LATE FALL HIKING TIPS IN STURBRIDGE
By Thomas Chamberland
Now that autumn is well underway in New England, we all have several things to look forward to: frosty mornings, pumpkins, apple cider, Thanksgiving and fall hiking! I encourage you all to go out and visit our open space properties, and check out our two new trails!
On the Leadmine Mt Property the Mt Laurel trail was re-opened in June after being closed for several years following the 2011 tornado. Also, a section of the Sand Hill trail, a ST-1 trail, connecting parts of the Arbutus Park trail to the Morgan track trail was also completed. Signs will be up shortly, but look for the trail markings of green and white for the Mt Laurel trail and Blue and gray for the Sand Hill trail. So, no matter how you get out doors this fall please remember to follow these tips on late fall hiking!
Late fall hiking tips:
When planning a late fall hike here are several factors to consider in making it a safe and enjoyable experience.
• November thru December is hunting season. Wearing a blaze orange hat, vest, or pack cover is recommended. Also, if hunters are in the area, call out “Hikers on the trail!” to let them know that it’s a person rustling down the trail, not wildlife. Best advice, for these two months is to hike on Sunday’s, when hunting is not allowed.
• If you like to take your dog along on these walks, keep them on a short leash and dress them in Orange too!
• Remember hunters have just as much right to be on our open space lands as you! And they are a part of our State’s overall wildlife management plan in controlling various wildlife populations which benefit us all. Although hunting is not allowed on the Heins Farm lands, adjacent property is open to hunters so they may be walking thru this property too.
• Be aware that days are getting shorter. In New England the sun is setting close to 4:30 PM by mid December, so when planning that late afternoon hike, make sure the batteries in your headlamp are fresh.
Days are also getting colder and even a little drizzle or light snow can leave you dangerously chilled. Have waterproof and insulating garments available and try to incorporate a few more calories into your trailside snacks.
• In the New England region, fall is a great time to see wildlife stocking up for winter hibernation. Most of these critters will be active around dawn or dusk – sitting still during these times can increase your chances of seeing some great wildlife!
Enjoy the smells of crisp fall air, the sights of changing color of the leaves, the noise of walking on freshly fallen leaves or walking thru the freshly fallen light snow! Fall is a great time for hiking if you are prepared!
Tom Chamberland is an associate member of the Sturbridge Trail Committee and an active member in The Friends of Sturbridge Trails (FrOST). He also serves on the Massachusetts Recreation Trails Advisory Board to DCR. Email Tom your trail questions at; email@example.com