Trail Mix: a list of nature activities in our area
Nature walk at Fox Valley Wildlife Sanctuary Saturday
PILLIPSTON — Naturalist Sue Cloutier will lead a nature walk through Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust’s Fox Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to examine, and catalog wildflowers and insects in the 6.5-acre clearing at the trailhead. She will be joined by Mount Grace Stewardship Biologist Tom Wansleben, who manages Fox Valley and helped design the 2010 timber harvest that created the clearing. Bring cameras and close-focus binoculars if you have them.
Fox Valley (which was given its name by students of the Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at its dedication in 1990) is a 100-acre woods covered with mixed New England hardwoods and conifers. Streams and small watercourses run through the property, which is frequented by moose and bear, as well as plentiful insect and bird life in the clearing.
Meet at 10 a.m. at the Fox Valley Trailhead on Lincoln Road in Phillipston. Free. For directions, more information, or to RSVP, contact David Kotker at 978-248-2055 ext. 19, or RSVP online at mountgrace.org.
Great Falls Discovery Center
2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 413-863-3676, www.greatfallsdiscoverycenter.org. Open to the public 7 days a week from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. All programs are free to the public unless otherwise noted. Facilities are accessible.
∎ In the Great Hall: Photography by David Albeck, July 1 to 31.
∎ Sunday, July 28, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Canal-Side Nature and History Walk. Meet outside the main entrance at 8:30 am. We will leisurely explore level, paved bike trails to learn about plants, animals, and mill town history. Your interests will determine our focus — perhaps birds, fish, wildflowers or industrial history. Bring water, bug repellant and sun screen.
∎ Sunday, July 28, 1 to 3 p.m. Habitat Highlights Museum Tours. On demand, every half hour on Sundays, just ask for a tour at the front desk. Explore the center’s Connecticut River watershed dioramas in a guided tour of the special habitats along the river. Each habitat plays a vital role in creating a home or rest stop for the thousands of animals and plants that depend on the watershed.
∎ Monday, July 29, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Junior rangers is a four-part nature education workshop for young naturalists ages 8 to 11. Children with a parent or guardian should meet at the Discovery Center lobby at 10:30 a.m., and each day we will explore themes related to the Connecticut River watershed. Junior Ranger programs are free and open to all, but space is limited so call 413-863-3221 to register.
∎ Tuesday, July 30, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Kidleidoscope is a kid-friendly, environmental experience for young children. Each topic is based on the theme “we share our home” and includes a story, interactive games and craft activities to help children explore the natural world. For ages from 3 to 6 years, accompanied by an adult.
∎ Thursday, July 25, and Aug. 1, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Junior Refuge Explorers is a four-part nature investigation for children ages 8 to 11. Each week, there will be hands-on explorations, games, and activities that will allow children to actively learn about the Connecticut River and the many critters that live in its watershed. Children who complete the program will get official badges identifying them as Junior Refuge Managers. There is a maximum of 10 children so register early at 413-863-3221.
∎ Friday, July 26, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Discovery Hour: Cool Caterpillars. Young children ages 3 to 6 and their parents are invited to join refuge staff. Be ready to be crafty and have fun.
∎ Friday, July 26, 6 p.m. Watershed History: Brickyards. Local industrial-era mills, businesses, tenements and homes were built from the ground up — quite literally from the clay found on the banks of the Connecticut River right here in town. Come learn about local brick manufacturing and architectural styles and designs with brick in Turners Falls.
∎ Saturday, July 27 (all day) Upper Valley Music Festival. We are one of several venues in Turners Falls for this great yearly all day music festival that raises money for cancer research and features great talent. www.uppervalleymusicfest.com
∎ Saturday, Aug. 3, 1 to 2 p.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.
∎ Sunday, Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Canal-Side Nature and History Walk. Meet outside the main entrance at 8:30 am. Leisurely explore level, paved bike trails to learn about plants, animals, and mill town history. Your interests will determine the focus — perhaps birds, fish, wildflowers, or industrial history. Bring water, bug repellent, and sun screen.
∎ Tuesday, Aug. 6, 13, 20, 27, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Kidleidoscope is a kid-friendly, environmental experience for young children. Each topic is based on the theme “we share our home,” and includes a story, interactive games, and craft activities to help children explore the natural world. For ages from 3 to 6 years, accompanied by an adult. This month’s topics include: dragonflies, rabbits, coyotes, and butterflies.
∎ Friday, Aug. 9, 7 to 9 p.m. Great Falls Coffeehouse Presents: Banish Misfortune, a six-piece group of musicians in Western Massachusetts that plays traditional music from Ireland, with occasional forays into tunes from Scotland and Cape Breton. Instruments includes fiddle, concertina, flute, mandolin, accordion and guitar. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., concert begins at 7 pm. Refreshments available. Museum and museum store open at intermission. Donations ($6 to $12 suggested) help the Friends support free programming at the Great Falls Discovery Center.
