Summer Naturalist Program

The purpose of our Summer Naturalist Program is to provide community outreach and education in support of our conservation mission at the Mill Trail Property off of Notchbrook Road. In particular, the Summer Naturalist Program provides learning opportunities – especially for children – that inspire local citizens to engage with their natural world and foster a life-long love and appreciation for the land.

Thanks to generous support from Bowie and Helen Duncan, our Summer Naturalist Program was launched in 2013. In 2016, we began partnering with the VHCB AmeriCorps Program to hire a Stewardship & Outreach Assistant who's primary job is to run the Summer Naturalist Program. The program is based on the 31-acre Mill Trail Property that was purchased by us and conserved in 2003. With an historic cabin, old mill site along the West Branch River, and the remains of a hill farm long grown up to forest, it is an ideal site to explore and connect with Stowe’s rich natural and cultural history. We maintain a section of the Mill Trail which begins at the property’s trailhead on Notchbrook Road and continues 1 mile upstream to Bingham Falls. This short and easy walk is a great round-trip for hikers of all ages. 

Summer Naturalist programming includes guided walks for all ages, and active programs for children and families on topics from trees to insects to streams – all with an emphasis on our connection to the land both past and present. Visitors learn about the Stowe area’s ecology, wildlife, history and other wonders. Programs are free and open to the public. School and summer camp groups can also sign up to visit the site and participate in a guided program during the week or to assist with stewardship projects from trail work to invasives control. Contact us today for more information.

The Moravian Cabin at Mill Trail
The cabin at the Mill Trail Property was constructed in 1935 in the unique Moravian style as one of the first ski-in roadside inns, and provided accommodations for Stowe’s first skiers. Recently restored, the cabin’s goal is to provide a gateway for educating the public and furthering SLT’s mission to conserve scenic, recreational, and productive farm and forest lands for the benefit of the greater Stowe community. The Summer Naturalist Program is based out of the cabin, which is currently open to the public for special events or outings only. Contact us today for more information.

Posts from the Naturalist's Journal

To all the spiders at Wiessner Woods: I’m sorry I ruined your day.

I came back to the office drenched in sweat with mud up to my calves, stinging scrapes on my shins, hemlock needles embedded in my hair, and spider webs plastered to my neck and shirt. I even found a transplant crawling on me as I began to write this. Today I monitored the boundary at Wiessner Woods, a Stowe Land Trust fee-owned property and popular destination for dog walking and cross country skiing depending on the season. More...

Green has exploded on the Mill Trail. Bright from rain's kisses and the sun’s embrace, leaves have burst from their buds, scattering husks along the path like forgotten shotgun shells. Ferns have unrolled their fiddleheads into fronds with open arms for blades. The early spring ephemeral flowers have been crowded over in the blitz for space and sunlight. Few trillium flowers cling desperately to their tripod, but they too will fall. Trout lilies have been drowned in shadow by the newly closed canopy. In this new greenwashed world, are there any flowers left? More...

Spring is drenching the Mill Trail. A telltale squish follows me wherever I go, but the cold drizzle that patters my raincoat sounds as delicate as clinking champagne flutes. Although the weather feels like early April, May signs are everywhere. More...