Your Time: Northampton ‘Dog Park’

Last modified: Thursday, June 25, 2015

The grounds of the former Northampton State Hospital, bounded by Burts Pit Road to the south and the Mill River to the north, are a rolling mix of open and wooded land. The conservation area, affectionately known to locals as the “dog park,” is actually owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and designated for agricultural use. It is leased by the city of Northampton through the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, which farms parts of the 280 acres. Since the closing of the hospital in the early 1990s, the land has been host to non-commercial recreational activities like dog walking, hiking and even an 18-hole disc golf course. And for the past 28 years, spring to fall, runners have gathered each Tuesday night for a 5k race on the scenic trails.

James Schieffelin of Florence, a veteran of those weekly races, has been bringing his 8-year-old Huskie mix, Dulce, here almost every day since she was 2.

“We make friends with the other dog owners and she knows who all the soft touches are for treats,” Schieffelin said. “She has friends that she meets and runs around with and I meet friends — that I just know here — and we yak about whatever.”


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