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Photo by the Fort River Watershed Association

Towns in the Fort River Watershed:

  • Amherst

  • Belchertown

  • Hadley

  • Pelham

  • Shutesbury

Major Tributaries:

  • Plum Brook

  • Hop Brook

  • Amethyst Brook

  • Adams Brook

  • Harts Brook

What's happening on the Fort River watershed?

Click here to find out! 

Organizations working in the Fort River Watershed​:

Fort River Watershed Association

  • Deputy Director for Policy
    Mass Rivers is currently seeking a Deputy Director of Policy. Please click here for a detailed job description and instructions for how to apply.
What Are People Saying?

What is a challenge working with the Fort River?

“The river is largely hidden from view and on private land, which makes it hard to invest the community in its preservation.”

What is your favorite memory of the Fort River?


“Watching my kids cover themselves in mud from the banks of the river and wash it off with glee at our favorite swimming hole.”

- Brian, Fort River Watershed Association

Fort River Activities
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Walk, Hike, Bike
Boating & Sailing
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Swimming is permitted in the Fort River, though it is sometimes dangerous near Amherst due to high bacteria levels. More information on safe swimming can be found here & here

Swimming locations:

  • Groff Park (Amherst)

    • For directions, click here. 

  • Off Stanley St. (Amherst)

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Walk, Hike, Bike

Hike, Walk, Run

Walking, hiking, and biking locations:

  • Amethyst Brook Conservation Area (Amherst) is a network of trails for walking, running, dog-walking, and biking.

    • Parking available on Pelham Road.

  • Groff Park (Amherst) includes a playground, wading pool, picnic areas, and ballfields.

    • Parking is available at 72 Mill Lane. 

  • Wentworth Farm Conservation Area (Amherst) has suitable areas for walking (dog-walking especially!) and running.

    • Parking is available at Kiwanis Field at 137 Stanley Street. 

  • Emily Dickinson Trail (Amherst) is a 1-mile dirt walking trail between Groff Park and the Norwottuck Trail parking area.

    • Parking is available at Southeast Street or Groff Park.

  • Lawrence Swamp and Hop Brook (Amherst) offers views of marsh and prairie ecosystems. This location is suitable for walking, biking, birding, and more. 

    • This location is ADA accessible.​

  • Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge (Hadley) has a 1.2 mile Fort River Nature Trail. There are benches and educational kiosks on site. 

    • Universally accessible. 

    • Parking is available at Moody Bridge Road.

  • Cadwell Memorial Forest (Pelham) is a great spot for casual hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing.

    • Parking is available off of Packardville Road. 


  • Wentworth Conservation Loop Trail (Belchertown) is an 0.8 mile hike with a relatively small climbing hill.

    • Parking is available across the street on Route 9 (same parking location as the Holland Glen Trail). 

For a Map of Fort River trails, click here

For birding information, check out: Bird Sightings at the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge.

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The Fort River is suitable for kayaks and canoes. Because the river is shallow, narrow, and often obstructed by trees, the Fort River Watershed Association recommends that it is only used by experienced paddlers. 

Paddling locations:

  • Pelham Road Crossing (Amherst)

    • For directions, click here

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Boating & Sailing


The Fort River is not suitable for boating or sailing.

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Fishing locations:

  • Old Mill Pond (Hadley)

    • For directions, click here.

  • Harts Brook (Hadley)

    • For directions, click here.

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