Trail Mix: Explore nature in our area

Wild Edibles & Medicinals Workshop

CONWAY — Wild Edibles & Medicinals Workshop, Saturday, Aug. 17, 1 to 4 p.m. Learn to identify, process, prepare, cook, preserve and eat on the spot. You will learn how and when to harvest by season and in what habitat to seek out your favorite wild edibles and medicinals. $40 in advance, $45 on the day of the workshop. Register online ( or call 413-340-1161 for more information.

Crickets, Thrushes and Wildflowers

Join naturalist John Green Jr. for a late-afternoon summer stroll through the fields and woodlands of the Quabbin Reservoir. Listen to and learn the calls of evening avian songsters such as wood and hermit thrushes along with robins. We’ll also listen for and distinguish different cricket and long-horned beetle sounds. Aside from sounds, we will also search the fields for late-summer wildflowers. Take Route 9 toward Belchertown. The entrance to Quabbin is 3 miles east of the intersection with Route 202 and is marked with a sign “Quabbin Reservoir/Windsor Dam.” Turn left at the sign and go a half mile to the large brick building that overlooks the reservoir. The program will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 22. Fee is $8 for Mass Audubon members and $12 for nonmembers. Preregistration is required. For more information, please contact Mass Audubon’s Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries at 413-584-3009, ext. 812 or

Hike the Catamount Hills

On Aug. 24, the Deerfield River Watershed Association will have Ed Gregory, a noted rock hound, and historian Muriel Russell lead a hike in the Catamount Hills. The emphasis will be on rocks of all kinds: foundations, walls, outcroppings and caves of the area. The pace, therefore, will be slow, covering about 3 miles but hikers should allow three hours plus and attendants will be limited to 15. To reach the meeting place from Route 112 in Griswoldville in Colrain, take the Adamsville Road across the iron bridge to the next bridge across the river to the West Branch Cemetery. Park near the bridge to car pool to the trail head where parking is limited. Meet at the cemetery at 9:30. Bring lunch, flashlight, water, unscented bug repellant. and dress for the weather. Please register with Muriel Russell at 413-624-3311.

Invasive Plant Control

Non-native invasive plants are a major threat to the nature of Massachusetts. These plants grow prolifically, are often of little food value to wildlife and crowd out native plants. Each year Arcadia battles many of these plants by physically removing them. Join the team to learn about invasive plant control and come prepared to work at removing purple loosestrife, a beautiful but very invasive species. This is a free program. Please wear long pants and long-sleeved shirt. Plan to paddle in a canoe a short distance to get to our destination. Please bring water to drink. The program will take place at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton/Northampton from 9 a.m. to noon on Aug. 24 and will be led by Conservation Caretaker David McLain. Preregistration is recommended but not required. For more information, please contact Mass Audubon’s Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries at 413-584-3009, ext. 812 or

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 413-863-3676, 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.

∎ Sunday, Aug. 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. 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.

∎ 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 sunblock.

Saturday Morning Bird Walks

The early-morning world of birds is one of beauty and wonder, a pageant of neotropical migrants returning to their wintering grounds, and Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary is beginning its series of “Saturday Morning Bird Walks” in early September. Each walk leader will focus on field identification techniques, flight patterns, field marks, habitat preferences, and songs and calls. The birds we see will change as fall progresses. Bring a bird book and binoculars if you have them. This program will be canceled if there is heavy rain. The first walk will take place at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton/Northampton from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 7. Fee is free for Mass Audubon members and $5 for nonmembers. Preregistration is recommended. For more information, please contact Mass Audubon’s Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries at 413-584-3009, ext. 812 or

Northfield Mountain

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

∎ 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.

∎ Monarch Tagging, Saturday, Sept. 7, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. September is when the Monarch Butterfly starts its 2,500 mile migration to central Mexico. Join Jennifer Uncles on at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center and learn about this amazing butterfly. We’ll begin indoors with hands-on activities and stations, then venture outside in search of migrating monarchs. If our luck holds, we will catch and tag a monarch, as part of the national citizen science program , Monarch Watch. Join us to learn about the monarch’s life cycle, challenges they face on their journey, how the tagging helps scientists learn more about these butterflies and what you can do to help. In case of rain, please join us for the indoor session. This event is free and open to all ages. Please preregister by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Parting of the Seas: The Canal Drawdown at Turners Falls, Monday, Sept. 9 from 10 a.m. until noon, go down into the bottom of a working river and gain unique insights into both the structure of the river and the animals that live there. The annual dewatering of the Turners Falls Canal allows for maintenance on the Cabot Power Station and the two miles of canal walls. Participants assemble with buckets and boots to collect mudpuppies, young sea lamprey (called amocetes), eels and other fish, plus invertebrates like dragonfly nymphs that live in the canal. This is an opportunity to see and hold species that you may have only heard about or seen on television. Collected creatures are then released in the main stem of the river with the help of staff from the Silvio O. Conte Fish Lab. Program strictly limited to first 24 participants, so register early. Directions to meeting place sent to confirmed participants. This free event is for ages 7 and older. Please preregister by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 800-859-2960.

∎ Hydro-Power Generation in Turners Falls with Rachel Roberts, Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. until noon, join educator Rachel Roberts and FirstLight Power staff for an exciting program about Hydro-Power Generation focusing on its historic and current production in Turners Falls. Together we will do a variety of hands-on science activities connected to general concepts of generating electricity with water. This class will reinforce participants’ understanding of generating power, how electricity is made, and simple machines. Turners Falls #1 and Cabot Station use water turbines (a rotary engine that takes energy from moving water) to generate electrical power and photos of the stations will be shown for participants’ observation of a local water turbine in action. We will begin the class near the Fishway and will walk along the canal to take a closer look at the dam system. This family workshop is free and is supported in part by a grant from the Montague Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. The event is for ages 8 and older and will be held at Unity Park by the Turners Falls Fishway parking area. Please pre-register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Wild Edibles: Weed ’em & Reap, Saturday, Sept. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. Many so-called “weeds” are tasty, free, & nutritious. Join author and filmmaker Blanche Derby at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. We will forage in field and forest and discover new wild edible plant friends with author and filmmaker Blanche Derby. This relaxing “walkshop” around the Center’s grounds will be followed by a light snack. Blanche has spent years foraging and preparing foods from the wild. Join her as she shares her knowledge and stories about these plants. Be sure to check out her website: which has a link to over 30 of her wild food videos on YouTube. This free event is for ages 12 and older and has a rain date of Sunday, Sept. 22. Please pre-register by calling Northfield Mountain at 1-800-859-2960.

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