First Day Hikes in Western MA
DCR Sponsors First Day Hikes
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will sponsor free “First Day” family hikes in 14 state parks across the Commonwealth on New Year’s Day, as a way to connect children and parents with the great outdoors even – or maybe especially – in winter. Several will be here in Western MA.
First Day hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, with views and vistas unimpeded by foliage. Wildlife that might be spied along these walks will almost certainly include song birds, turkeys and bald eagles. If you do see a Bald Eagle, remember that MassWildlife is holding their Midwinter Bald Eagle survey period right now through January 12, 2011. Everyone who is outdoors and sees an eagle during this time period is encouraged to report his or her sighting! You can send your report to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide the date, time, location, and town of eagle sightings, plus the number of birds, whether juvenile or adult, and your contact information.
If you’re lucky (and quiet), you might also catch sight of a red fox, moose, porcupine or fisher. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Pocket Guide to Animal Tracks can help identify which animals may have passed by.
DCR’s First Day Hikes in Western MA include:
- 10am: First Day Hike at D.A.R. State Forest. Meet in the Day Use Area off Route 112, main parking lot. Goshen, MA (FREE)
- 1pm: First Day Hike at Mount Greylock State Reservation. For families with kids 7yo+. An easy 1.8 mile hike on the Bradley Farm Trail, followed by hot cocoa by the fireplace. Bring shoshoes & poles. Leashed dogs welcomed. Meet at the visitors center (30 Rockwell Rd.) 499-4262 Lanesborough, MA (FREE)
- 1pm: First Day Hike through the Holyoke Heritage State Park and along the canalwalk in the historic district of Holyoke. Learn about the city’s past and future possibilities. Hot cocoa. 534-1723 Holyoke, MA (FREE)
The DCR advises that in preparation for each hike, pay close attention to the details of starting time and location. Dress warmly. Wear layers of clothing and sturdy, warm hiking boots or shoes, as well as hats and gloves. Binoculars always come in handy, and do bring water.
In the event of inclement weather, please call 617-626-1450 after 3 p.m. on December 31 for any possible cancellations. All hikes will be led by park staff members and will last about two hours. Participants are urged to arrive half an hour early to register. For details, visit www.mass.gov
Other (non-DCR) first day hikes:
- 10am: First Day 2011 Hike with Williamsburg Woodland Trails at Bradley Sanctuary. Directions here. 268-7523 Williamsburg, MA (FREE)