Tippling Rock, and finding Ford’s Folly

IMG 8462

Back in 2003 I tried to find Ford’s Folly, a dam built by Henry Ford in the late 1920s. At the time, Ford owned Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, and wanted to supply water from the stream running down the Nobscot mountain. As it turns out, the dam never really worked, although it’s a pretty impressive and imposing structure, lost in the woods above Sudbury. In 2003, I was unsuccessful in finding it; trail descriptions were pretty vague on the internet then, I took a wrong turn, and never found it. This weekend I decided to try again; everyone else was out of town so I had some time on my hands. The weather was brutally hot (~95), but the mountain is completely shaded so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. I also decided to combine the trip with a short climb to Tippling Rock, the highest point in Sudbury and one of the highest points in eastern Massachusetts, with a great view of Metrowest. On a clear day you can see the taller buildings in downtown Boston.

IMG 8399

Park at the trailhead parking lot on Rt 20, across the street and just west of the end of Horsepond Road. The trailhead is broad and heads due south. Be sure to take a trail map (this is a good one: http://www.sudburyvalleytrustees.org/sites/default/files/Nobscot.pdf), there are a lot of criss-crossing trails in the area. There are a few different parcels you will cross, the Weisblatt conservation land, the Boyscout’s Nobscott Reservation, and the Nobscott Conservation Land. Heading out from the parking lot, it’s a quick 20-30 minute stroll to the top of Tippling Rock. The elevation gain is very modest, about 500 feet. From there, I went down the back side of Tippling Rock and headed over towards the other parking area on Brimstone Lane, in the Nobscott Conservation Land.

IMG 8409

To get to Ford’s Folly, head across the road and pick up the trail again. IMG 8429Head down the hill, through a series of switchbacks. Then you’ll go a couple of hundred yards through some wetlands until you come to a fork in the trail. Last time in 2003, I went left. Wrong. This time I was going to try the right turn; between now and 2003, someone’s taken the trouble to put up a sign 8). Turn right and follow the trail for a quarter mile or so, and the trail will eventually take you to Ford’s Folly. The structure is still in amazing shape, maybe 100 yards across, even though it never held water. You can wander along the bottom to the other side, then come back along the top. There’s some interesting mechanical structures in the dam, and a rusted out car.

IMG 8445
IMG 8450

From Ford’s Folly, I came back the way I went; except for Tippling Rock there’s almost no climbing, it’s a pleasant stroll through the woods, and would be great for younger kids. Round trip, including dawdling at Ford’s Folly playing with the camera, the round trip took about 2 hours. You can see the path I took below, and see more details on Everytrail.

Tippling Rock and Ford’s Folly


EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking near Cambridge, Massachusetts

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *