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Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Northfield hike Sunday

NORTHFIELD —Northfield Area Hikes will host a moderately paced hike in the woods Sunday. (Editor’s note: The printed version of Trail Mix that ran Thursday, July 17, had the incorrect day.) Hikers will meet behind the Northfield Town Hall at 1 p.m. for car-pooling to the hike trailhead and return by 3:30 p.m. School-age children are welcome but please leave the family dog at home. For cancellation or more information, call Sam Richardson at 413-498-5931.

Count competition Saturday

NORTHFIELD —Join a team of families, volunteers, and local wildlife experts in a friendly competition to count the most species of plants, animals, and fungi. Dickinson Memorial Library, 115 Main St.. Drop-ins welcome, but RSVP if possible: Kate Losey, 978-248-2055 ext. 14, steward_americorps@mountgrace.org

River Walk rescheduled

TURNERS FALLS — Join the Connecticut River Watershed Council at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22, for an evening with geologist Steve Winters and international sturgeon expert Boyd Kynard. This event was rescheduled. Explore the rocky formations in the Connecticut River below the dam and travel to a second site off Migratory Way to talk about geology and the life history and challenges of the endangered shortnose sturgeon. Meet in the parking lot of the Great Falls Discovery Center. Bring your own dinner or snacks to share at our second site (optional). You should have proper footwear and ability to traverse rocky and uneven terrain. Heavy rain cancels. Registration in advance preferred but not required; contact Andrea Donlon at 413-772-2020 ext. 205 or adonlon@ctriver.org.

Northfield Mountain

99 Millers Falls Road (Route 63), Northfield. 413-659-3714 or 800-859-2960. Owned and operated by FirstLight Power Resources. www.firstlightpower.com/

∎ Totally Tree-mendous: Gnomes Knoll. Gnomes knoll is an evolving space for free nature play at Northfield Mountain, which is close enough to the Visitor Center to allow for access via stroller and far enough away to feel like an adventure for young children. On Friday, July 25, from 10 a.m. to noon, join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s Beth Bazler for tree-related activities, games, unstructured play and tree-sourced snacks. For ages 3 and older. Free. Register by calling 800-859-2960.

∎ Ferns of the Forest. Saturday, Aug. 2, 10 a.m. to noon. Join Northfield Mountain Naturalist Kim Noyes and discover some key characteristics that can be used to identify fern species while exploring the rocky trails and landscape of Barton Cove. Along the way, we’ll meet Christmas fern, the beautiful maidenhair fern as well as the unusual walking fern. We’ll walk through an historic dinosaur quarry, which features tracks left by dinosaurs in a tropical Jurassic fern forest from 200 million years ago. The program will begin at the picnic area in Barton Cove’s day-use area and meander along the shady and scenic trails for approximately a mile. This program may include some short sections of off-trail walking. Wear sturdy walking shoes, bring a hand lens if you have one, and binoculars in case we spot eagles. This is a free event and is appropriate for ages 14 and older. To register, call at 800-859-2960.

∎ Astronomy Conjunction. On Friday, Aug, 22, and Saturday, Aug. 23, Northfield Mountain will host the 30th Annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomer’s Conjunction. Enjoy the camaraderie of amateur astronomers learning and observing together at Northfield Mountain. Held during the dark of the moon, the weekend will be jam-packed full of slide presentations, talks, and Friday and Saturday night sky viewing through telescopes of all shapes and sizes. Check out the conjunction website at: http://www.philharrington.net/astroconjunction/. Registration forms available from Richard Sanderson at rsanderson@springfieldmuseums.org or by writing Jack Megas, Astronomy Conjunction, 311 Surrey Road, Springfield, MA 01118. For ages 12 and older.

∎ Trees at Riverview: Come to Riverview Picnic Area in Northfield on Saturday, Aug. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon for a walk exploring tree identification and lore. Discover which species was featured on a 1600s coin, what wood is best for baseball bats and which trees are most valued by wildlife. This walk will explore both bottom-land hardwoods and an upland mixed forest. Learn how to identify a variety of tree species common to our landscape by looking at bark, branching patterns, leaves, nuts and habitat. This leisurely stroll will meander along the river and quiet, country lanes. The program will meet beneath the shade of the towering sugar maples at the Riverview picnic area in Northfield, across from the Visitors Center. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes. This is a free event and is appropriate for ages 10 and older. To register, call 800-859-2960.

