The South Athol Conservation Area is 198 acres of land nestled between South Athol and White Ponds. It features trails, old cellars, and wetlands teeming with wildlife. The land also features a portion of the former Rabbit Run rail bed, which now serves as a lovely trail through wetlands. The Nature Conservancy’s analysis of resilient landscapes considers about half this property to be crucial for survival of native species in a changing climate. The South Athol Conservation Area abuts hundreds of acres of the former Morgan Memorial Fresh Air Camp, the majority of which has been protected by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
The South Athol Conservation Area is open to the public for non-motorized recreation including hiking and nature watching.
3800 South Athol Rd, Athol, MA 01331
Travel south on South Athol Rd from Athol center and the entrance will be on the right 1.1 miles south of the Route 2 overpass, between the intersections of Riceville Rd and Conant Rd. A Conservation Area sign at the driveway will point you down the dirt roadway to a small parking area on the right before the gate (private residence).
Parking is available on the right before the gate.
Town of Athol Conservation Commission
In 2014, Mount Grace was organizing a multi-landowner project east of the Quabbin Reservoir. The Stoddard and LeBlanc families, who owned abutting properties between South Athol Pond and White Pond, decided to participate as a way to honor their respective family legacies of long use and care of these special properties. Mount Grace was awarded a competitive state grant to protect these and other properties in what became known as the Quabbin Heritage Landscape Project. This MA Landscape Partnership Program grant funding enabled Mount Grace to facilitate the sale of the Stoddard and LeBlanc properties to the Town of Athol’s conservation commission. Collectively, the merged properties have become the South Athol Conservation Area. The Town of Athol and the Athol Bird and Nature Club were key partners in the effort to protect and steward this property. The Conservation Fund and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs provided critical financial support to this project.
“We are proud to have this land protected forever for all generations to enjoy the quiet solitude and beauty. Our land has been part of the Stoddard heritage for as long as we can remember. It has been handed down from our Great Grandfather Zenas, to our Grandfather Harry S. Stoddard, to his sons Clyde and Earl in the 1950’s. So it was very important for us to try and protect this land.” Ralph Stoddard and Gloria Meuse