High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:Patten Road, Shelburne, MA
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Suggested donation, $3; Mass Audubon members, free

massaudubon.org; 978-464-2712

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

Truly off the beaten path, High Ledges has lovely views of Deerfield Valley and Mount Greylock and, in spring and summer, wildflowers galore.

You'll pass a vernal pool on the Sanctuary Road Trail.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

This 600-acre sanctuary has several trails to choose from, but probably the best one to take with kids is the 1-mile Sanctuary Road Trail, which leads to the cliffs, where you’ll see why this Mass Audubon sanctuary is named High Ledges. On Sanctuary Road Trail, you’ll pass by fields and a vernal pool. If you decide to go a bit farther, take Dutch and Mary Barnard Trail to find an amazing number of wildflowers in spring and summer.

Visiting High Ledges is recommended in summer or early autumn because some trails may be too muddy or washed out for hiking in spring. If you decide to visit in winter, don’t forget your snowshoes. Some parts of the trails are steep, too, which is why this hike is recommended for older kids. (Use caution and keep a close eye on children of any age.)

The sanctuary is home to a broad array of native plants and a diverse landscape, from fields to wetlands to woods. Twenty species of orchids and 30 species of ferns grow on the property, so making a game of finding as many different varieties is a good diversion as you walk. Since High Ledges was once part of a farm, you’ll also see evidence of its former life: stone walls, fencing, and former pastures.

Remember: Parking areas may be inaccessible from December to May due to snow or mud. Call ahead to check conditions.

Plan B:

Head to the charming town of Shelburne Falls to visit the gorgeous Bridge of Flowers (in season) and check out the famous glacial potholes that formed in the Deerfield River more than 14,000 years ago.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Numerous eateries are in Shelburne Falls.


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