∎ Saturday, Aug. 10, 10:30 a.m. to noon. “Watershed Investigators” is a monthly kid-oriented program that focuses on hands-on discovery of local nature. Methods of discovery may include crafts, games, stories, and exploration. Geared toward grades 2 to 5, but everyone is welcome.
∎ Saturday, Aug. 10, 2 to 6 p.m. Turners Falls Block Party. Join us on Avenue A as we join the fray, and in the Great Falls Discovery Center for activities, displays, and crafts about the natural world during this town-wide celebration of Turners Falls.
∎ Saturday, Aug. 17, 1 to 2 p.m., Watershed History. What was so grand about the Grand Trunk Hotel in Turners Falls? Come to the Great Falls Discovery Center to find out! Right next to where the center is today, the hotel was built in 1872 and taken down in 1968.
∎ Friday, Aug. 23. 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Discovery Hour: Slithery Snakes. Young children ages 3 to 6 and their parents are invited to join refuge staff as we discover different things about local wildlife and the places they live. Be ready to be crafty, have fun, and bring your imagination as we explore the natural world around us.
∎ Saturday, Aug. 24, 1 to 2 p.m. Watershed History: The Story of 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.
∎ Saturday, Aug. 31, 1 to 3 p.m. Water Under the Bridge Bike Tour. Join us for a leisurely two-hour bike tour along the Turners Falls Bike Path that highlights the history of the bridges in Turners Falls and Montague City. Come learn about the many challenges associated with getting over the Connecticut River historically in our villages. How do these challenges compare with our current Gill-Montague bridge construction experiences? We will meet at the main entrance to the Great Falls Discovery Center. Bring your bike, water, bug spray, helmet, and sun block.
99 Millers Falls Road (Route 63), Northfield. 413-659-3714 or 800-859-2960. Owned and operated by FirstLight Power Resources. www.firstlightpower.com/
∎ Dynamite, Whiskey & Wood; Logging Tales on Board the Quinnetukut, Saturday, Aug. 10 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., join Ed and Libby Klekowski on board Northfield Mountain’s Quinnetukut Riverboat for stories of days gone by. During this cruise they will bring the forgotten history of the log drives back to life. From the North Woods in Canada, men drove over a quarter of a million logs 300 miles downriver to saw mills in Massachusetts. These were the longest log drives in America and tall tales will add color to this slice of American life. Hear about log jams that took over two years to free up as we travel the same stretch of river. Professor Klekowski, a diver and retired Biology Professor from UMass-Amherst, is an expert on the historical, geological and biological resources of the 410 mile long Connecticut River. For ages 16 and older. Quinnetukut Riverboat tickets, $12 adult, $11 senior. Special WGBY package includes “Connecticut River Log Drive” DVD, $24 adult, $23 senior).
∎ Song Swap and Stories around the Campfire, Saturday, Aug. 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Don’t miss a family-friendly night of silliness and song around the campfire with toasted marshmallows at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. Naturalist Beth Bazler fell in love with camp songs as a child in Ohio and expanded her repertoire via a connection to Camp Takodah in Southern New Hampshire. Learn her favorites and bring your own songs to share be they serious, funny or even a bit gory. Beth will also share Tajar Tales, written and first told at camps in the Colorado Rockies in 1925 by Jane Shaw Ward. This free event is for ages 5 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.
∎ Woolly Bully and Citizen Science, Thursday, Aug. 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. What impact is the tiny insect, known as the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA), having on our forests? Join Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center staff to learn about this invasive insect and the protocols of data collection and monitoring as we visit a research plot and take sample data. This program will take place both indoors and outdoors, includes a short walk and is great for home school audiences as well as adults and families interested in natural history and citizen science volunteering opportunities. This free event is for ages 7 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.
∎ Sunset on the Mountain, Friday, Aug. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m., celebrate the end of summer with a hike to a sunset scenic view. Spend an evening hiking to the sounds of crickets and katydids and enjoying late summer wildflowers. Feast on a picnic supper (bring-your-own) on a rocky ledge while enjoying the sunset and beautiful views. Adventure seeking participants in moderate condition, able to walk three miles and comfortable with a small amount of elevation gain will be a good fit for this hike. Wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes that can get wet or muddy and bring a trail picnic, water and flashlight. Directions to nearby hike meeting location will be shared with registered participants. This free event is for ages 9 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.
Holyoke Range State Park
1500 West St., Amherst. 413-253-2883. These programs are sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and are free and open to the public.
