About Brewster's Woods

View of the Concord River from Davis Hill in autumn at Brewster Woods Wildlife Sanctuary

Brewster's Woods Wildlife Sanctuary is a 130-acre property along the banks of the Concord River.

This historic site was formerly part of the country homestead of William Brewster (1851-1919), an early leader in American ornithology and curator at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology—and the first President of Mass Audubon.


In the early 1890s, William Brewster purchased the 300-acre October Farm in Concord as a respite from his city life in Cambridge. Here he embarked on extensive field work taking full advantage of the forest, meadows, and extensive wetlands on the banks of the Concord River. Learn more >

The sanctuary is predominantly forested with extensive wetlands on the eastern side and smaller wetlands throughout. Two sizeable meadows provide some open habitat, while the floodplain forest along the Concord River hosts the most abundant natural diversity found on the property. A large riverside marsh was apparently created by William Brewster to provide habitat for ducks and other water birds.

Mass Audubon takes our responsibility to steward and share this land very seriously, and have embarked on a multi-year process to understand the ecological systems, mission-oriented opportunities, and community benefits that the property offers. At the heart of our vision is a commitment to protecting and stewarding the land for wildlife habitat and climate resilience, and to ensuring that the sanctuary remains a peaceful place for both people and wildlife.

Our plans include repurposing the main house as a nature center to welcome visitors, allow space for scientists and scholars to collaborate, share the life of William Brewster and his role in the conservation movement, and showcase our world-class American bird art collection. The addition of an All Persons Trail will allow people of all abilities to experience nature in the same way. Our facility will be a model for climate-friendly buildings, along with serving as an inspirational home for the community and conservation experts to explore solutions to the biggest environmental challenges of our time. We look forward to sharing our progress as the planning process moves forward.  


Balls Hill Road, Concord, MA
Get directions or contact us >


Trails: Open every day, dawn to dusk (no restrooms)

→ For your safety and to avoid conflicts with wildlife, please follow our sanctuary guidelines during your visit and leave dogs and other pets at home.


Free, donations appreciated


Parking (very limited)



Trail Mileage

1.6 miles
Details & map >

Sanctuary Highlights

  • Wetland impoundment created by William Brewster to attract waterfowl, with plentiful ducks, herons, and other breeding and migrating water birds.
  • Notable wildlife frequently found on the property include fisher, beaver, Eastern Bluebirds, and Pileated Woodpeckers.
  • Part of a conservation area spanning more than 1,700 acres—October Farm Riverfront to the south (jointly managed by the Concord Land Conservation Trust and the Town of Concord), Estabrook Woods to the west, and Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge across the river.

Property Regulations

All of the land at our wildlife sanctuaries is protected. By conserving these open spaces, Mass Audubon, along with our members and partners, is able to fulfill its mission of protecting the nature of Massachusetts.  

  • No dog walking or horseback riding; please leave all animals and pets at home (service animals welcome
  • No walking off trail  
  • No collecting or picking natural items
  • No bike riding or operating motorized vehicles; day passes are available for powered mobility devices   
  • No running, swimming, or camping 
  • No operating drones or other remote-controlled vehicles   
  • No fishing, hunting*, trapping, or releasing of animals   
  • No feeding wildlife   
  • No smoking 

 NOTE: Our buildings are currently not open to the public; please respect signage indicating areas that are only open to Mass Audubon staff.

* As part of our habitat management efforts, limited archery hunting for White-tailed Deer by a small group of invited hunters is permitted at Brewster’s Woods during the state-approved season (early October through December). State law prohibits hunting on Sundays. Learn more >