Gate 35 can be found on Old North Dana Road, in the East Quabbin (New Salem) just off of Route 122. If traveling south on 122, go past North and South Spectacle Ponds, and then look for the 45˚ turn to the right where you’ll see a sign for a local lumber company (Old North Dana Road). If traveling north, you will pass the Federated Women’s Club State Forest on your left, then cross into New Salem from Petersham and look for the 45˚ turn to the left which is Old Petersham Road. When you get to the “T,” you are at Old North Dana Road, where you would go left. Once on Old North Dana Road, follow it straight past the lumber mill entrance, and you’ll see the shiny, yellow gate labeled “35.”
So what’s today’s fun-fact for Gate 35, as I enjoy sharing (it seems) in almost every entry? Gate 35 is the shortest walk from parking to reservoir water anywhere in the North Quabbin, making it my choice setting for brisk walks with the kids.
Gate 35 is also one of those select locations that is aesthetically enjoyable regardless of season. While some places look better in summer or winter, and while others only look nice in this season or that, Gate 35 is a dazzling site any time of year.
After parking, you’ll walk through the gate and instantly be greeted with a choice of left or straight, accompanied by a DCR sign displaying relative information to the Quabbin and the Gate 35 borough.
Forking left will take you on an adventure of remarkable scope, meandering through the entire northern segment of the East Quabbin, connecting to the southern portion of the East Quabbin as well. It edges along the water for a few miles, offering stunning glimpses of the water and its radiant islands. Options to traverse east into the nadir peek at you with lavish regularity. The roadway at long last comes to a final turn at the edge of the North Dana Peninsula, across the water from Mt. L, and at the foot of Soapstone Hill, allowing you to skirt along its base.
Continuing straight, however, being the focus of this entry, will take you along a much shorter and family-friendly adventure that will surely goad as much enthusiasm and enjoyment in your children as would delving left, through the East Quabbin, would to any adult.
The long, spacious roads are moderately paved, with shifting asphalt here and there, but by no measure close to impossible to maneuver a stroller across. Along this trek you will see several character trees, assuming various shapes, twists, and growth patterns. The sunshade, at times, create wormhole-like tunnels in the distances, making it feel like you’re traveling through some sort of vegetative vortex.
After walking 2,000 feet (0.38 mile) you will have reached the Power Lines where you will see a road forking back to the right. This road is Blackington Road, leading back to Bassett Pond where you will also find Hackett’s Chimney. On the way, before you reach the chimney and, in fact, almost as soon as you re-enter the canopy, you will find an old tomb on the right. I forget the name of this location or the old cemetery that used to exist here, but this encapsulation was once used to store the recently deceased during the winter months so they could wait for the Spring thaw to bury them. The most I know is that the cemetery was located behind where this tomb presently exists.
However if, at this back-fork, you continue down the road, you will encounter a bend immediately at the end of which you will see the water to the Quabbin Reservoir, afore a seemingly small beach. From this point it is exactly half the distance to the water as you have, by this time, already walked. In other words, it’s 1,000 more feet to the beach and the water, marking this entire one-way journey as a 3,000-foot (0.57 mile) trip. The terrain is almost completely flat, with few subtle and virtually unnoticeable elevations and depressions along the way.
When you have finished this 1,000-foot stretch, you will be subject to an exquisite panorama. Emerging from the awning like a burrowing groundhog welcoming spring, the beach is reminiscent of a deserted island and beach lagoon, like on Gilligan’s Island.
In the spirit of what I had stated before, I’ve included photos of this area in a few different seasons, and at different times of day. Uprooted trees lay with roots extended in the air, reeds depose the foreground, and mist rises from the edges of the lagoon.
The beach offers fun for kids to play, being littered with rocks for skipping or tossing on the ice to see if it will break, while also offering a sense of relaxation for the adults to lay a blanket and have an afternoon picnic.
The sights out on the water include islands like Moore Island and Mt Russ, foliage here and there in all directions, and greenery lighting up the adjacent, sloping hills and mountains and islands!
In the winter you can hear the chiming of ice bumping into itself near the shoreline; in the summer you appreciate the calm, cool breeze shooting in from the water as if you were facing the Atlantic Ocean.
The residual life that persists rapidly gains a beauty of its own. It seems that each time I go to Gate 35, nothing ever looks the same, making it a dynamic site to visit with your family and friends frequently. As short of a walk as it is, it makes for an easy day out and a quick evening back to where you parked.
Rarely will you see more than one person at a time at this location. As I said, the terrain is very much stroller and kid-friendly, but if kids aren’t what you’re seeking to be around, and you want to simply enjoy the serenity of the Quabbin, remember that I’m the only person I know of who has ever brought kids out there, as I rarely see anyone at all.