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Building Trails that Welcome You In

2 women on Whately Woods boardwalk

As more people have been spending time outdoors, our stewardship team is creating new public trails and enhancing others. Making a conservation area welcoming to visitors takes many hands, and lately those hands have been busy!

Whately Center Woods
Just a half-mile down the road from the historic center of Whately, a beloved neighborhood woodland will be ready for the public to enjoy in the new year. Thanks to the hard work of 32 volunteers from our Woodworking and Land & Trail Crews, the Whately Center Woods has a new trail that takes visitors along wetland boardwalks and over picturesque streams into the woods.

volunteers building wood frame at Whately WoodsAlongside contractors from Conser­vation Works LLC, volunteers constructed 400 feet of bog bridges, 50 feet of boardwalk, two bridges, and a staircase. The finishing touch, a kiosk at the new parking area on Chestnut Plain Road, will provide a map highlighting features along the trail.

Grace Goodwin-Boyd, Kestrel’s Terra­Corps Stewardship Coordinator said, “Our volunteers have been vital to the success of this trail project. Everyone I’ve worked with has been friendly, contributing to what has been a massive group effort. I’m excited for this trail to be open so that the community can enjoy the beautiful, peaceful place we’ve been working in for the past two months.”

Mt. Tom North: Little Mountain
In a partnership with the City of Easthampton, Kestrel helped conserve two adjacent parcels to create a 23-acre park that will serve as the City’s first secure public access to Mt. Tom. This fall, the City began constructing a new parking area on East Street, and restoring an open meadow at the top of the hill that will provide scenic views of the Oxbow.

A universally accessible trail is under construction on the City’s 12-acre parcel, as well as trail connections to the New England Scenic Trail on Mt. Tom State Reservation. On Kestrel’s 11-acre parcel, a new family-friendly woodland trail is being marked. It will hug the base of Little Mountain, a knob on the Mt. Tom Range, and eventually connect to the trails the City is constructing. The new park should be open to the public by next summer.

Ames Pond: A New Kestrel Retreat
As a result of Julian Janowitz’s generous bequest to Kestrel of 143 acres around the scenic Ames Pond, our team is working to create a welcoming experience for all on this Shutesbury land. They have started sprucing up the upland trails by blazing and clearing debris. But there is much more work to be done on the 5-mile trail system, including repair of the bog boardwalk originally built by Julian.

In 2022, we’ll be applying for Community Preservation Act funds for the first phase of trail improvements, including an expanded parking area and a universally accessible meadow trail to a pond viewing platform near one of Julian’s sculptures.

Kestrel Pond Loop Trail SignSweet Alice Pond Loop Trail
The new Sweet Alice Pond Loop Trail officially opened this fall, offering an inspiring view of the Mount Holyoke Range from Kestrel’s new headquarters on Bay Road. In partnership with the Town of Amherst, the trail was created to offer an easy scenic walk and a new access point to the larger MHR trail network. The Town constructed a new parking area on Bay Road, providing a safe access to its Sweet Alice Conservation Area and to Kestrel’s grounds. Check out the new map here.


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