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: Summer-Fall 2024

Quabbin Trails tracking programs vary from session to session depending on what the conditions and wildlife availability dictate. Much time is spent 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. Earth softened by the spring thaw as well as muddy margins of wetlands often yield tracks for us to identify and interpret. In the winter, if we are lucky, we will get a slate of snow on which animals abroad will print their tracks and trails. From these we can gain a deep and intimate insight into their hidden lives.


Coyote trot pattern Photo David Brown

The number of participants at Quabbin Trails tracking programs is restricted to the first ten to register for each date. This number allows the opportunity of everyone to closely examine found sign for the telling details upon which tracking is based.

Beginning at about 9:30 early arrivals may participate in a warm-up session in the backroom where a cast display or array of artifacts will be used to stimulate discussion and get us in a frame of mind for the day’s activities. Those who do not wish to participate can meet us on the common across from the store at 10am.


Spring-summer programs schedule 2024:

    • Sunday, June 16, 10am-3pm: Quabbin tracking. Please register by Jun12
    • Sunday, July 14, 10am-3pm: Quabbin tracking. Please register by July10.
    • Sunday, August 4, 10am-3pm: Quabbin tracking. Please register by August 1.
    • Sunday, October 6, 10am-3pm: Quabbin tracking. Please register by October 2.
    • Sunday, November 10, 10am-3pm: Quabbin tracking. Please register by November7.

    Winter programs will by posted in early November.


Registration process: 

  • If you decide you wish to attend one or more of the above programs, please e-mail me with the date(s) you desire. If there is still space in the program(s), I will reserve a spot for you for the date(s) and so inform you.

  • Once this is done, 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 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. At that time you may request a place on a waiting list in case of a withdrawal.

  • These procedures 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. We meet in the back room of the Petersham Country Store by 9:45. (see Directions below.)

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 warmer weather programs, 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 currently meet in the back room of the country store across from the Petersham common. Park on the highway across from the store. Please plan to arrive by at least 9:45 am to avoid being left behind. The store opens at 9 am and provides food, snacks and a lavatory for customers. From the common we will caravan or car-pool to a North Quabbin natural area. From Boston on Rte 2 take Exit 75 (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.