Lately, I’ve been reflecting on how many people have turned to nature and the outdoors as a way to exercise, socialize, and entertain themselves and their families in recent months. For example, many of my neighbors who I’d never met started walking around the neighborhood, introducing themselves as I worked in my garden. I’ve been able to visit my family recently by bringing a picnic lunch to my mother’s house and eating together on her front lawn at a safe distance. People are getting together with friends to go for daily walks and hikes in an effort to get the much needed masked-face to masked-face interaction we all crave.

This has helped me realize how fortunate we are to live in a state with a number of organizations that focus on protecting and conserving natural spaces throughout Massachusetts. Besides taking care of natural areas and protecting the wildlife that lives there, they make it possible for us to explore and connect with the places they maintain. For instance, Stearns Farm and the surrounding woods are protected by Sudbury Valley Trustees. I’ve been to a number of area trails over the years and want to highlight a few I’ve really enjoyed:

Mount Misery — Lincoln Land Conservation Trust and Rural Land Foundation – “Mount Misery is the largest conservation area in Lincoln, with 227 acres of agricultural fields, woods, hills, and ponds. Mount Misery was privately owned until 1969 when the Town of Lincoln purchased the property and the neighboring Codman Estate. With this property conserved, Lincoln protected an important ecological corridor connecting Walden Pond and Adams Woods (to the north), Codman (to the east), and Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (to the south).”

Wachusett Meadow — Mass Audubon – “Wachusett Meadow is a former farmstead that offers spectacular scenery and supports abundant wildlife throughout woodlands, wetlands, and meadows. Historic buildings and barns are still in use for educational programming and resident sheep graze pastures. Our trails traverse many landscape features including Brown Hill Summit, Glacial Boulder, ancient trees, and beaver ponds.”

Moose Hill Farm – The Trustees of Reservations  – “Trails lead to summit fields, where grassland birds are again finding a home. The reservation’s wooded hillsides still shelter some mature specimens of the American chestnut tree, a species that used to dominate forests in the eastern United States until it was nearly exterminated by a bark fungus. [This hill’s] height also guarantees terrific views of the Boston skyline and the Neponset River Valley from the upper hayfield.”

I hope you can all take advantage of the thousands of acres that are protected by so many of these organizations. Not only is it a great way to explore the state and connect with nature and wildlife, but it is a satisfying and safe activity for you and your family. I’d also love to know what trails you recommend — I’m always looking for new places to explore!

Until next time,