Holt Hill

Andover, MA

Holt Hill is just one of the three hills that comprise the Charles W. Ward Reservation (Holt, Boston, Shrub). Nicholas Holt, an early Andover settler, was the property’s original owner. The land is now owned by the Trustees of Reservations. The scenery is incredible year-round and worth the effort to visit and look for yourself. 

Holt Hill features beautiful Boston skyline views, farm landscape, and the mysterious “solstice stones.” 


4. 13 Miles

Hike Time

1.5 Hours

We had a spectacular 4.13-mile hike up Holt Hill in Andover today. The 420′ hill is the highest point in Essex County and is part of the Trustees’ Ward Reservation. We were blessed with the sweet smell of fresh-cut hay and amazing views of the hazy Boston skyline in the distance.

From the top of the hill you can see Boston to the left along the horizon. Historic note: “On June 17, 1775, townspeople climbed to the top of the 420-foot hill to watch the burning of Charlestown during the Revolutionary War.”

This property is one of the best kept of the 35 that we have been on since the middle of March. We definitely want to come back in September/October for the fall foliage. 

I loved using the new camera on my replacement phone – my old phone decided to take a quick dip at Wingaersheek Beach along with the days’ photos.

The trail map.

I just heard the mullet was making a comeback so I'm really styling with mine.

The long and winding road.

Don’t miss the “Solstice Stones” at the summit. The stones are arranged in a low laying formation showing the points of the compass, the points of the summer and winter solstices, and the points of the spring and autumnal equinoxes.

The vegetation along the trail leading to the bog made it feel like we were visiting  Jurassic Park – it was taller than we were – cue the T-rex.

There was a cross with heavenly beams of light surrounding it as I neared the top of the stairway – alas, it was just a trail marker – I must have been a little light-headed from climbing those 59 steps!

My brother & I both thought there were some fantastic “climbers” for kids about midway up the hill. The thick, low-to-the-ground, beech branches would be perfect for a tire swing too. It brought back childhood memories of our grandmother’s giant beech tree on the Vineyard – we spent hours with our cousins climbing up and jumping out of that tree.

They were haying the field on the far right and the earthy smell of freshly cut grass and endless stonewalls also reminded me of many hot July days spent “Up Island” on the Vineyard. Its funny how certain smells are so closely tied to long ago childhood memories. 

The "Solstice Stones" at the summit of Holt Hill.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

― Jack Kerouac

We saw beautiful flowers all along the trail. Among them were sweet azalea, sheep laurel, bog arum, milkweed, and wild grapevine.

“What though the radiance which was once so bright, Be now forever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower, We will grieve not, rather find, Strength in what remains behind.”

William Wordsworth

Support the Cape Ann Community Foundation

David holding the Cape Ann Community Foundation’s license plate at the Ward Reservation trailhead. 

Show your love for Cape Ann and give back to the communities you call home by purchasing a Cape Ann license plate!

All proceeds to go to supporting the area’s local non-profits!