The Trustees of Reservations, one of the largest conservation organizations in Massachusetts, will dedicate a new property in western Massachusetts this Saturday.
Mount Warner, rising 500 feet above the surrounding farmland in North Hadley, is a familiar landmark that is easily accessible to people seeking active and passive recreation on 160 acres of gently-sloping woodlands.
Joshua Berk Knox, Superintendent for the Trustees of Reservations, leads visitors over a two-mile long newly constructed trail that loops through the woods on a crisp fall day.
" With the views into the woods with the yellowing and golden foliage, it is really a magical spot," said Knox as he walked up the trail.
The Salamander Trail ascends through roughly a dozen types of trees including oak, black birch, and beech along with ferns and other vegetation.
Knox points to grapevines that are six to 8 inches in diameter that snake into the highest canopy and flow through the woods.
The mountain is also home to wildlife including deer, chipmunks, coyotes, woodpeckers, and salamanders.
The land was used in the past for grazing and for logging. Evidence of the history can be seen along the new trail.
" This is a great spot to look at the natural history and human history on the land. We have pictures of glacial boulders on this land with no trees in evidence, so the land has changed over time."
Knox said the new trail was carefully designed and built to allow easy access.
" A large group of volunteers helped us take out hazards and make sure the path is nice and level under foot. So, if you come here you will have an easy experience whether it is for a walk, a jog, or hiking with your kids."
The Mount Warner Reservation is open for year-round activities including hiking, mountain biking, cross-country-skiing, snowshoeing, and bird watching.
The property had been owned for generations by the Agassiz family before it was sold to The Trustees of Reservations. It is one of 44 properties the organization owns and manages in western Massachusetts, according to Joanna Ballantine, Trustees Western Regional Director.
" It is part of our plan and vision to protect land, steward it with volunteers, and excite people of all ages to get out doors, especially kids."
Ballantine credited community partners, the Kestrel Trust, and the 100,000 members of her organization with making the acquisition of Mount Warner possible.
" It is people who love nature and the outdoors and people who care about historic preservation, conservation, and farming in Massachusetts."
The Mount Warner Reservation is part of a nearly contiguous 500 acres of protected land that links forests and farmland along the Connecticut River. Pete Westover of Conservation Works is designing a regional trail system to allow people to explore the larger area.
" We've mapped it out, and we are talking with the landowners along the way because we have to arrange for permissions and easements. We are talking about an extra mile of trail from the river up here to Mount Warner."
The Trustees of Reservations will hold a dedication of the Mount Warner Reservation on Saturday, Oct 18 at 10:30. There will be a guided hike of the Salamander Trail.
There will also be wagon-ride tours of the surrounding landscape offered as part of the North Hadley Sugar Shack’s annual Pumpkin Fest and Tractor Parade.