Discovering Place with Hilltown Land Trust & Hilltown Families’ Trail Guides!

Explore Someplace New with Hilltown Land Trust & Hilltown Families’ Trail Guides!
By Andrea Caluori-Rivera

Hilltown Land Trust and Hilltown Families have joined together through a shared love of the land to offer free interpretive trail guides that connect families to local Hilltown hiking spots. The properties are all owned by Hilltown Land Trust and are available year round for public use. Each property offers a variety of paths to walk and explore forests, waterways, and wildlife habitat. The guides are accessible online and can be downloaded from the Hilltown Families’ website.

Exploring the natural world in our communities helps us construct a sense of place. By interacting with the land, we learn more about local history, land use practices and the importance of cultivating a meaningful relationship with nature.  Spending time outside offers space for activity and thoughtfulness; it’s an opportunity to recharge and feel more connected to your community.  These trail guides go beyond the typical map and route. They highlight interesting features and information from cultural, scientific, artistic and historical perspectives. They encourage users to think about how their experience outdoors relates to other interests such as citizen science, history, literature and social activism.  Additionally, the A Sense of Place guide complements the trail guides by providing additional resources and activities that extend your learning off the trail. 

You can download the Bradley Sanctuary trail guide in Williamsburg, MA here.  This guide takes you along the Red Oak Trail, a great walk to do with kids or on your own.  On this trail you will see historical and environmental features of Bradley’s landscape and enjoy a lovely walk along Nichols Brook.  One of the most interesting features of the Bradley Sanctuary is an old growth Red Oak tree (pictured above) that is approximately 5 feet in diameter.  Included in the guide is a formula for helping Bradley hikers hypothesize the tree’s age.

Sally Loomis, Hilltown Land Trust Executive Director, explains, “This trail guide and map is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to venture out to the Bradley Sanctuary.  Hilltown Land Trust’s trails are relatively short and manageable for kids of all ages, and offer a way to get to know the local woods.  I took each of my three kids out to explore the local woods and streams for the time they could walk.  They are now comfortable and quite knowledgeable about the natural world.”

All of these properties are available to the public year-round thanks to Hilltown Land Trust’s land conservation efforts and the foresight of Hilltown residents who value keeping our special Hilltown places protected in perpetuity for future generations to visit and love.  Each Hilltown Land Trust property has a story to tell.This partnership with Hilltown Families narrates these stories and shows how our community places are connected to our personal stories and interests.  Use these guides to strengthen your relationship to the local land and experience these Hilltown forests and woods in new and inspiring ways.

The trail guides and their maps were completed by Andrea Caluori-Rivera (guides) and Michael Madole (maps).  Andrea and Michael are members of the Massachusetts Land Initiative for Tomorrow AmeriCorps program (MassLIFT). They both are serving at Hilltown Land Trust, a non-profit land conservation organization serving 13 Western Massachusetts towns. For more information on this program please visit

This project was made possible thanks to their service and a host of community partners:

Downloadable guides (pdf):


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: