Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Solstice Celebration Saturday

EASTHAMPTON —Throughout time, people have come together to celebrate the shortest day of the year and welcome the lengthening days ahead. Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, 127 Combs Road, has a tradition gathering at sundown for music and community unity. There will be a bonfire, hot cider and music. Call Arcadia if a blizzard is brewing. This is a free event; however, please bring a nonperishable food item for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Registration is not required. The program, which is suitable for individuals as well as families with children over the age of 5, will take place at sanctuary from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Great Falls Discovery Center

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

∎ Saturday, Dec. 28, center closed.

Northfield Mountain

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

∎ Solstice Headlamp Hike. Join Northfield Mountain staff member Beth Bazler for a holiday celebration for hike lovers on Saturday, Dec. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. This romp will be on the carriage-width ski trails at Northfield. Participants’ headlamps will light the way on this longest night of the year as people share solstice facts and quotes from literary lovers of the night. Also, a visit to a mid-mountain campfire and shared cider and snacks. Participants should bring a headlamp, dress in layers for hiking in winter weather and expect to hike 1½ miles with an elevation gain of 300 feet. If the trails are open for skiing, snowshoes are required. This event is free and appropriate for ages 11 and older. Please register by calling 800-859-2960.

∎ Winter Trails Day. Saturday, Jan. 11, from 1 to 4 p.m.. Older children and adults new to snow sports will have the chance to try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for free, and to discover the great fitness and social benefits of these easy-to-learn winter sports. Winter Trails Day involves almost 100 resorts and Nordic Centers nationwide and gets 11,000 kids and adults on the snow each year. At Northfield Mountain, free clinics for first-time skiers begin at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and last for 45 minutes. Twenty-minute snowshoe clinics are offered at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. for those who have never tried the sport. Clinic participants must arrive 30 minutes in advance of their scheduled start time to sign-in and pick up their equipment. This event is free and appropriate for ages 8 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Barton Cove Eagles; The Year of Three. Join William Dean, author, amateur photographer and nature enthusiast, on Wednesday, Jan. 15, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center for a look at the Barton Cove eagle nest during the 2013 breeding season. For the first time since the nest was constructed 25 years ago, three eaglets successfully fledged from the nest. This program will provide a beautiful look at the Barton Cove eagles with a photo and video presentation, interspersed with stories and observations. Dean enjoys sharing his passion for these remarkable birds that he has photographed and observed for the past seven years. For ages 10 and older. Visit his website at and please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 800-859-2960. Program for adults and children aged 10 and older.

∎ Moonlight Snowshoe/Hike for Fitness. Wednesday, Jan. 15 from 6:30 to 90 p.m. Algonquin tribes knew the January full moon as “squochee kesos” or “the sun has not strength to thaw moon.” Typically the chilliest full moon of the year, it’s the perfect time to maintain New Year’s fitness resolutions by hiking or snowshoeing in the moonlight, say organizers. There will be brief stops to discuss the fitness benefits of hiking or snowshoeing, Native American moon names and quotes from other lovers of the night. Participants will warm up with herb tea and are invited to bring a light, healthy snack to share. Those who want to learn more about snowshoes can see a variety of styles available and learn favorite features that make people love their specific snowshoes. No prior snowshoeing or night hiking experience required. People who engage in aerobic activity three times per week will be most comfortable on this program. Bring water, wear wind pants or gaiters and dress in warm layers that can be shed. Free, $16 with snowshoe rentals. It is appropriate for ages 12 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ 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:, 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.

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