Puffers Pond
aka Factory Hollow Pond

Last Updated: 11/2017
      Puffers Pond has always been an area-swimming hole and attracts locals and college students mostly during the warm weather.  There are now a number of trails for hiking along the Mill river corridor.  Since the pond is small for paddling, consider a visit there a lazy summer day where you can hike, paddle, swim, and enjoy a picnic. Choose a different paddle if you want adventure.
        The town of Amherst has posted an enormous amount of information, including extensive history, on their website.  It would be difficult to improve upon their hard work.  Below are some excerpts.  Please refer to there’re website at: 

Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:    1 hour
Total Distance       0.75 miles
USGS Map: Williamsburg, MA (7.5’x15’)
Physical Features:
  • Area:                12 acres
  • Max depth:        20 feet
  • Average Depth:  5 feet
  • Transparency: 
  • Terrain Type: Wooded, Town Park, Homes, Conservation
Fish Population
  • Unknown 

Puffers Pond
     As a much loved and widely used natural amenity, Puffer’s Pond has been, and continues to be, an integral area that helps define North Amherst. The Pond is the largest open water body in Amherst and a prominent recreation area for fishing, birding, nature walking, canoeing, picnicking and swimming. Located approximately 3 miles north of the town center.  The pond’s users and uses have changed over time and today it is the centerpiece of a greenbelt conservation area that stretches from Route 63 east to the Amherst Town line bordering Shutesbury and Leverett. This riparian corridor includes the formal Mill River Recreation Area, foot trails that meander though the floodplain of the Mill River below the Pond, Puffer’s Pond, and Cushman Brook, which flows down from the hills of Shutesbury into the Pond.
     The variety of landscapes found along the Mill River, especially Puffer’s Pond, are highly valued by the public. Amherst residents, students, visitors and tourists enjoy Puffer’s Pond so much that they may be ‘loving it to death.’ 
     Puffer’s Pond and its river corridor is a “vestige of the community’s industrial heritage” (Amherst Bulletin, 2007). Although very few extant mills remain, sluiceways, mittens, foundations and building artifacts silently explain that this area was once the economic driver of Amherst. The amount of industrial activity along the Mill River earned the area its nickname of Factory Hollow, with Puffer’s Pond known as Factory Hollow Pond.
Puffers Pond Launch
Position: 42-24.94 N 72-31.05 W​
Boat Launch:
Car top launch near road at designated sign.
Nearest Launch Address:
171 State Street, Amherst, MA 01002
Put-In Directions (9.4 miles, 18 minutes):
From US Route 91 take exit 19 – Northampton Amherst:
  1. At the end of the ramp, turn right onto Route 9 East toward Hadley and Amherst.

     Park next to where Mill River enters the pond.
  2. At mile 4.6, turn left at stoplight onto Route 116 North toward Sunderland.
  3.  At mile 7.9, turn right at stoplight onto Route 63 North toward N. Amherst and Northfield. (aka Meadow Street and it becomes Pine Street)
  4. At mile 8.7, turn a slight left on State Road.  Mill River is on your left.
  5. Pass the Dam and look for the signs seen below. 
  6. At mile 9.3 arrive at Puffers Pond launch. ​After launching, find parking further down the road.
Carry your boat to the water from this point. 
A view of South Beach.
Such a beautiful dam with water cascading over it.
Puffer’s Pond Rules & Regulations

  • Puffer’s Pond hours are from 6:00am until dusk.
  • Swimming is allowed but no lifeguard is on duty - swimming is at your own risk.
  • The area around the dam and cliff are off limits. Insurance regulations require no trespassing, and trespassers will be prosecuted. Cliff jumping is prohibited.
  • No alcoholic beverages or smoking. 
  • No glass containers are allowed anywhere around the pond.
  • Children under 12 must have adult supervision.
  • Dogs are not allowed on the North Beach or South Beach or in the water itself. Dogs may swim upstream in the Cushman Brook or downstream in the Mill River. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
  • Fishing on shore is permitted - but people are encouraged to fish away from swimming areas. Fishing from canoes & kayaks is prohibited.
  • Non-motorized boats are allowed on the pond from 6:00am until dusk.
  • Parking is permitted as posted in parking areas and along the roadside. Parking is prohibited in front of gates as these entrances are for emergency vehicles and must be left clear. Parking is also prohibited between 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. Parking is not allowed on the south side of State Street between Sand Hill Road and the main entrance gate.
  • Stay on marked trails.
  • Please stay out of the water if you have any open cuts or wounds.
  • Skinny-dipping is prohibited.
  • No fires are permitted around the pond (including grills).
  • Group use of conservation land, for weddings or other functions, may be allowed with prior approval of the Conservation Commission.