Borderland State Park is a state-owned, public recreation area located in the towns of Hadley and South Hadley in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. The park’s 1,100 acres (450ha) include forested hillsides, glacial plains, wetlands, rolling meadows, and bedrock bluffs overlooking the river valley. It is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation which protects forests of maple and oak trees as well as farmland with fields of wheat and soybeans. The park was created through land donations made to the state for recreational purposes by Springfield businessman Ernest Stillman and his son John Alden Stillman.
The park has views of Mount Tom, Mount Everett, and Mount Holyoke. On clear days, New Hampshire’s Mount Washington can be seen across the Connecticut River. There is also an Olympic-sized swimming pool open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. A campground with tent and trailer sites is available mid-April through Columbus day. Camping fees begin at $20 per night for a regular site and go up depending on the size of your unit. Reservations can not be made online but must be done so via phone or at the park office. The park hosts numerous events including picnics, family games, historical reenactments, holiday light shows, summer theater, music concerts, fairs, and more.
The park office is staffed seasonally – typically around May, October, and November – to answer general questions about the park and its activities, take reservations, make changes to existing reservations, and process payments. However, during the off-season months of December, February, March, September, and August, the office is closed to the public. Instead, during these times, park staff are engaged in maintenance tasks such as weeding, tree thinning, building cleaning/maintenance, and other essential tasks necessary to keep the park clean and safe for visitors. No matter what time of year it is, if you see any wildlife that appears distressed, injured, or emaciated, call a poison control center immediately.
Borderland State Park does not have a dedicated equestrian stable; instead, horses are kept in trailers hitched to tractor-trailers and brought out onto the roadways where they are able to mix it up with traffic. This practice minimizes the spread of disease among the herd and ensures that each animal gets proper care. When taking a trail ride, the passenger(s) sit in the front seat of the truck beside the driver. Since trucks vary in height, between rides, passengers get a chance to adjust their seats to accommodate different heights. Commonly, one truck will hold several trailers filled with horses all waiting to be taken for a walkabout. These walks usually last no longer than five minutes, but are very important to the health and well being of the horses. Sometimes while walking the horses, riders will stop to pet them or even feed them carrots! After their brief exercise, the horses are returned to their respective trailers.
Occasionally, when the weather permits, park rangers lead organized groups of people on horseback along specially designated routes. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many famous horse trainers ran stables near the park, at least one of whom had a farm within striking distance of the park. Among the most notable were Charles S. Van Dusen, who trained Seabiscuit, and Robert P. Whiteside, whose horses included Riddle, Whirlaway, and Hyperion.
Rangers at the park wear clothing similar to that worn by firefighters, consisting of pants, boots, and a jacket. They carry hoses, tools, and a radio to communicate with fellow workers, and use protective gear such as gloves and helmets whenever dealing with dangerous equipment. Park rangers work closely with local police departments, and receive extensive training working alongside firefighters.Park facilities are maintained and updated to ensure safety and comfort for visitors. For example, recently installed water pumps reduced wait times for drinking water, and upgraded electrical systems decreased power interruptions.
Other recent improvements included installing wireless internet access hubs, replacing aging dock doors, and adding bike paths. Park offices close for approximately two weeks in July and August, during which time rangers are replaced by volunteers. Volunteers put in eight hours a day for four ten-hour shifts, serving food, keeping roads cleared, maintaining trails, and doing whatever else needs to be done to help preserve the park and protect its resources. The volunteer force maintains a presence throughout the rest of the year.
There are over 20 miles (32km) of marked trails open year round for:
- mountain biking
- horseback riding
- cross country skiing
- cross-country skiing
Species of birds observed at the park included:
- cow birds
- great blue herons
- snowy owls
Mammals observed at the park included:
Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles and amphibians observed at the park included: