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March 21, 2014

Walking on the wilder side

Crane Estate offers tours of refuge trails in Ipswich

Mention the Crane Estate, and most people think of the great house on Castle Hill in Ipswich with its ornate woodcarvings, sterling-silver fixtures and well-manicured grounds.

But there’s a wild side to this Trustees of Reservations property, which will be the focus of a new series of Crane Outdoor Adventures programs, including a “Stop, Look and Listen Tour” tomorrow.

“I love to be outdoors,” said Dorothy Antczak, field education program manager at the Crane Estate. “If I go to a place, my inclination is not to explore in the house, but to go outside and explore.”

The estate is divided into three regions: Castle Hill, Crane Beach and Crane Wildlife Refuge. The new programs will focus on the habitats crossed by trails in the refuge.

“We have marsh, beach and dunes,” Antczak said.

Each of these environments will be visited in tomorrow’s program, which will finish with hot cocoa served beside a bonfire.

“We’ll take the Cedar Point loop out toward the marsh,” Antczak said. “The trail walks past the marsh and out to the beach.”

The tour will approach this landscape as having a story to tell that visitors can learn how to read.

“What we’d like to be looking for are tracks and things,” Antczak said. “You can tell if you see fox tracks and bird tracks and kill tracks — that’s an obvious story in landscape. Or tracks widely spaced mean something running, so look behind for other tracks chasing.”

The Crane Estate has hosted previous outdoor programs, including kayak tours of Choate Island in Essex Bay. These will continue, and kayak tours on Fox Creek will be added, but they will be complemented by new programs throughout the year, Antczak said.

This weekend’s nature walk will be held in the afternoon and is free for adults, to encourage them to bring their children.

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