Where We Went: Eugene D. Moran Wildlife Management Area, Windsor MA 

When We Went: July & October

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10): 1 Boot

Trail Length: Less than two miles of trail through the spruce grove on the Bosma Road Side. 2nd trail on Fobes Hill across the street. 

How Long it Took Us: 1.5 hours

Overview: Eugene D. Moran Wildlife Management Area is an expansive 1,462-acre high in the hilltown of Windsor. Once a dairy farm, the hilly area is now used for nature & wildlife conservation, hunting, fishing, and recreation.

Named in memory of Eugene D. Moran of Dalton, a career Department of Fisheries & Wildlife employee who had been western district manager for 18 years at the time of his unexpected death on July 18th, 1973.

Erected almost 50 years ago, a stone honors the man thoroughly dedicated to his work. Moran lived and breathed the DFW, volunteering extra hours to show films for youth groups at the Boys and Girls Club, organizing fishing derbies, teaching wildlife courses at Berkshire Community College, and earning the mutual respect of both conservationists and sportsmen alike.

The successional forest habitat is also now a Massachusetts Important Bird Area (or IBA — yup, that’s a thing.) Owned by MassWildlife, the site is an important migratory stopover for migratory birds, such as warblers, has a high concentration of nesting activity, and consistently high species diversity.

All that to say, if you’re into bird watching, this is your kind of place. A “twitcher” is slang for a birdwatcher whose main aim is to collect sightings of rare birds and many “lifers” (first-ever sighting of a bird species by an observer), have been spotted here. So grab your binoculars head to 8A and have yourself a “Big Day” (a birding event in which a birder tries to see as many species of birds as possible within a calendar day.)

What We Dug: As you drive up Route 9 into the open, windswept town of Windsor, it almost feels like you are perched on top of a precipice, with big sky views all around you. And if you’re a frequent hiker in the hills of the Berkshires, you may be familiar with something called the “green tunnel effect.” Especially during the lush summer months, walks through the woods can feel claustrophobic underneath all those canopies of green.

When we’re looking to break out of the emerald labyrinth but don’t want the added exertion of a summit or overlook hike, Eugene D. Moran is the place to be. It offers expansive views at the lowest elevation of 1,750 feet and the highest (at Fobes Hill), of 2,100 feet, with the added bonus of spotting Mount Greylock in the distance. 

It’s also home to 99 different breeding bird species and other wildlife species. Whether you’re serious about birding or just like to have fun, bringing a pair of binoculars and a basic bird book here is a great way to spend an afternoon. We also spend some time walking what’s left of the farmhouse foundations and imagining what the landscape once looked like with cows in the pasture. 

Diverse habitats make up Moran Wildlife Area, including freshwater marsh, spruce stands, and shrub habitats. The gravel road and trails are easy walks and not hard to follow out and back. This is an excellent space to run around a little and release some energy!

What We Could Do Without: It is a bit confusing that these two wildlife areas are bisected by busy 8A/Savoy Road.

The parking area and trail on the left side of Savoy Road as you head towards Savoy is fairly straightforward. Lesser known is the parking area and trail on the right side of the road, known as “Fobes Hill” (or Forbes Hill, there’s a bit of discrepancy on this.)

It is the trail at Fobes Hill you should climb if you’re in search of views of Mount Greylock and spotting some hawk activity. 

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: BIRDS! Including, but not limited to: Red-Tailed Hawks, Chickadee, Pheasant, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Pine Siskin, Shrike, American Kestral. Also: Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, American Elm, Aspen, Twinflower,  Beaver, Otter, Farm Foundations.

Must Know Before You Go’s: No facilities. Be aware that pheasant hunting is allowed here. Take caution in the Spring & Fall Hunting Seasons. Cross-Country Skiing and Snow-Shoeing Allowed in winter. Take proper precautions to protect yourself against tick bites. Pack out any trash and dog bags — leave with grace. 

Directions: 435 Savoy Road, Windsor, MA 01225. From Pittsfield, travel on Route 9 east and look for the junction of Routes 9 and 8A north. Turn left onto 8A. Fobes Hill parking area is on the right, and the Bosma Road spruce grove is on the left after 0.75 miles.

Website: None

Resources: www.bywayswestmass.com, Berkshire Eagle Archives, October 1977 and July 1973.