Trail Mix: Hikes and other nature activities

Guided hike to Hidden Valley Sunday

WENDELL — On Sunday, June 22, 1 to 4 p.m., there will be a guided hike to the Hidden Valley Conservation Area owned by Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. The hike begins at Wendell State Forest’s Ruggles Pond parking lot.

Please RSVP with Kate Losey MassLIFT AmeriCorp land stewardship coordinator at 978-248-2055 ext. 14 or

Tully Dam tour: Birds, Bats and Butterflies

The meadows around Tully Dam are alive with fliers — birds and bats lured to the more than 70 houses installed around the property by U.S. Army Rangers, plus butterflies lured to the sunshine and the flowers on the ground.

Area residents are invited to explore and learn more about this area on Saturday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to noon, meeting at the parking lot on Route 32 in Royalston. The program will include a short introduction by a resident U.S. Army Engineer and a field walk led by Carl Kamp, an avid naturalist and photographer and a past president of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club.

This free event is co-sponsored by the Royalston Open Space & Recreation Committee, the Athol Bird & Nature Club, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Participants should bring binoculars, cameras, comfortable walking shoes, sun screen, insect repellent and water.

Hard rain cancels the event. If in doubt, contact Kamp at 978-2499675 or by 9 a.m. Reservations are appreciated.

The Royalston Open Space & Recreation Committee is working to expand residents’ awareness of the open spaces in town; more information is available at

The Athol Bird & Nature Club is an active group of people sharing an appreciation of nature’s many forms. More information is available at

Northfield Mountain

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

∎ Saturday, June 21, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Summer Solstice Sunset Kayak at Barton Cove in Gill. At the summer solstice, poet Mary Oliver asks, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Perhaps we can begin by celebrating the birth of summer on a paddle through the sunset? Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer, known as Midsummer or the Summer Solstice. During this evening paddle, participants will explore some of the celebrations from around the world as well as the rich history and natural history of Barton Cove. Ancient waterfalls, historic log drives, dinosaur footprints and nesting bald eagles are unique to this peninsula, cove and “narrows” on the Connecticut River. This program is appropriate for both beginning and experienced paddlers. For ages 16 and older. Free with own kayak, $25/boat with kayak rental. Tandem kayaks available. Pleaseregister by calling 800-859-2960.

∎ Saturday, June 28, at Barton Cove in Gill, Family Eagle Expedition from 9 to 11 a.m. Using a tandem kayak is a great way for an adult and child to give paddling a try, say organizers, who add that visiting the Barton Cove Eagle nest is a good mini expedition for new paddlers. Kids can paddle as they are able and parents can provide the power and direction for the boat as participants try to glimpse eaglets on the nest, exercising before their first flight. The group will begin learning paddling basics on land, how to turn and go straight and then set off across the Cove. Bring along a snack and drink for when the group takes a break from paddling before returning to its starting point. No prior kayaking experience is required. Suggested gear list will be emailed to registered participants prior to program. For ages 7 and older. Fee: $20 per adult child pair. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 800-859-2960.

∎ Moth Night. Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center, Friday, July 11, 8 to 11:30 p.m. Learn about and observing moths and other night flying insects. The program will be presented by a team from the Athol Bird and Nature Club including naturalists: Dave Small, Lula Field, Betsy Higgins and Sue Cloutier. They will share their knowledge and enthusiasm for these amazing animals, beginning indoors with an introduction to moths and concluding outdoors observing moths attracted to lights and baited trees. With over 10,000 species in North America alone, moths offer endless options for study, education, photography and fun. Their diversity is astounding with a range of colors and patterns, shapes and sizes. Bring a camera and a flashlight. Free. Co-sponsored with the Athol Bird and Nature Club. For all ages. Please register by calling 1-800-859-2960. Please note: this program may end later than 11:30 p.m. depending on interest and enthusiasm.

∎ Eagle One on Board the Quinnetukut ll. On Saturday, July 12, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., board the Quinnetukut II Riverboat for a cruise with author Dianne Benson Davis. Davis spent four months living alone as a caretaker for eight baby bald eagles in the remote Quabbin Reservoir as part of an ambitious and successful effort to reintroduce the endangered bald eagle to the skies of New England. Her new book, “Eagle One: Raising Bald Eagles, A Wildlife Memoir,” is the story of her time with the eagles and the story of a woman’s life devoted to the care of wildlife. Davis also has many memories of banding eagles on Barton Cove Island. Davis has worked with and cared for countless animals at the Tufts University Wildlife Clinic and the EcoTarium. Bring your binoculars on board for this scenic cruise on the Connecticut River, which will pass two active eagle nests. Free with Qll Riverboat ticket ($6 child, $12 adult, $11 senior). Please call 1-800-859-2960 to egister. It is important to call soon because the boat fills up fast.

∎ 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 1-800-859-2960.

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:

∎ In the Great Hall: Natural Images by Mary Hayes-Siegrist, through June 30

∎ Saturdays, June 22, 29. Canal-side Nature Walk. Meet outside the main entrance at 8:30 am. We will leisurely explore level, paved bike trails and village sidewalks to learn about plants, animals and mill town history.

∎ Thursday, June 19, 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. Turners Falls Third Thursday: Barton Cove Eagles & Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center Annual Meeting. What happened to the Barton Cove eagles? Join William Dean, avid eagle watcher to find out! He will present stunning photographs of the Barton Cove eagles from the last couple of years as they grew from egg to adult. He will also share stories and videos from his adventures. A short annual business meeting for the Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center will occur immediately before the program.

∎ Sunday, June 22, 2 to 3 p.m. Watershed History: The Great Hall. Originally built as a machine shop during the early days of industrialization in Turners Falls, the Great Hall building of the Discovery Center has a great story. We will investigate tales of machines, fly fishing rods, historic preservation and more.

∎ Friday, June 27, 2 to 4 p.m. Watershed Wonders: Migration. A story hour with crafts and activities focusing on the Connecticut River watershed. For ages 6 to 8, with a parent or guardian. This month’s topic is migration. Birds, fish, and butterflies are on the move. Where are they going? Where have they been?

∎ Saturday, June 28, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bike Path Bingo Canal-side Nature Walk for Kids. Kids, grab your parents, bug spray, and sunscreen and then we’ll go exploring. All ages are welcome as we practice examining the natural world with field guides, binoculars, and a fun game to see just how much you can see.

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