***Special Notice - COVID-19 Update - Corps of Engineers updates preventative measures in place for COVID-19 at West Hill Dam
ANNOUNCEMENT: Army Corps of Engineers requires face masks at all recreation projects
As we work to slow the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reminds all visitors, volunteers and employees that a face mask is required in all USACE buildings and facilities. Masks must also be worn outdoors on USACE-managed lands and recreation areas if physical distancing cannot be met, such as when hiking on trails or visiting sites that may be popular or crowded.
Uxbridge/Northbridge, Mass. – West Hill Dam is implementing phased reopening of recreation areas access in accordance with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers policies and procedures, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and CDC. The following COVID-19 measures will be implemented at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers West Hill Dam in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
Effective June 1, 2020:
- Dam Site Parking Lots and trails will be open to the public. One portable restroom for public use, will be available on site.
- Other recreation facilities, picnic area, beaches, playgrounds, and trash receptacles, will remain closed to the public until further notice.
- The West Hill Dam Office will remain closed to the public until further notice. Access is limited to mission essential employees, shipping companies, contractors and essential service personnel.
- All USACE sponsored events, on-site interpretive programming and volunteer activities are cancelled until further notice.
- No new Special event or activity permits will be issued until further notice; those permits that have already been issued will be considered for revocation based upon latest Public Health guidelines.
These measures are necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), ensure and protect the health and well-being of our visitors, employees, contractors and volunteers, and safeguard our ability to continue our critical Flood Risk Management Operations.
The health of our team and the community is our top priority. We urge all visitors follow the CDC’s guidelines and remain diligent regarding hygiene and social distancing. CDC guidelines and more information can be found at www.conoravirus.gov.
West Hill Dam and Park remain open year round. Outside posted hours of operation, please feel free to park at the gates and walk in to enjoy your park. West Hill Park where the West River widens to form a large, natural swimming hole, known locally as Harrington Pool. Tables and grills are available for picnicking in two areas of the park, one near a beach and one under a grove of pines. The park also offers two sandy beaches, a change house and modern rest rooms. Two picnic shelters on a wooded knoll, with electric are available to groups for a small fee. A sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits and accessible playground are nearby. From the parking lot, a 1/2 mile, self-guided nature trail runs down along the river and loop back through the woods.
About two miles of hiking trails meander through the woodlands and provide secluded views of the river. Anglers will find trout in he main river channel and bass, pickerel and horned pout in the pools. Hunting for deer, small game and upland birds is permitted in accordance with state laws. Trout and pheasant are stocked by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Fees and Reservations
West Hill Park offers two shelters, one with ten tables that will accommodate a group up to about 100 people, while the other has 4 tables and hosts about 30 people comfortably.
- No fees. Shelter reservations will be taken in person only at the project office on a first come, first serve basis.
Park Rangers offer nature programs and are always available to answer questions.
The West River winds through some 567 acres of white pine and red oak forest, broken here and there by rolling meadows. Red maple swamps and several bogs fill the lowlands while three small brooks feed the river. Park Rangers manage the woodlands to improve fish and wildlife habitat.
Woods, fields, wetlands and streams provide habitat for both resident and migratory wildlife. Red fox, raccoon, deer and an occasional coyote find protection in the woods. Open fields attract rabbits, mice, butterflies, hawks and owls. Streams and wetlands are home to fish, spring peepers, box turtles and great blue herons, among others.
The diverse habitat makes it one of the finest birding areas in Worcester county with over 200 species sighted annually. Spring and fall migrations bring the greatest diversity of species, with waterfowl and wading birds resting along the river, while herons and rails poke among the stream side plants for food. Winter visitors can listen for hoots of early-nesting owls and look for flocks of sparrows, juncos, chickadees, cedar wax wings and golden-crowned king lets in the snow-covered branches.
NEARBY: Only a mile away is the historic Blackstone Canal. West Hill Dam is located within the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, an affiliated area of the National Park Service. The Corridor, which encompasses 20 cities and towns between Worcester, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island, is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.
- Updated: March 1, 2021