∎ Friday July 26, 10 a.m. History Hike: Trolley Trail. Join a park interpreter for a hike along the old trolley bed and learn more about the unique role of the trolley in recreation and commerce in the early decades of the 20th century. Appropriate for ages 8 and up. Hike is approximately two miles over mostly flat terrain. Bring plenty of water and insect repellant.
∎ Saturday, July 27, 10:30 a.m. Beginning birding. We will learn about binoculars, bird guides and bird lists as we go out and test our newly acquired skills.
∎ Saturday, July 27, 1 p.m. Let’s explore nature. This family geared program will explore different topics of nature every week. This week’s program is titled “Tools and Tasks”. Every animal and plant has some type of adaptation to help it do it’s tasks. Through props and pictures visitors will try to determine which tool connects with each pictured animal.
∎ Saturday, July 27, 2 p.m. Geology Hike. Take a guided hike to the summit of Bare Mountain, stopping along the way to examine the unique geology of the Holyoke Range and to talk about how the range formed and changed over the past 200 million years. The hike is around one mile round-trip over moderately-strenuous rocky terrain, and departs from the Notch Visitors Center. Participants should bring appropriate footwear and plenty of water.
∎ Sunday July 28, 11 a.m. Wildlife Program: Owls. Learn about local owls. This program will talk about the owl species that inhabit the region, their biology and how to identify them by their calls. Then play detective and dissect an owl pellet to determine what the owl ate.
∎ Sunday, July 28, 2:00 p.m. Family Hike: Nature Bingo. This program will bring families into the forest for a hike and bingo game. Families will be given bingo sheets with objects and wildlife they may see on their hike. The Park Interpreter will take families on a guided hike as they keep their eyes open for the objects on their sheet and race to be the first to get 5 in a row.
∎ Monday July 29, 11 a.m. Kidleidescope: Chipmunks. Introduce your child to nature at this weekly program designed for parents or caregivers and 3 to 6 year old children. The Kidleidoscope Program explores a new theme each week through an outdoor activity and an art project.
∎ Monday, July 29, 2 p.m. Explorer’s Club. Children ages 10 to 12 can increase their knowledge of natural history by attending this weekly hiking program. We will take a closer look at nature as we hike the different trails of the Holyoke Range.
∎ Tuesday, July 30, 10:30 a.m. Nature Kids. Through games, crafts and exploration children ages 5 to 6 can learn about nature and work towards a nature certificate.
∎ Tuesday, July 30, 1 p.m. Senior Hike. Everyone age 55 and older is welcome to join us on this easy paced/easy terrain hike. Along the way we will explore the wonders of nature. Bring water and bug spray. This program will have a duration of one hour.
∎ Thursday, Aug. 1, 11 a.m. Junior Ranger. Children will explore the park and learn natural history to become a Junior Ranger. Appropriate for children ages 9 to 12. Wear sturdy footwear and bring insect repellent, sun block and plenty of water. Meet at the Visitor Center. There is no charge for this program. Children must complete three of the four weeks to receive their Junior Ranger patch.
∎ Thursday, Aug. 1, 2 p.m. Nature Walk: Our Changing Forests. Take a guided walk through the woods. Learn to identify common trees at Holyoke Range State Park by their leaves and bark, and learn about how forests in Massachusetts have changed since European colonization and how they might change into the future. This program is intended for those budding naturalists interested in the basics of tree identification and in the history of forests in Massachusetts. Participants should bring insect repellant and plenty of water.
∎ Friday, Aug. 2, 2 p.m. Geology Hike. Take a guided hike to the summit of Bare Mountain, stopping along the way to examine the unique geology of the Holyoke Range and to talk about how the range formed and changed over the past 200 million years. The hike is around 1 mile round-trip over moderately-strenuous rocky terrain, and departs from the Notch Visitors Center. Participants should bring appropriate footwear and plenty of water.
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary
127 Combs Road, Easthampton, 413-584-3009, ext. 812, email@example.com.
∎ “First Child in the Woods: Caregiver and Infant/Toddler Walk.” Saturday, July 27, 10 to 11 a.m. An opportunity to explore the nature and beauty of Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary with your youngster each month. Each walk will be on fairly level ground as to accommodate carriages or backpack kids and end at the Nature Play and picnic area. The program, which will be led by Environmental Educator Brittany Gutermouth, is suitable for families with children ages up to 5. $5 for Mass Audubon members and $7 for nonmembers. There is no charge for children. Registration is required.
∎ “High Summer Canoe.” A gentle canoe trip, Sunday, July 28, from 3 to 6 p.m. It will be led by Laughing Brook Caretaker Pete Vancini and is suitable for individuals and families with children ages 8 to 16. Please wear a hat and optional sunscreen and insect repellent. $15 for Mass Audubon members and $20 for nonmembers. Registration is required.