Preserve, Restore, Discover

Wild & Scenic Westfield River

The Westfield River is so special that 78 miles have been designated Wild & Scenic by the U.S. Congress after extensive study and the support of the ten Wild & Scenic towns. Learn about this extraordinary resource.

For Landowners

You have an unparalleled opportunity to protect the river ecosystem.

For Towns

There are many ways we encourage towns to work with us to enhance the river.

Why Is It Wild & Scenic?


The Westfield River and its tributary streams are some of the best cold water fisheries in the Commonwealth with excellent water quality  supporting many native fish and other species. The river and its corridor support a large number of rare native plants and animals, offering critical and essential habitat for waterfowl, dragonflies, salamanders, otter and many large mammals. The Wild & Scenic segments of the river flow freely without barriers such as dams which is the keystone of a federal Wild & Scenic river designation.


The river has unique geological features, such as the Chesterfield Gorge, the largest gorge in Massachusetts, and other unique rock formations such as the Windsor Jambs. Several tributary streams have impressive waterfalls, cascades and small gorges including Glendale Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the state. The upper watershed is one of the largest roadless wilderness areas remaining in the state with connected wildlife corridors and darker skies.


For millennia, the river supported Indigenous peoples with its wealth of plant and animal life. In the Colonial period it brought water power for mills and early settlements. During the Industrial Revolution, the Keystone Arches, an engineering feat of mortarless stone bridges that span the West Branch, were built. The Keystone Arches are a part of the world’s first mountain railway, are designated a National Historic Landmark and still bear the weight of modern trains.

Outdoor Recreation

The Westfield River and tributaries offer four seasons of outdoor recreation including: fishing, hiking, wildlife spotting and paddling. In spring anglers catch wild brook trout and whitewater paddlers take on rushing water challenges. The country’s oldest whitewater kayak and canoe races, The Westfield River Wildwater Races take place on the Westfield each April. Abundant marshes, riverside meadows and forests offer bird watching, animal tracking, plant identification and more. There are marked trails to hike,  cross country ski and snowshoe on state, town and nonprofit parklands. Biking or running on the Hilltown’s quiet backroads provides an energizing workout and gorgeous scenery.

Who Are We?

The Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee, composed of representatives appointed by each of the ten Wild & Scenic towns along with partners including the National Park Service, works in partnership with local communities, municipal officials, conservation organizations and federal and state agencies to be good stewards of this shared natural resource. Through technical assistance, education, funding and careful planning, we are working to help everyone protect, restore and discover the Westfield River.

Riverwalks, talks, and adventures


Curious about the river and its contributing watershed? Interested in learning how to be a good steward of the river? Watch theses Wild & Scenic Westfield River Videos:

Walkin' the Watershed

Wild & Scenic Westfield River Committee Walkin' the Watershed with Burnsie.

Headwater Streams

The Wild & Scenic Westfield River committee is working to restore headwater streams.

Garlic Mustard Mission

Wild & Scenic 2021 Interns learn to identify and remove Garlic Mustard from naturalist John Burns.

The Westfield River and Indigenous Communities

We recognize and respect the indigenous peoples who were the original stewards of these lands and waters, as well as the diverse native community that lives here today.  We acknowledge that the original native peoples, such as the Pocomtuc, Nipmuc and Mohican were forcibly removed from these lands and suffered great losses. In recognition of their persistence on the land and their connections to the waters we steward in common, the Wild and Scenic Westfield River Committee will do its best to listen, learn, and grow.  As we are able, we will share what we have learned. This journey will be ongoing.