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  A Walk in the Habitat Sanctuary
A Walk in the Habitat Sanctuary

What to Bring

Walking shoes   Windbreaker
Hat and
(in summer)
  Insect Repellent
(in summer)
Water   Snacks


From Boston, take Storrow Drive West
After driving past Harvard Stadium on the left, take exit for Fresh Pond Parkway
(signs for Route 2 and 3)
Stay on Fresh Pond Parkway through
several lights and two rotaries
At the second rotary, continue straight on Concord Avenue
Drive past the Belmont High School on your right, and turn right under the railroad bridge at the end of the avenue
Turn immediately left after the bridge, and continue straight through the light (steep
Watch for a small "Habitat" street sign on
the right about half a mile after the light
Continue straight on the street, then turn left at the fork on Juniper Road
Habitat is 0.1 mile further on the left
  Good to know in advance
Trails open daily, dawn to dusk

Visitor center open weekdays 8 am to 4 pm, weekends 10 am to 4 pm

Entrance fee: $4 per adult, $3 children 3-12 and seniors; free for Mass Audubon
Map available at the parking lot
Restrooms at the visitor center
Habitat Education Center and Wildlife
Sanctuary: 10 Juniper Road, Belmont MA
02478, Tel 617-489-5050
All pets strictly on leash for wildlife
Stay on trails
No smoking on the sanctuary grounds
Bring back your trash

ID Card

Overall rating: Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 1/5
  Time from Boston: 20 minutes
  Duration: A few hours

$4 per person

  Main activity:


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This walk will appeal to anyone looking for fresh air without a long drive out of the city. Here is a surprisingly quiet and secluded sanctuary on the doorsteps of Cambridge, Belmont and Arlington.

Like all Audubon sanctuaries, Habitat has a subtle atmosphere, with unobtrusive signs, clear information boards, and well maintained trails. For a sanctuary that is essentially in town, Habitat feels more remote from civilization than is actually is. You won't hear any traffic, won't cross any roads, and won't see many people there. The place is not huge but large enough for a few hours of walking, and interesting enough for a couple of repeat visits.

For families, an additional area of interest is the library at the visitor center (set in an old mansion), where children can browse through hundred of books on nature and wildlife. Mass Audubon organizes regular nature-oriented events and programs for children; inquire at the visitor center for an up-to-date program.

The loop described here allows you to walk through all the key areas of the sanctuary. Despite its only 87 acres, Habitat offers a mix of woodlands (hardwood and conifers) and open fields that is quite remarkable, not to mention the small garden behind the visitor center and the small greenhouse nearby.

Allow about an hour to an hour and a half for the loop depending on your pace and number of stops. The walk is essentially flat and offers no difficulty. The loop is suitable for strollers, except for a few steps and a rocky section, both of which are manageable with some patience.

Here are the detailed walking directions:
Take a map at the information board at the parking lot - it will make your life easier once on the trail
From the parking lot, take the road on the right towards the garage
Follow signs for Turtle Pond Loop on the right
At the pond, turn right to walk along the water edge
On the other side of the pond (small wooden sign with "E" in yellow), take the trail up on the right
At the next intersection, take the few steps on the right
Cross the stone wall and follow sign for Fern Trail
Turn right at the next intersection; you are on Highland Farm Loop
At the next fork (trail sign pointing towards where you come from), take right
Once in the meadow, continue straight to walk to the other end (since June 2004, part of the meadow is being roped for renovation - follow temporary signs if necessary)
Once closer to the information board near the road, take trail back under the trees on the left
At the next intersection, follow sign for visitor center on the right (short, rocky climb); you will then walk down to the greenhouse, turn right on the road, and walk back to the parking lot.
Entrance to the sanctuary is free for Mass Audubon members.
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