to get warmed up by work. The trails were a little damp, but the streams were slow and easy to cross. I made a stop to do some sit-ups to get my back stretched out and then followed Sparrow Trail uphill. I headed straight up Sparrow to the South View outlook to see if I could catch an early sun shot, but at 6:15 a.m. the sun was pretty high. The view is nice from here and I could see the old Design Pak water tower in Marlborough (where I grew up).

The trail down the other side of South View was new to me and I then followed Vernal Pool Trail, which I had also never done before. This trail loops back and forth and still had some downed trees from the storms, which is unusual in this conservation area because it is well used and volunteers are abundant. The vernal pool is not spectacular and I was surprised to see so little life in and around it at this time of year.

Next, I hooked up with South Gorge Trail which leads into a small gorge with a stream running down the center. There are some nice views of the gorge as you walk into it, but the views are not dramatic. As I made my way up Howard Brook Trail I was not looking forward to being finished so quickly so this is when I decided to extend my hike a bit. At the top where Howard Brook Trail meets Howard Ridge Trail, there is a pretty overlook of the newly budding woods 50 feet below, so I always pause to take a look here.

I followed Berlin Road Trail to Summit Trail. At the top of Summit Trail where it meets Tyler trail is the official summit, which isn't high nor does it offer a good view. Hunter began to lag a bit, maybe because he hadn't done a hike or run with me in two weeks. I was still feeling quite happy to be out and enjoying the solitude.

Just after the summit I got to the North View outlook point, which faces the same direction as South View. So I basically got the same photo from the two outlooks, except that the sun was higher in the sky for the second one. This part of the hike/run is in Berlin and is not marked as well as the Northborough part, but the trail is very easy to follow. As I made my way down the hill I was looking forward to my trip along North Gorge Trail and that trail did not disappoint. The views are pretty and overlook a brook and the trail eventually comes to the same level of the stream as the terrain climbs back up. The view in this area is quite dramatic in the winter season.

I had to get more moving done so it was time to head back to the parking area via Berlin Road Trail and Mentzer Trail. This area is fairly popular with hikers, dog walkers and mountain bikers, but I was fortunate to have the whole place to myself for the morning. Check out the map for many other hiking loop possibilities.

Brook and boulders along South Gorge Trail (photo by Bill Mahony)


MA - Central North

  Driving Directions   

The Smith Road parking area for the Mount Pisgah Conservation Area is located in Northborough, Massachusetts.

From I-495:
  • Take exit 26 for Rt. 62 West.
  • Travel on Rt. 62 West for about 2 miles to Berlin Center, and then bear left onto Linden Street at the blinking light.
  • Follow Linden Street for 1.6 miles and then turn left onto Ball Hill Road.
  • Follow the road, which becomes Smith Road, for 1.3 miles.
  • A small parking lot (signed) will be on the left.

From I-290:
  • Take exit 24 for Church Street, Boylston/Northborough and turn north toward Boylston and Clinton.
  • Just north of the highway, take your first right onto Ball Street.
  • Follow Ball Street for about 1.8 miles until it ends at Green Road, bearing right at a fork after about 1.0 mile.
  • Turn left onto Green Street.
  • Travel on Green Street for almost 0.5 mile, and then where Green Street veers to the left, bear right onto Smith Road.
  • Drive on Smith Road for about 0.3 mile.
  • A small parking lot (signed) will be on the right.

There are other parking lots around the conservation area, but this one is the most well marked and is central to the land.

About Mount Pisgah Conservation Area   

Mount Pisgah Conservation Area represents a collaboration of several organizations resulting in an attractive trail network. Mount Pisgah, at 715 feet in elevation, isn't much higher than the trailheads but it does offer good views east and southeast from a couple of outlooks on its ridge.

The property is mostly wooded with some hay fields and large meadows in the very northern section. There are brooks and lots of stone walls which attest to a past history of the land being used for farming. Wildlife seen here include bobcat, black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and squirrels.

The property is open for walking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, nature study, photography, and other quiet activities. Hunting is allowed on the Town of Northborough land, by permit only, and on the Massachusetts Fish and Game property.

Moving north to south, the Mount Pisgah Conservation Area consists of the following parcels.
  • Devine Conservation Restriction: privately owned property in Berlin with a conservation restriction retained by Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Town of Berlin.
  • Town of Berlin: managed by Berlin's conservation commission.
  • Town of Northborough: managed by Northborough Trails Committee.
  • MassWildlife, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game: located in Northborough at the southern end of the conservation area.

Sudbury Valley Trustees
18 Wolbach Road
Sudbury, MA 01776

Town of Berlin Conservation Commission
Berlin Town Hall
23 Linden Street
Berlin, MA 01503

Northborough Trails Committee
Northborough Town Hall
63 Main Street
Northborough, MA 01532

Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
Central Wildlife District
211 Temple Street
West Boylston, MA 01583

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