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Day Trip — Quabbin Reservoir

The Quabbin Reservoir, a primary source of the Boston area’s drinking water, holds 412 billion gallons when at full capacity. But the Quabbin is more than just the state’s largest inland body of water: It’s a excellent destination for sightseeing, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling and other outdoor recreation, including limited hunting.

Just don’t plan on swimming or wading, and if picnicking, remember to leave your pets at home and to carry out everything you’ve carried in. And always remember to avoid polluting the water in any way.

The reservoir, created in the 1930s by building two earthen dams that flooded an area containing four towns, offers some amazing scenic views. The shoreline stretches for 181 miles through Belchertown, Pelham and several other towns, offering extensive vistas of forest, fields and hills.

Any fishing enthusiasts who haven’t visited the reservoir’s 39-square-mile surface might find it irresistible after a first trip. Each of the three boat launches has 20-25 vessels ready to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. Prices vary if boaters prefer a motor; costs can be up to $40 for a full day, though that does not include oars, gas and life preservers.

Launch locations are open all week, 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. through August 5. Closing hours change to 8 p.m. from Aug. 6 through Aug. 26. Parking is $6 for cars, or $8 for a car and trailer, at all boating sites, including the one at the Quabbin Visitor Center at 485 Ware Road (Route 9) in Belchertown.

Maps to all the reservoir’s access gates and where they lead to (and what is permitted in these locations) are available online at www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/quabbin.htm.

Directions: From Northampton, take Route 9 east across the Coolidge Bridge into Hadley, then turn right onto Bay Road. Follow Bay Road through Hadley, Amherst and Belchertown, where it rejoins Route 9 about a half-mile east of the intersection of routes 9 and 202. Continue on Route 9 east through the intersection and go three miles to Winsor Dam Road; it’s on your left and marked by the sign “Quabbin Reservoir — Winsor Dam.” Follow that road a half mile to the Quabbin Visitor Center, which will be on your right.

— Marc Latour

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