Spring was coming, but the day didn’t seem it. There was snow on the ground and it was drizzling. The weather was as mopey as I felt. Perfect day to stay inside and waste time on the Internet and social media. Or so I thought.

Once again the readers, both of them, at this website came through. “Neil, you have a website talking about getting into the outdoors, and you want to waste time on Facebook?!” Or so went my internal conversation.  And I got fed up with the talking and so I pulled on my jacket, boots, gloves, and other winter gear…. and sat in the car.

I didn’t know where to go. But the Rubicon was crossed; I was going somewhere. I mentally ran through the list of places I’ve been to, and started on those I hadn’t. One name popped up: Green Hills Preserve. It’s a Natural Lands Trust property, and thus on my list of places for 2015. The day wasn’t green. I doubted the hills were. But I drove out.

Green Hills sounds like a housing development, and if it weren’t for the crash of 2008 it might have been. The 168 acres of land south of Reading was slated to be turned into lawns and McMansions, but the plans foundered and the site went into foreclosure in 2009. Banks, despite what you think, hate to be stuck with property, and the lien holding bank contacted Natural Lands Trust to see if the land could be saved as open space. The Trust set to work to line up the money, and eventually they had the keys to woods, fields, and streams.

As I suspected, the preserve wasn’t green when I arrived at the parking lot on Gunhart Road. Brown and white and gray dominated the scene.


The preserve features two miles of trails, and they are a work in progress. At the moment the trails use the old tractor paths from its farming days, but Natural Lands Trust’s volunteers – the Force of Nature – regularly work to reroute the footpaths. I paused in a copse and listened to the birds.

Walking in the snow and mud was tiring, but worth it. I was wet and soggy, and my boots were wet from crossing the preserve’s stream, but I had a good time. And when I got home and was warm and dry, I finally had something worthwhile to share on social media.