The 219 acres of the Thomas and Palmer reserve slope upward from the brook through old pasture, a wetland and mature forest to a dramatic high point of exposed bedrock. A trail through the meadow leads into the forest and winds past long-abandoned apple trees. A habitat restoration project removed invasive species in the apple orchard and surrounding area.
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Parking area is located between 301 and 309 State Road (Route 23) in Great Barrington. Across from the Koi Restaurant.
GPS: 42.1955, -73.3370 (frontage on Route 23)
Like the Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s nearby Housatonic Flats property, Thomas and Palmer is easily accessible from downtown Great Barrington. From the trailhead, a path crosses the bridge that spans Thomas and Palmer Brook, a tributary of the Housatonic River.
For adventurous hikers, an unmarked road connects to the east side of the mowed path and winds you through the upland forest.
The Thomas and Palmer reserve is on the southwestern slope of the Threemile Hill ridge that is a backdrop to much of Great Barrington’s commercial activity. The property is part of a habitat corridor reaching from Monument Mountain Reservation, Housatonic Flats, and Fountain Pond State Park in the west to the Butternut Ski Area and Beartown State Forest in the east. Keeping the entire contiguous corridor protected is important for wildlife. Much of the land, which the Berkshire Natural Resources Council acquired in 2015, was farmed until well into the last century.
Visitors can take in an expansive view of a vast wetland complex when exploring the reserve. BNRC envisions the site as an anchor from which future conservation efforts can proceed along the Threemile Hill ridge.
The old pasture is now dense with goldenrod and milkweed. The forest consists of mixed hardwoods, white pine and hemlock. Beaver activity is visible near the brook and wetland. Birds that have been attracted by the property’s diverse habitats include the American woodcock, the blue-winged warbler, the chestnut-sided warbler, the eastern towhee and the purple finch. The property offers excellent conditions for wood turtles. The Thomas and Palmer Brook corridor has been identified as core habitat by Natural Heritage, meaning it is a habitat that could have rare, vulnerable, or uncommon mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, invertebrate, and plant species.