Rice Preserve / Sunrise Peak Trailwalk

BenchAbout the Area

The Rice Nature Preserve was acquired through the cooperative efforts of landowner, Jesse Rice, the town of Wilbraham, the Minnechaug Land Trust, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Self-Help Program. It abuts Town-owned land to the east.

  • Facilities: Parking at the end of Highmoor Drive, no toilet facilities.
  • Features:
    • Wide open vistas on Rattlesnake Peak out to Springfield, the Berkshires, Amherst and beyond
    • A good view from Sunrise Peak out to Monson, Hampden and beyond
    • A pleasant walk through a peach orchard
    • Many alternative trails to sample
    • The remnants of an old cabin just inside the wood line on top of Rattlesnake Peak at coordinates 042° 06.015 N / 072° 25.056 W
  • Activities Permitted: All passive recreational activities are permitted. Please be careful not to leave litter and not to deface the property. Please park in designated areas and be respectful of neighborhoods in the area.
    • Hiking
    • Cross-country skiing / snowshoeing
    • Educational studies
    • Nature observation
  • Length of Trail: This trail is approximately 1.3 miles from the Highmoor Dr. entrance to Sunrise Peak.
  • Types of Surfaces: The first part of the trek is uphill for a quarter mile before there are some flat spots to help you catch your breath. A walking stick is preferred, especially when returning as the downhills can be slippery. The first part is rocky and has several boards to traverse over wet spots. This area is very slippery if it has recently rained. After the u-turn, the trail gets drier and stops being rocky, but it still moves uphill. When you break into the peach orchard, the trail continues uphill with open vistas and easy-to-traverse footing. The section from the entrance to the woods to the right turn to Sunrise Peak is up and down, rocky terrain. The climb up Sunrise Peak can be tricky. Take your time and be wary of slick pine needles. Again, going back down can be treacherous without a walking stick.
  • Location: The trail is located at the end of Highmoor Dr. in Wilbraham at the entrance to the Rice Preserve.
  • Elevation Factors: The trek starts at the 300 foot level and is mostly uphill with some steep and some gradual inclines. It reaches a high of 960 feet just before the final dip and ascent up Sunrise Peak which is at the 950 foot level. The return trip is downhill most of the way.
  • Directions: From Crane Park on Main Street in Wilbraham, head down Main Street towards Hampden. After Rice's Farmstand, you come to a fenced meadow on the right. Highmoor Drive is on the left of this meadow.
  • Map: View the map (PDF).

Hiking Directions

1042° 06.146 N072° 25.595 WThe trail head is at the end of HighMoor Drive.
2042° 06.025 N072° 25.411 WThe trail bends in a u-turn at this point.
3042° 06.060 N072° 25.310 WAt this point there is an unused, marked off trail to the left. Take the trail to the right.
4042° 06.041 N072° 25.236 WVeer left up the trail to the peach field. Do not take the side trails that go off to the right. Remain focused on climbing the hill.
5042° 06.119 N072° 25.147 WAt this point, the entrance to the peach field will be in front of you.
6042° 06.118 N072° 25.094 WContinue on the trail as it climbs Rattlesnake Peak. You will pass a bench to the right and peach trees on the left.
7042° 06.067 N072° 24.942 WThis is the point where the trail comes to a fork. Enter the woods on your left by veering off the trail through the field. Just inside the woods, there is a trail to the right (the under hill trail). Continue straight.
8042° 06.082 N072° 24.626 WAfter a quarter mile of up and down hiking, take a right turn to Sunrise when the trail comes to this intersection.
9042° 06.052 N072° 24.609 WTake a left turn at this point (just a short distance down the trail) to climb to Sunrise Peak.
10042° 06.078 N072° 24.571 WSunrise Peak gives you vistas of Monson and beyond.

Note: The trail system on the Rice Preserve has approximately 3.4 miles of maintained trails. These trails are marked with signs at trail junctures. Maps of all trails are available at the trail head.