Quabbin Trails Programs

The Quabbin region is blessed with abundant forest, field and beaver pond habitats that support a wide variety of wilderness wildlife. The Quabbin area is ideally situated within moderate travelling distance from population centers in central and southern New England to provide many nature lovers with a memorable wildlife experience.

Please note:  Quabbin Trails programs are not conducted in Quabbin Reservation itself. Instead other natural areas in the North Quabbin Region are used.

Quabbin Trails Programs: Spring/summer 2021

Quabbin Trails tracking programs vary from session to session depending on what the conditions and wildlife availability dictate. If there is no snow, we spend much time discovering animal sign camouflaged against a concealing background. Once found the sign is identified and then interpreted for the animal’s relationship with the habitat it which it was found

Program dates and registration deadlines:

Raccoon in wet sand

For the duration of the pandemic, Quabbin Trails tracking programs will be limited to the first eight participants to register for each date. Unvaccinated participants will take their own cars from the meeting point to the site for the day’s program. Others may choose to carpool. Unvaccinated people should also wear masks since there is possibility they could pick up the virus from a vaccinated but asymptomatic carrier.

  • Sunday, April 11, 10am-3pm
  • Sunday, April 25, 10am-3pm
  • Sunday, May 2, 10am-3pm
  • Sunday, May 16, 10am-3pm
  • Sunday, June 6, 10am-3pm
  • Sunday, June 20, 10am-3pm – New date
  • Sunday, July 11, 10am-3pm
  • Sunday, August 8, 10am-3pm

*Additonal dates may be scheduled depending on demand. Check back occasionally.

Please read this:

Masks: The CDC has recently updated its mask policy. Masks may no longer be required for outdoor activities in small groups. However, masks are still recommended for the unvaccinated and for those who have concerns about the safety of going maskless.

Social distancing: It has proven next to impossible to maintain social distancing while examining the features of concentrated animal sign. Even though group size is limited to 8 participants, there is still some small risk involved, especially for those who remain unvaccinated. You should consider this before registering for a program.

Changes to the registration process: In view of the limited number of slots available for each program, the normal registration process needs to be altered a little.

  • If you decide you wish to attend one or more of the programs, please e-mail me with the date(s) you desire. If there is still space in the program(s), I will pencil you in for the date(s) and so inform you.
  • Once an opening is confirmed, please fill out and mail a registration blank and fee (See the Registration Page). Penciled-in slots will be reserved for two weeks, pending the arrival of a by mail of a paid registration.
  • Once a registration blank and fee are received, a printed confirmation will be mailed to you.
  • If upon receiving your initial inquiry, the program or programs are already filled, I will e-mail you immediately to so inform you.
  • These changes will avoid delay and disappointment for you as well as the complication of returning fees for full programs.

Quabbin Area Tracking:

All tracking programs are scheduled on Sundays from 10am-3pm. Until the Corona Virus crisis passes, we will meet at 9:45 by the gazebo on Petersham common across from the country store, which is open for take-out only. The restroom in the store is not available for use by customers. There is a porta-potty acriss the street outside the town hall.

No previous tracking experience is necessary. Experienced trackers in the group will be challenged to find, identify and interpret animal sign, and then explain their thought processes in arriving at their conclusions for the benefit of the less experienced.

Discussion are conducted at an adult level. For this reason programs are not recommended for youngsters below the age of 13. A judgement as to the maturity and interest level of youths is left to the parent, who must accompany the child.

Sessions are invariably friendly and welcoming, with everyone enjoying the beautiful landscape while we discover something of the secret lives of wild animals that hide from us in foliage and the night.

Please, no dogs or other pets.

Preparations for Quabbin Trails programs:

Suitablility: Outdoor programs are suitable for reasonably fit adults and accompanied teenagers 13 years and up (younger teens must be accompanied by an adult). Both beginner and experienced trackers are welcome. However, participants should be free of any medical condition that might be aggravated by long periods of walking in snow, heat or rough terrain. Since much travel is off-trail, programs are not suitable for anyone with balance or coordination problems. Due to the difficulty in obtaining emergency medical care in remote locations, Quabbin Trails programs are not recommended for anyone with a history of incapacitating sudden-onset illness.

Clothing and Equipment: In winter dress for the weather and snow conditions. Bring more warm clothing than you think you will need since tracking is often a slow process involving much stopping and discussion. Warm snowproof boots are necessary, and snowshoes may be helpful depending on snow depth. Bring lunch and a thermos with a hot drink and a pad to sit on in the snow. Sunglasses on bright days are very helpful with snow glare. In icy conditions, traction devices are recommended for your feet.

In other seasons, bring plenty of water. Wear long sleeves and pants. Lighter colors help in spotting ticks. Permethrin treatment is recommended for clothing, both shirts, pants socks and boots. This may be applied from a spray bottle, purchasable from Wal-Mart or other stores. Clothing can also be sent to a company in the Carolinas for treatment. See their website: Insectshield.com. Bug dope containing DEET will deter mosquitoes and blackflies. A headnet may also be helpful during periods of intense insect activity.

Directions: Quabbin programs meet at 9:45 a.m. at the gazebo on the Petersham common across from the country store. The store opens at 9 am and carries trail snacks and limited take-out service. From the common we will caravan to a North Quabbin natural area. From Boston take Exit 17 (Rte. 32) and go south 6 miles to the common. From other directions see a roadmap or internet map service.

Registration: Use the linked Registration Page only to register for “Quabbin Trails” programs described on this page. (For events on the Sponsored Programs page, refer directly to the sponsoring organization for details and registration.)

Please note: in order to get an accurate count of participants, those who have unused registration fees on account should let me know by e-mail for any program they wish to attend.


  • In the event a program is not adequately subscribed, you will be notified of cancellation at the telephone number or e-mail address you supplied on the registration blank.
  • You may withdraw from a program with refund any time before four days before the program date. After that refund depends on filling the vacancy from a waiting list. If a personal emergency you may, of course, withdraw with refund at any time.
  • If inappropriate weather conditions are forecast, requiring postponement or cancellation, you will be e-mailed according to the contact information supplied on the registration blank.