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Posted by Katie Marshall, guest blogger of The Trustees of Reservations

Fall in New England means the end of summer bugs, humidity, and traffic and the beginning of crisp air, stunning foliage, and plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors. With 117 hiking destinations, working farms, historic homesteads, beaches, inns, campgrounds and more located across Massachusetts, The Trustees, has a programming calendar overflowing with ways for residents and visitors of all ages to make the most of autumn’s splendor with family and friends.
To get started, the statewide conservation and preservation nonprofit is hosting three special free entry days, back by popular demand this year! On Columbus Day, Monday, October 8, admission to some of the nonprofit’s signature historic homesteads — including Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, the Old Manse in Concord, Naumkeag in the Berkshires and Fruitlands Museum in Harvard — is free for all county residents. To celebrate Veteran’s Day, admission all Trustees properties is free to veterans, active and retired military, and their families, on both Sunday, November 11 and Monday, November 12. Several Trustees historic houses are also open for tours on one or both days! On Green Friday, the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 23), The Trustees will also offer free entry to all at outdoor properties that normally charge admission or parking fees. Many other properties are also offering special programs on Green Friday, so skip the shopping and get outside with family and friends!

Pumpkin display at Appleton Farms

For culture vultures who’ve been meaning to check out The Trustees’ latest Art & the Landscape public art installation, TunnelTeller at the historic Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, free entry days are the perfect way to explore this property which normally charges admission at the gate. The large-scale, maze-like structure was designed by renowned contemporary artist Alicja Kwade and rests on the site of the estate’s former hedge maze and is great for all ages. On view through April of 2019, TunnelTeller invites visitors to explore its concrete walls, reflective steel tubes, and smooth stone spheres, materials which harken back to the Crane family’s history in plumbing – and share their favorite photos and videos with #artXlandscape. Afterward, register for a house or landscape tour or take a self-guided tour by downloading the TourTrustees app!
Halloween is another great time to gather the whole family for spooktacular fun. Non-scary options for the wee ones abound on Trustees properties, and now grown-up Halloween festivities are fast becoming a regular feature. Weir River Farm’s Boo in the Barnyard, a South Shore family favorite, will now be offered at Powisset Farm and The FARM Institute. The Mummy: A Castle Hill Halloween Party and the Appleton Farms Costume Cocktail Party are perfect for older kids but the hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails were definitely chosen with mom and dad in mind! For real frights, check out the Haunted House at Naumkeag in Stockbridge and the William Cullen Bryant Homestead’s Homestead Haunted House. Don’t miss Hillside Halloween at Fruitlands for trick or treating at each museum building, be awed by Mystery Theater with Magician Melies at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead or try your luck with the Spirits of the Manse at the Old Manse in Concord, known for its hauntings. Pumpkins in the Park at Bird Park, the Nocturnal Animal Pumpkin Trail at the Stevens Coolidge Place and Naumkeag’s Pumpkin Trail are all suitable for all ages and offer memorable fun.

William Cullen Bryant Homestead

For the littlest littles (and their bigs!) who love farm animals, Trustees farms are offering regular Open Barnyard programs through October at Weir River Farm in Hingham and Powisset Farm in Dover. Stop by and say hi to pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, and bunnies who call these farms home, with Barnyard educators available to assist and answer questions. With the fall harvest bounty in full swing, stop by farm stands are also still selling produce, meats and more, plus there are fields, hills, forest and trails aching to be explored, making these farms a full day destination for the whole family.
For even more programs like guided hikes, cooking classes, kids programs and cocktail parties, and the last few events in The Trustees’ popular outdoor biergarten series, visit