McDonald Nature Preserve, Wilbraham, Massachusetts
The McDonald Nature Preserve is located in the center of Wilbraham on Washington Rd. It was acquired in 2009 through the cooperative efforts of former landowner Marlene Coleman, the Town of Wilbraham, the Minnechaug Land Trust, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Self-Help Program.
The preserve can be reached by taking Grove St. from Boston Rd and proceeding approximately 1/4 mile to McDonald Way. Take a left onto this small dirt road. At the end take another left onto Washington Rd. This is another dirt road which will take you to the parking area.
Although the property which was purchased in 2009 is only 29 acres, it lies in the center of other existing Town-owned conservation lands including the White Cedar Swamp, together making a natural corridor through the center of town. Hiking trails are defined that allow for an enjoyable walk from The McDonald Nature Preserve to Nine Mile Pond, or to the Wilbraham Middle School. An alternative would be to access the trails from the Middle School by parking there.
A stewardship committee is actively working on making this area more accessible and easier to navigate. Another goal of the committee is to return some of the fields to agricultural use. An existing barn on the property could help to facilitate this.
This land was farmed for many years by Alton and Helen McDonald. Alton used to hay the fields on his property, as well as some of the fields the town owned that you will pass on your hike.
This area is reserved for "passive" (meaning physically active) recreation. In the summer it is excellent for hiking, but be aware of ticks. Winter allows access to some areas that are wet in the summer, like those near the White Cedar Swamp. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are excellent way to travel in the winter.