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On the Trails: Arthur Iversen Conservation Area

Posted Monday, December 5, 2022
— News

Hike to the Devil’s Washbowl

By Allen Young & Clare Green

The Arthur Iversen Conservation Area in Warwick is one of the first conservation projects completed by Keith Ross, founder of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust.

This nearly 600-acre place is paradise for anyone who enjoys our region’s forests, especially when brooks and wetlands and waterfalls are included. There are some nice trails – and of course plenty of opportunity for bush-whacking, too.

The Devil’s Washbowl, the best-known feature in this land, is a small but memorable waterfall that is a perfect satisfying destination. I know that I am not alone in being partial to waterfalls! In my case, it’s connected to my childhood as I grew up a quarter-mile from a waterfall in Glen Wild, NY that I visited as often as possible all through my youth.

I have hiked to the Devil’s Washbowl numerous times, including one time in 2016 when I led a congenial group of local people and outsiders with Warwick resident Clare Green, a devoted educator and naturalist. Clare and I enjoy leading hikes together, in part because we each bring our own unique perspective, but you don’t need a leader to go to the Devil’s Washbowl. (At the end of the article you can read a poem that Clare wrote to commemorate our hike.)

According to the Mount Grace webpage on Iverson (Link HERE), “Protection of the area began in 1988 when Myra Iversen worked with Mount Grace to develop a conservation plan for her property in honor of her late husband, Arthur.” 

I launched a newsletter for Mount Grace members around that time, and it included a photo I took with a Polaroid camera (property of the Athol Daily News, where I was a reporter) of Mrs. Iversen in an easy chair as she conversed with Keith Ross. On the webpage you can find more info and a map – easily downloaded and printed – which will help you when you go on a hike.

The top of the map is the north end, and the trail to the Devil’s Washbowl can be accessed there (from Gale Road, just a few yards off Athol Road near the center of Warwick).

The official trailhead is further south on Gale Road, so given two different starting points and the quiet gravel road between them, hikers can choose between a short back-and-forth hike of less than a mile and a longer loop hike of about two and one-half miles.

Bobby Curley of the North Quabbin Trails Association helped develop the trail system and there are blue blazes to assist hikers. Heading into the woods from the northern end, you go up and down mildly hilly terrain, and soon the small waterfalls is visible. It is accessed by a short spur trail, a downward slope. To continue on the loop for the longer hike, return to the main trail and go to the top of the hill, cross Hodge Brook, and make your way through the woods back to Gale Road.

I like going down the slope right up close to the washbowl, where sometimes there’s lots of water and sometimes a mere trickle. There are some nice rocks to sit on to enjoy a picnic. When the water is least, there’s less drama and sound, but there is more opportunity to observe the beautiful curved erosion into the rock.


Clare Green’s poem:

Devil’s Washbowl Walkabout   10/30/16

Co-leaders Allen Young and Clare Green

MGLCT Sponsor w/ AmeriCorps Fletcher Harrington

Sly Remembrances with heartfelt thanks to all:


D…Diwali festival day with narry a diabolic trick, only the washbowl awaits

E…energetic 16 trekkers journey

V…vivid green ferns and moss salute us from their granite perches

I…Iversen, Myra, gifted MGLCT this parcel of over 500 acres 

L…leaves of golden beech echo fall this October 30 overcast day

S…simply spitting rain upon us at trail’s end by 3:45


W…Warwick’s wonder delights us all

A…Allen and I co-lead a 2.6 mile hike

S…sweet visions of snags and stumps hint to whimsical trolls’ homes

H…heralding nature’s timeless treasures

B…barefoot Emil scampered freely on the trail and peered out from a hollow tree

O…outdoors adventuring in geologic beauty

W…window to remnant grist and lumber mills

L…lookout for blue gentian flower by pond’s edge, while chickadee calls.