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The Short Version: For more than a century, The Trustees of Reservations has been preserving the open spaces of Massachusetts for public use and enjoyment. The nonprofit cares for more than 100 properties encompassing nearly 27,000 acres where nature lovers can come together to explore and take pleasure in the outdoors. For those looking to learn more about the state’s cultural heritage or simply wanting to share experiences in the countryside, The Trustees offers a wide range of events adventurers can attend to connect with each other and the state’s beautiful landscapes. With a forward-facing mission to protect the special places of the Northeast and retain the community’s deep ties to the land, The Trustees is sure to continue to maintain the vibrancy of Massachusetts and its people well into the future.
In the ever-changing political climate of the US, the public lands we’ve all come to appreciate are routinely threatened by private development. In fact, a bill introduced to the legislature in early 2017 called for the sale of 3.3 million acres of federally owned properties to business interests.
While some argue that taking these lands out of the public domain will help the economy, there is really no argument that wins over the value they hold for residents. The recreation industry contributes more than $650 billion to the US economy and is responsible for the creation of 6 million jobs. People love to camp, fish, hike, and experience nature. In Massachusetts,
The Trustees of Reservations has been fighting to preserve its public landscapes for over 100 years.
“We’re the oldest regional land preservation and conservation nonprofit organization in existence,” said Wayne Wilkins, Director of Marketing and Communications for The Trustees. “Our core goal is to protect open spaces, and we’re now up to 116 properties in Massachusetts which total about 27,000 acres.”
The Trustees is made up of more than 100,000 members who share a passion for the outdoors and support the organization’s mission to safeguard the special places of Massachusetts from development. The nonprofit’s large collection of properties are venues for like-minded preservationists to enjoy the outdoors together. With more than 5,000 events and activities centered on cultural heritage and uniting nature enthusiasts, The Trustees is helping people nurture relationships with the land and each other.
The origin of The Trustees of Reservations can be traced back to 1891 when Charles Eliot, a landscape architect from Boston, wrote a letter to Garden and Forest magazine about the need for an organization to conserve the natural wonders of the Northeast. Charles believed parks would provide “fresh air, scenic beauty, and opportunities for quiet repose” — things he felt were in danger due to urbanization and industrialization.
“Philanthropists were saving art and putting it into museums, and Charles Eliot said, ‘We need to save open space,’” Wayne told us. “He wanted to keep these places open for general public use.”
Charles called for an organization of volunteer trustees to work in conjunction with the state legislature to create these unique spaces in New England for all people — not just for private property owners. It was then The Trustees of Reservations was born with a mission to acquire and maintain public lands and historic sites for the benefit of the citizenry.
The Trustees has amassed a wide variety of places under its protection. The organization’s properties include houses, gardens, waterfalls, extensive woodlands, Native American sites, and locations with literary connections associated with famous authors, including Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau. The Trustees has also protected over 132 rare species of plants and animals, and maintains critical habitats and beautiful trails. The acquisition of these idyllic locales demonstrate the positive impacts The Trustees has had on the natural landscape.
Whether you’re a fan of historic homes or want to experience the vistas at the top of the region’s waterfalls, The Trustees’ properties provide something for everyone. Using its website’s simple search functionalities, you can locate places of interest based on zip code, city, or name.
Garden enthusiasts seeking inspiration can mingle with other amateur horticulturists at Ashintully Gardens located in the Berkshires. With a gurgling stream, outdoor sculptures, and elegant gardens, a get-to-know-you stroll here is a perfect way to spawn a new friendship.
If impressive historic estates are more your cup of tea, The Trustees has a number of them that are sure to impress. Castle Hill on the Crane Estate presents a beautiful marriage of designed grounds and gardens with diverse natural areas. This Stuart-style mansion is opulent with its period antiques and 59 rooms, but it’s also home to wildlife, specifically several pairs of nesting horned great owls. Sometimes you can even see a bald eagle on the four miles of trail on this property.
Visitors will be happily surprised by the seven gorges and waterfalls scattered throughout the 27,000 acres. Glendale Falls, one of the longest and most powerful waterfalls in Massachusetts, is a great place to get rustic and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding forest with a companion.
If you aren’t sure where to start, take the Hike125 Challenge and see how many properties you can visit and how much ground you can cover. You’re sure to find a few favorites along the 125-mile journey.
The Trustees hosts a plethora of activities for those who like being outside. Bring a date or meet someone new at one of the organization’s many events, which encompass a broad spectrum of interests.
“Over the course of a year, we put on about 5,000 events,” Wayne said. “Anything you can do outdoors, you can do with us.”
Nothing says summer like a date on a kayak. The Trustees regularly holds self-guided kayak tours of Poucha Pond. Here, Trustees members can rent a kayak and head out on the pond and salt marshes of Chappaquiddick to explore the beauty of nature. It’s a fun way to get to know a new special someone as you marvel in nature’s bounty. If hitting the water doesn’t meet your idea of meditating, Summer Trailside Yoga would be a good place to look for a fellow nature lover.
For those who see a romantic picnic and live music as more their speed, the Castle Hill Picnic Concerts might be a perfect match. Danceable music, gorgeous gardens to stroll, and yummy foodstuffs (if you don’t like to pack your basket) are on hand as you get cozy with your date on a blanket built for two.
The Trustees also schedule a plethora of cooking classes. If you’re feeling a little exotic and want to share your love of spice with a date, the Egyptian, Persian, and Indian cooking class is a wonderful place to do it. Sip mint tea while you get hands-on and make an assortment of salads and fantastic couscous while discussing Middle Eastern culture.
“We have everything from healthy eating to wine tasting,” Wayne said. “We even have a signature chef series with some of the city’s best chefs. There’s always a huge range of things going on.”
With romantic nighttime hikes, fishing, forest fairy houses, and beach tours, you’ll never run out of things to do in nature at Trustees events.
While there are many threats to open spaces in the US, we’re fortunate to have an organization like The Trustees to help preserve and protect them. For more than a century, The Trustees has been steadfastly working toward keeping the public lands of Massachusetts safe from development, and the nonprofit shows no signs of slowing down.
“We are working on several new initiatives,” Wayne said. “We’re in talks now for an innovative new park for the shoreline of the Boston waterfront. In the fall we will present the outdoor play ‘Nature’ in Concord.”
If you’re a nature lover and are looking to meet others who are also passionate about the outdoors, The Trustees’ events and properties offer fantastic opportunities to make connections in beautiful surroundings.