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Gary Briere

Gary Briere

Recreation Bureau Chief, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)

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The winter's big snowfall in the Berkshires and Connecticut Valley the week of Feb. 22 provided an opportunity to explore a trail that I walk regularly near the Connecticut River Greenway State Park.

Snow Covered Trail

My familiar route was full of new experiences as a result of the weather conditions. The heavy, wet snow was still falling and the millions of flakes in the air obscured my normal views of Mt Toby but created an ever-changing kaleidoscope view of the forest around me. Giant pillows of snow covered the branches of the white pines bordering a field. The extra weight proved to be too much for some of the weaker limbs, and the sound of snapping branches and avalanches of snow falling from the canopy above added drama to the normally well-behaved woodland atmosphere.

The strong scent of pine perfumed the air around a pile of recently fallen branches. Fresh tracks on the trail showed that a coyote had passed this way within the last few hours and reminded me that I share this special landscape with lots of other species who inhabit it and experience it in all types of weather and in every season.

With more than 2,000 miles of trails and pathways across Massachusetts, DCR offers many opportunities to explore the wonders of nature close to home and in all kinds of weather. Whether you visit DCR’s Charles River Esplanade in Boston or Mt. Everett in the Berkshires, you’ll find wonderful new experiences when you explore a trail or pathway in winter. Click here for more information in hiking in Massachusetts state parks.

When you return from your hike and are ready to curl up with a good book about trails, pick up a copy of Loop Year by John Sheirer. It’s the ultimate account of the changing seasonal nature of trails. The author walks the same Connecticut trail every day for 365 days and writes a daily account of his experience. He builds the 365-day adventure into his writing, as well, by limiting each daily log to 365 words.

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