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Avenue A, Turners Falls. Open 7 days a week,10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All programs are free to the public unless otherwise noted. 413-863-3221 On the web at: www.greatfallsdiscoverycenter.org

∎ In the Great Hall: “Women Painters of GCC:” Frankie Dack, Marti Olmstead, Mari Rovang, Susan Valentine and Sandy Walsh, through July 31.

∎ Tuesdays, July 22, 29, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Kidleidoscope. Every Tuesday morning, each program includes a story, interactive games, and a craft to introduce you and your child to wildlife along the river. Recommended for ages 3 to 6 with a parent or guardian.

∎ Sundays, July 20, 27, 8:30 a.m. Canal-side Nature Walk. Meet outside the main entrance. Leisurely explore level, paved bike trails and village sidewalks to learn about plants, animals and mill town history.

∎ Mondays, July 21, 28, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Junior Rangers is a four-part nature education workshop for young naturalists ages 8 to 11. Become a Connecticut River watershed expert and find out who lives along the canal-side bike path in Turners Falls. Children and parents should meet at the Discovery Center lobby. Free. Friends and siblings welcome. Space is limited so please register. Each day will have a theme related to the Connecticut River watershed.

∎ Saturday, July 19, 9 a.m. Montague Sand Plain Hike. Come learn about the story of fire on the Montague sand plain. Your chance to explore a unique habitat designed by fire, ice and sand. Find sand dunes, scrub oak, pitch pine, and blueberries. Join a DCR park interpreter for an introduction to the fauna, flora, and geology of this amazing and threatened habitat. Easy-to-intermediate difficulty hike. Bring water, bug repellent and sunscreen. Free. Meet at the Great Falls Discovery Center to carpool to the site.

∎ Friday, July 25, 2 to 3 p.m. Watershed Wonders: Secrets Inside Vernal Pools. A story hour with crafts and activities focusing on the many wonders of life in the Connecticut River watershed. For ages 6 to 8, with a parent or guardian. This month’s topic is the secrets of vernal pools. Who’s in there?

∎ Saturday, July 26, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bike Path Bingo! Canal-side Nature Walk for Kid. Kids, grab your parents, bug spray, and sunscreen, and then we’ll go exploring. All ages are welcome. Practice examining the natural world with field guides, binoculars and a fun game.

∎ Thursday, July 31, 5 to 7 p.m., Artist reception: “Women Painters of GCC:” Frankie Dack, Marti Olmstead, Mari Rovang, Susan Valentine, and Sandy Walsh. The paintings include landscapes of the Pioneer Valley.

Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust

1461 Old Keene Road, Athol, 978 248-2043 www.mountgrace.org

∎ Hike New Devil’s Washbowl Loop, Warwick. Friday, July 18, 3 to 6 p.m. Meet at Devil’s Washbowl Trail Head. Trail Stewards at Arthur Iversen Conservation Area have completed a loop back to Gale Road on the Devil’s Washbowl Trail. Come join Mount Grace and the Trail Stewards for a hike of the new extension Hike is 2.5 miles and is open to all ages, best for ages 8 and up. Directions: From Warwick Center, head east on Athol Road and follow it 0.8 mile to another right on Gale Road. Continue along Gale Road for 1 mile to the Devil’s Washbowl Trail Head on the right. Please park on the left side of the road.

∎ Blueberry Hunt and Hike at Skyfields, Athol. Saturday, July 26, 4 p.m. 1461 Old Keene Road. Directions: From downtown Athol take Route 32 north. Cross the bridge over the Millers River and bear right onto Chestnut Hill Avenue. After less than one-third mile, bear left at a fork onto Old Keene Road (there is a fire hydrant at fork). Skyfields is about 1.5 miles north on right side.

∎ Hike Fern Glenn with Mount Grace, Winchendon, Sunday, Aug. 3. 1 to 4 p.m. Hike Fern Glenn Conservation Area, a 130-acre property with a boreal swamp and talus slopes. Directions: From Route 140 in Winchendon, turn west onto Teel Road. A quarter-mile from this turn, see an inconspicuous dirt drive on the left between two houses. Turn south on this gravel road and proceed another quarter-mile to the large clearing and parking area.

∎ Volunteer Events. Best for ages 8 and up. Work gloves provided. Please bring water. For questions: contact Kate Losey, 978-248-2055 ext. 14 or steward_americorps@mountgrace.org. Monday Weeds Madness, Whitney Memorial Forest, Winchendon, July 21, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Meet in the parking lot on Benjamin Road (off River Road). Monday Weeds Madness, South Street, Petersham, July 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Meet at the intersection of South Street and Nichewaug Road. Monday Weeds Madness, Northfield (please RSVP for address). Aug. 4, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

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