On the Trail: Alderbrook Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary
Alderbrook Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a 0.5-mile loop trail with rewarding views of a beaver pond. Located off Route 63 in Northfield, Alderbrook provides locals with a great place to walk their dogs, go birding, or take advantage of the wheelchair accessible path. The Gunnery Sergeant Jeffrey S. Ames Accessible Nature Trail was created in 2018 thanks to dedicated volunteers and a Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Trails Grant.
When you enter the trail, it slopes gradually up from the parking lot until it reaches the loop. Take the left fork, and it will lead you to your first views of the pond and the beaver lodge. If you are lucky, you may spot a beaver. The area is also great for birding with a bench to sit looking towards the pond, where you may see great blue herons or kingfishers. While when you glance back into the woods you might see a downy woodpecker, on my last two visits I have spotted various hawks swooping through the trees on their way to the neighboring farm fields.
From here the trail continues along the pond. Alongside the trail you’ll see a mix of pines, hemlock, and hardwood trees. A short way ahead the trail splits, you can either follow the first right back along the loop to the parking lot or continue straight and down to the viewing platform. The platform provides a scenic view of the pond. You may see turtles or hear a bullfrog or spring peeper depending on the season. Following the path back up you can continue around the loop, and it will take you back to the parking lot. On the 12.5% grade section down there are two pull offs to the side of the path.
In 2016 Bill and Nancy Ames donated the 5 acres of woods and wetlands to Mount Grace that allowed for this trail to be created. The trail also hosts several interpretive panels along the trail that focus on the cultural and natural history of the area, created with input from Indigenous partners. I really appreciate all this trail has to offer. It is my go-to place to walk when I might be low on energy or time but know getting outside will lift my spirits!
This winter our trails have seen some damage due to falling branches, if a flat path is a priority for you a trail workday is scheduled for April 15th, afterwards the trail should be clear of debris. The April 15th workday runs from 10am-5pm and members of the public are welcome to join!
May 1st from 6-7pm there will be an iNaturalist Biobliltz event at Alderbrook. This is part of the Global City Nature Challenge weekend. Help us discover what species are on this property and contribute to science worldwide!
Accessibility information: The trail and parking lot is crushed stone. On the loop there are two sections with a grade of 12.5%, with one more 12.5% grade on the path to the viewing platform. The site has four benches. The parking lot has one designated accessible van space, and four additional parking spaces. There are no bathrooms on site.