This is a list of some great places to visit, some for their scenic beauty and some for their ecological highlights. Some are hard to get to and some not so hard.
- Savoy Mountain State Forest, Savoy MA*
Savoy Mountain State Forest has some 12,000 acres of northern hardwood and conifer forest. You can't go wrong visiting Savoy Mountain State Forest. As a young state naturalist, I was posted there for two years and it has made an indelible impression on me.
With in Savoy Mountain State Forest there is a simple hike to one of the area's most panoramic vistas; Busby Trail to the Spruce Hill overlook. The Busby Trail takes you past silent foundations of barn and neighboring farmhouse, abandoned long ago and if you are a careful student you will notice non-native planted plants still growing near the foundations, as if to keep watch for their gardener's return. Further up the trail is a side trail, called Lost Pond Trail, off to the west. Lost Pond Trail during the spring wildflower season is excessive in its beauty and abundance.
It seems that everywhere you go in Savoy Mountain State Forest there is evidence of human settlement and the greater strength of nature's reclamation of these abandon fields, farms, orchards and mill sites. The forests are laced with abundant wildlife, dotted with ponds, swamps and brooks and offer private hikes of immense serenity and beauty. It would take me page after page just to touch the surface of Savoy Mountain State Forest.
*Putney Mountain, Putney VT*
Putney Mountain is probably best known for its hawk watching, especially at about the second week
of September where 300-400 and sometimes 600 hawks soar overhead an hour. However, and I mean a big however, those of us who get into
interpreting the forest and the past evidence of humans it is rare that a more spectacular place exists. Just off the dirt parking
lot is a 'side' trail, called the West Cliff Trail, rather then the one main trail that goes right to the peak, this trail meanders
north and west. I remember I first came to hawk watch at Putney Mountain and took the West Cliff Trail. At first I walked quickly,
having the peak and all them birds in mind, as I began to notice things, left and right of me I began to hike more slowly, increasingly
I began to walk more and more slowly as my eyes became aware of more and more things, left and right. I did make it to the top and
was awed by all the birds and nicely enough, all the friendly hawk watchers who welcomed me and answered my dumb questions. I came
back day after day partially to watch hawks, close to a thousand at one point, and partially to walk and sit and stand along that
West Cliff Trail. The wide variety of tree species and the individual pockets of very old trees makes this a rare view into the resilience
and diversity of the New England forest. http://www.putneymountain.org/Home.html
*Poutwater Pond Natural Area, Princeton MA*
Poutwater Pond Natural Area is a true natural wonder. The hike to the pond, more precisely a bog, is an easy walk through a mixture of forest types; both young hard woods and pines. Access to the kettle bog is by a unique boardwalk suspended on the surface of the bog. The Poutwater bog has many examples of rare plants and several examples of native carnivorous plants. It is a quick and easy place to visit for anyone in that part of the state.
*Alburg Dunes State Forest, Alburg VT*
At the top of Lake Champlain is a peninsula sticking out into the lake from Canada. This state park holds a very large swamp; a very large and very diverse swamp. In its center is acres and acres of Black Spruce swamp and to get into the Black Spruce section you have to walk through an outer ring of cedar forest then hike (wade, more like it) through acres and acres of first silver maple then Larch bogs. The ferns stand as tall as a human, the blue berry bushes taller, the bog rosemary at about your knees but the center is carpeted with verdant sphagnum moss. This is not an easy place to get to by any means and it will take you days, if not many trips, to become comfortable with the slog, but it is well worth the expedition. Don't go with any expectation of staying the least bit dry, ever!!
*Negus Mountain, Charlemont/Rowe MA*
Negus Mtn. is easy to get there and then very difficult to hike. It is a mountain, just plain old up, no matter which way you go. There are a few trails but mostly it is just a wander around kind of place, just find your way. The base has some beautiful vernal pools and then above the vernal pools are a series of rocky benches; a vertical rock face with plateaus varying in size. Exploring these can be beautiful as the forest is mostly of mature hardwood trees set in a rampart like setting. Along the spine of the mountain which reaches almost down to the rail road (caution; the rail road is very active) bed, the hiking is less about mature trees and more about hiking up the mountain through an old inactive fire regime area with low scrub being slowly over topped by aspens. This dual ecological face of Negus is what keeps me coming back, again and again.