Places to Explore — Central Massachusetts
Not sure where to start exploring? Try visiting one of our wildlife sanctuaries in Central Massachusetts.
Nature Center & Trails
Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary
Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary
Cook's Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary
Eagle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary
Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary
Lake Wampanoag Wildlife Sanctuary
Lincoln Woods Wildlife Sanctuary
Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
Pierpont Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary
Rocky Hill Wildlife Sanctuary
Rutland Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
Other Sanctuaries - Central
Cheshire Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Ashburnham
Near Lake Wampanoag Wildlife Sanctuary in Gardner and abutting Ashburnham State Forest, this wildlife sanctuary is situated on the drainage divide between the Connecticut River basin and the Merrimac River basin.
Conservation Features: A mix of upland forest including Eastern hemlock, maples, and birches, and wetlands that host active beaver colonies. The wildlife sanctuary's varied habitats support many bird species ranging from marsh birds and several duck species to raptors and dozens of songbird species.
Elm Hill Wildlife Sanctuary straddles the town line separating Brookfield and North Brookfield. It is located north of Route 9 between the centers of Brookfield and East Brookfield.
Conservation Features: The majority of the forest at Elm Hill is transition hardwoods dominated by red oak and including maples and birches. The sanctuary’s landscape consists of a series of hills—a drumlin cluster—that are topped by fields and former orchards; the views from the open hilltops are sweeping. Elm Hill is protected by an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) held by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. Most of the fields are leased to local farmers. Elm Hill supports populations of many wide-ranging animals, including black bear, fisher, and eastern coyote. The sanctuary’s early-successional habitats also support songbird species of conservation concern.
Laurel Woods Wildlife Sanctuary, Holden
This small property, consisting of a riparian swamp and adjacent upland forests, is located in Holden. The property has boundary signage and frontage on Broad Street.
Conservation Features: As the name implies, much of Laurel Woods Wildlife Sanctuary contains a dense shrub layer of mountain laurel. The upland forest is a mix of eastern white pine and eastern hemlock along with a variety of hardwood species. The remaining forest is primarily red maple swamp. Due to the density of vegetation and absence of a trail system, it is best to observe this site from along the road edge abutting the property.
Whetstone Wood Wildlife Sanctuary, Wendell, Orange, & New Salem
Mass Audubon's largest sanctuary sits at the junction of Wendell, Orange, and New Salem in North Central Massachusetts.
Conservation Features: Much of Whetstone Wood Wildlife Sanctuary is typical of forests in Massachusetts that grew following farm abandonment: a mixed forest type that provides habitat for a variety of species, including birds, amphibians, and mammals. Surrounded by significant public and private conservation lands, the sanctuary is a central link in the conserved land network that includes the Quabbin Reservoir and the Wendell State Forest. It provides an important corridor for wildlife to travel safely through this region. This landscape function is one reason that the sanctuary is managed strictly for the protection of wildlife.