Rice Nature Preserve
The Rice Nature Preserve, located east of Main Street in Wilbraham, was acquired through the cooperative efforts of former landowner Jesse Rice, the Town of Wilbraham, the Minnechaug Land Trust, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Self-Help Program. It abuts other existing Town-owned conservation lands located to the east.
Here is a photograph of the Rice Fruit Farm in Wilbraham, looking towards the East. The upper 150 acres are now known as Rice Nature Preserve and belong to the Town of Wilbraham. The lower 90 acres have been placed under an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) and will continue to be owned and farmed by the Rice Family. The red line is a rough sketch of part of the dividing line between the two properties. The trailhead on Highmoor Drive is just below the bottom right corner. Sunrise Peak is at the top right.
A description of the trails is given on a separate page.
There is a trail map by Alison Platek of trails on the Rice Nature Preserve. Warning: The file size of the map is over 2 MB, so its download may take a little time. We have put the map on a separate page because then the browser will adjust the map size to your screen.
If you would like to print the map from your browser, you may find that only part of the map gets printed (because the map is big). Then you can do the following:
Save the file into your own computer. Once the file is in your own computer, you can click on it. It will open using the program "Windows Picture and Fax Viewer" (or similar program), and that program will let you shrink the map to fit the screen, and will let you print the map on a single sheet of paper.
The trail system has approximately 3.4 miles of maintained trails. The designated trails are marked with signs at trail junctions and white rectangular blazes along the way. The main access to the high meadows views is via the Highmoor and Rachael Phelps trails. A nice loop with varied terrain is Highmoor, Rachael Phelps, Underpeak, turning left briefly on Sunrise back to Rachael Phelps at the top, and return on Rachael Phelps and Highmoor. For a longer trip, an eastern view is seen at the east end of Sunrise trail. Note that the trails are rough in spots, with some rocks and roots. Sturdy footwear is advised. Please limit use of trails under wet conditions to minimize erosion.
The public may use the Rice Nature Preserve for passive conservation and recreation purposes, subject to reasonable regulations by the Wilbraham Conservation Commission. Principal public access to the property is located at the main trailhead at the end of Highmoor Drive. Parking for eight cars is provided on the Highmoor Drive cul-de-sac.
Passive outdoor recreational activity includes hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, educational studies, and nature observation.
Leave No Trace
If you pack it in, pack it out! Leave nothing but footprints. If you will not be reusing the map, please return it to the map box.
Prohibited Activities- Expressly prohibited activities include:
The Minnechaug Land Trust maintains the property under a land use and management plan with the Wilbraham Conservation Commission. Tax deductible donations for maintenance expenses can be made by sending a check to the Minnechaug Land Trust, PO Box 455, Hampden, MA 01036, indicating "Rice Nature Preserve Stewardship Fund" in the left hand corner.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Please send EMail to HLP455@aol.com.