Nature Trails

Wildflowers growing in behind the museumNature Trails map for the Keep Homestead MuseumAbout half of the 75 acres is open meadow and wetlands, and half is woodland.

The combined length of the nature trails is less than two miles. The trails are open year-round for hiking, and for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Trail maps can be downloaded here and are available in the parking lot. The grade of the trails is moderately strenuous.

Take time to stop and observe animal activity and identify plants along the way. There is a good variety of mixed hardwood, coniferous trees and other woodland plants. Other plants are in bloom at various times of the year around the pond and meadows.

Nature Trail topographic map at the Keep Homestead MuseumThe small granite quarry on the Christmas Fern Trail is now the only one left on the property. The depression left by the quarry has become a vernal pool that attracts salamanders and wood frogs in the springtime. They mate, lay eggs and mature before the temporary pool dries up.

No motorized vehicles or hunting are allowed!

Tornado damage

On June 1, 2011, an EF-3 tornado, half a mile wide, swept 39 miles from Westfield to Southbridge. It crossed over Mt. Ella and across the Keep Homestead Museum property, then down into the center of Monson. It took down most of the trees next to the buildings on the site. Fortunately, they all fell AWAY from the buildings. The porta-potty in the parking lot rolled out into the field, however, service people were there the next day to take care of this. It took some shingles from the barn roof. The electric and phone wires were ripped out. The house had many cracked and broken windows, and, except for minor damage to the corner where the wires had been, there was no damage to the collection itself.

There was major damage in the woods above the museum and considerable damage to the nature trails. For the next several years work to repair the trails was conducted. It took the combined efforts of our landscaper, an Eagle Scout candidate, neighbors, crews from the Commonwealth, and FEMA to repair the damage. On September 6, 2015, the restored trails were dedicated in memory of John Colleton who had originally worked to create them.