This 200-acre property was originally owned by the Stoddard and Leblanc families. Wanting to keep the land open as a tribute to their family legacies, the Stoddards and LeBlancs worked with Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust to convey their lands to the Town of Athol Conservation Commission.
The protection of this area complements the rich, cultural history of Athol. The area abuts the former Morgan Memorial Fresh Air Camps, now owned by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and open to the public. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the properties original cart road where you can walk along 0.25 miles of the former Rabbit Run Railroad that once traveled from Athol center to Springfield, MA. Some common wildlife seen in the area include owls, songbirds, porcupine, white-tail deer, turkey, and black bear.
To find the South Athol Conservation area entrance: travel south on South Athol Road from Athol center and the entrance will be on the right 1.1 miles south of the route 2 overpass, between the intersections of Riceville Road and Conant Road. (GPS - 3800 South Athol Road) A Conservation Area sign at the driveway will point you down the dirt roadway to a small parking area on the right before the gate (private residence).
The trailhead is just off the left of the parking area and a short trail brings you to a well-worn cart path leading out to the Rabbit Run. You are now ready to explore Athol's newest conservation area.
A portion of the old "Rabbit Run" railroad passes through the South Athol Conservation Area
Vernal pools whose temporary waters are the breeding grounds for many frogs toads and salamanders
Spotted Salamander (with yellow spots) and the state listed Jefferson Salamander are both known to inhabit pools in the South Athol area. Other salamanders you might find in South Athol are Red-backed, four-toed and Red Eft the terrestrial form of the Red-spotted Newt. Other amphibians include Wood Frogs, Gray Tree Frogs, Bull frogs, Green Frog Pickerel Frogs and occasionally Leopard frogs and American Toad. Reptiles to watch for include Painted Turtle, Spotted Turtle, Snapping Turtle, Musk Turtle, Wood Turtle, and Box Turtle. If you see a box Turtle or Wood Turtle take a photo and sent it to Dave@atholbirdclub.org and he will confirm Identification and walk you through the process of adding it to the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species database.
Birdlife is abundant in the mixed pine-oak forest. The Black-throated Blue Warbler pictured above is a regular breeding bird in the conservation area. Spring and Fall migration will produce the most species on any given day but something can be found on almost any day of the year.