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Black Friday, without the crowds

Kestrel Land Trust’s free new maps will help residents to #OptOutside

  • The goal of the maps is to help people feel more comfortable exploring trails they haven’t been to before. Contributed images

  • Twenty free trail maps — for hiking, cross-country skiing, exploring with young children or walking dogs — will be available to download on Friday, allowing users to experience the Amethyst Brook Conservation Areas in Amherst and Pelham, above. Contributed image/ Johanna Hartman, Kestrel Land Trust



@AndyCCastillo
Monday, November 19, 2018

Come Black Friday when the lines form in front of the box stores and around cars at the Holyoke Mall, those at Kestrel Land Trust, an Amherst-based nonprofit conservation organization, are hoping to spark interest in perhaps a more fulfilling past time: hiking.

Executive Director Kristin DeBoer says the land trust will release of a series of 20 trail maps to guide families and solo hikers to explore nature on protected public trails throughout the heart of the Pioneer Valley. Maps will be available for free online on Friday.

“Our goal with these trail maps is to inspire more people to enjoy the public parks and trails that Kestrel has helped create with our town, state, and federal public partners over the past several decades,” DeBoer said. “We hope people of all ages will be able to use these maps to feel more comfortable exploring a trail they haven’t been to before. They may even discover there’s a place close to home they didn’t know about.”

While there is a lot of public protected land in the Valley, often trail maps don’t exist. And if maps are available, they may not be user-friendly or may be difficult to find online, she said.

The map collection includes a variety of local walking or hiking trails including the universally accessible Fort River Birding and Nature Trail at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Hadley, and other routes in Northampton, Amherst, Belchertown, Hadley and Pelham. 

They were made by the land trust in collaboration with Northampton-based design firm Transit Authority Figures. Rob Stewart, founder and creative director at the firm, noted he walked the trails with his 10-year-old daughter before designing them.

“Not only did it help guide the hike but the words unspooled like a scavenger hunt, giving us items to spy for through the woods. I think that will be a big hit with kids,” Stewart said.

Kestrel will be launching the map collection alongside REI’s national #OptOutside day on Nov. 23. The campaign, which is driven mostly on social media, encourages people to spend Black Friday with friends and family outside — instead of in a mall.

On Friday, the entire collection will be available to download for free at kestreltrust.org.