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Appalachian Mountain Club Boston Chapter Local Walks/Hikes Committee

Nature Walks

Nature walks are different from other types of hikes. This page is about what to expect from an AMC nature walk, what to bring, and where to go on your own nature walks.

What to Expect on a Natural History Walk

Donít look for an aerobic workout. The pace on a natural history walk is very slow, with lots of stops to look at and to learn about things: birds, bugs, plants, tracks, scat, rocks, features of the landscape, the sky.

If this does not sound like your sort of outing, probably you should choose another walk.

Because there will be lots of stops to look and talk, the number of walkers is usually limited by the leader. If the group is large, whatever is being looked at canít be seen by everyone, and comments and questions canít be heard by all. The leader may ask that the front half of the group move past the object of interest so that the second half can move closer. In that way, everyone has a chance to see and hear.

The leader of a natural history walk is usually a passionate amateur, someone who is knowledgeable and deeply interested in the wonders of the natural world. But leaders donít know everything, and will be delighted if you have information to add, or spot a feature the leader has overlooked. Speak up.

Most natural history walks do not place great physical demands on the walkers. Leaders tend to choose trails that are easy and relatively flat. So do not worry about having to scale great heights or about long slogs up. Ask the leader what footgear s/he recommends.

What items to bring? Binoculars might be useful. If you have a little magnifier, you could bring that too, and a favorite field guide to plants, or birds, or whatever your special interest is. The leader will doubtless have some equipment for the group to borrow, as well as a few field guides. But mostly just bring your curiosity. Equipment is not at all necessary.

What is necessary, though, is water and sunscreen. The best protection against both sun and annoying bugs is to cover up, and water, in all seasons, not just the warm ones, is an absolute necessity.

What you see on a natural history walk changes with the seasons. There is always something new. Natural history walk leaders warmly invite you to come out with them and search out the wonders to be found in plain view!

- Hilary Hopkins

Field Guides

Equipment

 

Stores Carrying Binoculars and Field Guides

 

Birding and Nature Walk Areas

Areas favored by the AMC Local Walks nature walk leaders. There is additional information on many of these areas on the Hiking Areas page.

Hawk Watching

Hawks migrate south in September and October by gliding on northwest winds and rising on thermal updrafts over mountains and large hills. Peak numbers occur during the broad-wing hawk migration in the second and third weeks of September and can be as high as several thousand per day when the wind shifts to the northwest. When the wind is from the southwest there may be none at all. Good viewing locations include Wachusett Mountain, Wachusett Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, Mount Watatic, and Pack Monadnock Mountain.

Precautions

When walking through tall grass and brush, beware of ticks carrying Lyme disease, especially in coastal areas. Tuck pants into socks, use repellent, and check for ticks. See www.vineyard.net/vineyard/health/lyme/. Also, learn to recognize and avoid poison ivy.

Photos

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Photo credits: JB - Jack Boudreau