Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Snowshoe Race and Hike Saturday

READSBORO, Vt. — On Saturday, the annual Hoot Toot and Whistle 5K Snowshoe Race and Hike will once again trek from the area of the Whitingham Dam on the Harriman Reservoir down through Whitingham and ending at the Readsboro Central Elementary School. Race registration begins at 9 a.m. at the school’s gymnasium, Phelps Avenue, and concludes by 9:45 with the race scheduled to begin at 10. Registration forms and directions can also be found online by visiting: www.runwmac.com or you can fill out a registration form upon arrival at the school. For more information you can also contact the series founder, Bob Dion, at 802-423-7537.

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 413-863-3676, www.greatfallsdiscoverycenter.org. Open to the public Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All programs are free to the public unless otherwise noted. Facilities are accessible.

∎ Great Hall Art Display: landscape and nature photography by Tom Stratford. Through Jan. 31.

∎ Saturday, Jan. 25, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Winter Preschool Series: Who’s Been Here? Let’s find out. Join Janel Nockleby for stories, crafts, and a tracking adventure to find out who has been outside in the snow at the Discovery Center. For ages 3 to 6 with a parent or guardian. Siblings and friends welcome. If you enjoy our summer Kidleidoscope series, then this is a program that you will not want to miss/

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/

∎ Eagles in Winter; Quabbin Reservoir. Join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center naturalist Kim Noyes along with Jim Lafley on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., for an adventure focusing on eagles in winter. Where do they go and why? What challenges do they face prior to returning to their nests in late winter? This program will take place at Quabbin Reservoir, one of the most popular wintering areas in the state for bald eagles. Visit the Enfield Lookout to search for eagles as well as other wildlife. There will also be a short walk in search of animal tracks and sign. Dale Monette, program coordinator for the Massachusetts’ Department of Conservation and Recreation at Quabbin will make an indoor presentation on Massachusetts’ successful eagle restoration program and the life history of the bald eagle. The program will meet at the Quabbin Reservoir Visitors Center in Belchertown. Some carpooling required. Bring lunch, binoculars (a spotting scope if you have one) and dress warmly. This event is free and appropriate for ages 12 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Baker + Farmer = Local Whole Wheat Bread Baking Workshop. Join Green Fields Market’s Micah Roberts and Northfield Mountain’s Beth Bazler at the Trinitarian Church at 147 Main St. in Northfield on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Roberts’ passion for bread baking has “risen” during his 10 years at Green Fields Market bakery, where he creates offerings like Pear Gorgonzola Focaccia, Chocolate Coconut Joy, and Bacon Cheddar Bread, say organizers. Micah will share tips for working with whole wheat flour by using either yeast or sourdough; and participants will make two loaves to take home for baking — one that requires kneading and one that does not. The workshop begins with the story of the flour, which is grown in Northfield along the Connecticut River. How wheat came to be planted, harvested and ground on a local family farm will be shared by a Four Star Farms L’Etoile family member. Mixing, kneading, proofing and forming loaves will take place in the church’s commercial kitchen. This hands-on workshop offers participants the chance to talk with a professional about successful baking techniques and how this homey ritual can be fit into busy lives. Sourdough starter will also be available for participants to take home. Check out the baker and the farmer: www.facebook.com/BreadBakerRoberts, http://fourstarfarms.com/. The fee is $40 and includes ingredients. This event is appropriate for ages 12 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Lower Mountain Snowshoe Ramble; On the Edge with Wildlife. Saturday, Feb. 1, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Perfect for people who are just learning to snowshoe or establishing fitness routines; participants who are on the edge of learning new skills will investigate the edges of habitats. These places where fields meet wetlands and stream corridors wind through woodlands, are often wildlife hotspots and the group will attempt to discover which local animals use them and why. This shorter distance, lower-elevation ramble will be the perfect introduction to both snowshoeing and animal tracking. Bring water and snacks, wear wind pants or gaiters and dress in warm layers that can be shed as we get moving. Warm footwear is essential. All levels of experience are welcome. This event is free, $18 with snowshoe rentals and is appropriate for ages 9 and older. Please register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Upper Mountain Snowshoe Ramble; Porcupines and Stone Quarries. Saturday, Feb. 1, from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Explore animal tracks, porcupine signs and an abandoned 19th-century stone quarry. Learn tips on snowshoeing technique, equipment and clothing. A cup of hot cocoa by a fire will round out the afternoon. This moderately strenuous hike is approximately 2½ miles with an elevation gain of 400 feet. Bring water, snacks, wear wind pants or gaiters and dress in warm layers that can be shed. Warm footwear is essential. All levels of experience are welcome. For ages 12 and older. The event is free, $18 with snowshoe rentals. Please register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Valentine’s Day Full Moon Snowshoe. Friday, Feb. 14, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. On this adventure for lovers of the natural world, look for signs of local wildlife and learn which of them are in a mating mood. There will be piping hot cup of cocoa after the walk. Inspiring quotes, outdoor exercise and local fare. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary. Bring water, wear wind pants or gaiters if you have them and dress in warm layers that can be shed. In case of no snow, a moonlit hike will be offered. The fee is $5 or $21 with snowshoe rentals and is appropriate for ages 16 and older. Please register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Wildlife Tracking; Predators, Patterns and Prints. Join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center naturalist Kim Noyes on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. for Wildlife Tracking. Learn how to identify the tracks left behind by local wildlife. The stories they leave in the snow can offer fascinating glimpses into their mysterious lives. Perhaps we’ll find signs of fox and porcupine, or the elusive and secretive fisher? This outdoor program will include an introduction to common track patterns and helpful tips for observing prints as well as the opportunity to follow tracks and sign to learn more about an animal’s behavior. We’ll explore the trails, field edges and forests as we search for clues and discover which animals are active in winter. Participants should be in moderate shape and the program will include some off-trail tracking. If we are open for skiing, snowshoes are required. This event is for ages 12 and older and is free, $16 with snowshoe rentals. Please register by calling 1-800-859-2960.

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