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Winter hiking in Massachusetts

Email|Print| Text size + By Jane Roy Brown
Globe Correspondent / December 14, 2003

How to prepare

All sites listed here are unstaffed and have no sanitary facilities, so come prepared to leave no trace and carry the right gear, food, and water to hike safely in winter. Dogs are allowed on all properties, but must be leashed. To learn more about backcountry ethics and how to prepare for a winter hike, visit the Appalachian Mountain Club's website:
www.outdoors.org/activities/hiking.

How to get there

Harvard Forest and Fisher Museum
Take Route 2 west to exit 17 (Route 32, Athol/Petersham). Turn right off exit ramp onto Route 32 south. Harvard Forest is 3 miles down on the left.

Swift River Reservation
Nichewaug Tract
Follow directions to Route 32 south, above. Stay on Route 32 into Petersham center. At the intersection of Routes 32 and 122, go straight onto South Street and follow for 0.9 mile. Turn right onto Nichewaug Road. Parking area is 0.6 mile on left, marked by green and white Trustees of Reservations sign.

Swift River Reservation
Slab City Tract
Follow directions to Route 32 south, above. Stay on Route 32 into Petersham center. At the intersection of Routes 32 and 122, bear left onto Route 32/122 south and follow for 2 miles to Connor's Pond on left. Parking area is on right, but the Trustees sign is down, so watch carefully for entrance, a paved lip dropping into unpaved drive. Watch for large pothole where drive meets pavement.

Brooks Woodland Preserve
Swift River Tract
Follow directions to Route 32 south, above. Stay on Route 32 into Petersham center. Turn left onto East Street and follow for about 0.5 mile. Pull over on unmarked roadside entrance to trail 20, or park by side of the road at the marked entrance 0.3 mile farther down East Street (this is the Roaring Brook Tract) and cross the street to trail 25.

Cook's Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary
Take Route 2 west to exit 22 (Gardner/Hubbardston). At rotary, exit at Route 68 south (Hubbardston) and follow for 8.9 miles. Turn right onto Route 62 west (Barre/Athol) and follow for 5.6 miles into Barre center. Bear left toward stop sign, then go straight after stop onto South Street. (See Cumberland Farms on the left.) Follow South Street for 0.3 miles from Barre Common. Parking area is on left at blue and white Massachusetts Audubon sign.

Resources

Harvard Forest and Fisher Museum
978-724-3302
http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.eduOpen 8:30-4:30.
Map of the Prospect Hill Tract (including the nature trail) can be downloaded from the website. Other maps and guides are available at the kiosk in front of Fisher Museum. Forest recreation hours: Sunrise to sunset, year round. Admission: free. Caution: Hunting is permitted in many parts of the forest. Hikers should dress in bright clothing (pets too), stick to marked trails, and keep pets close. For information on hunting seasons, call 508-835-3607 or visit the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife website: www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dfw/dfwrec.htm#HUNT.
Fisher Museum hours: Monday-Friday: 9-5 (except on Harvard University holidays); Saturday-Sunday: Closed until May; open 12-4 May-October. Admission: discretionary donation.

Swift River Reservation and Brooks Woodland Preserve
Trustees of Reservations
978-840-4446
www.thetrustees.org
Trail maps can be downloaded from website. Hours: Properties are open sunrise to sunset, year-round. Admission: free, but on-site donations are welcome from nonmembers at the Swift River Reservation parking areas. Note: Another Trustees property, North Common Meadow (25 acres), adjoins the Roaring Brook Tract of the Brooks Woodland Preserve in Petersham.
For information, visit www.thetrustees.org.
Caution: Hunting is allowed in the Swift River Reservation, but not at Brooks Woodland Preserve or North Common Meadow. See note on precautions in listing for Harvard Forest.

Cook's Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary
Massachusetts Audubon Society
978-464-2712 x8703
www.massaudubon.org
Maps are available at the parking area. Hours: Sunrise to sunset, year round Admission: $2 nonmember adults; $1 nonmember children (3-12) and seniors. Look for donation box in parking area.

Where to eat

Petersham Country Store
Petersham Center (on the common)
General provisions and eat-in/to-go sandwiches, soups, and salads, $4.85-$5.95; restroom for customers. Hours: Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m, Sunday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

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