The Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary includes approximately 500 acres in a diverse collection of open fields (both actively maintained and unmanaged), wetlands, flood plain woods, river, upland woods, plantation pines, and ponds—and is an important place for both recreation and research.
The variety of open fields located south and southeast of the main campus are important and scenic parts of the landscape and of the ecological diversity of the Sanctuary. Some are used through rental agreements for hay production, others are mowed to keep open as wildlife habitat, and several are unmanaged.
Forested areas within the Sanctuary include red pine plantations, white pine stands, areas of swamp hardwoods, flood plain hardwoods along the Fort River, and upland hardwoods.
Large specimen white oaks and white pines are present in the Eastern Wildlife Sanctuary south of College Street.
Principal water resources in the Sanctuary include:
The Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary is the site of ongoing teaching and research by students and faculty. The land is also actively managed by our Facilities Department to support conservation of animals such as grassland birds and turtles.
In 2021, the sanctuary trails were revitalized as part of the College's Bicentennial. The campus map includes tours of each of the Sanctuary trails that you can follow along as you walk. Access each tour below; there are also QR codes on trail signage that will link to each tour.
One can find many seasonal or vernal pools throughout the College Sanctuary south of College Street and west of South East Street.
Book & Plow Farm was established in 2013 through the efforts of a committee of students, professors, alums, and staff.
Mammoth Loop goes through the heart of the Sanctuary, connecting with the Book & Plow trail at several points.
Download a printable map of the Sanctuary that includes additional points of interest for each of the Sanctuary trails.
Brian House’s sound artwork Sub-Sanctuary employed a “macrophone” to record infrasound, or low-frequency waves, in the Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary over the course of a month in early 2023. This project gathered distant changes in the atmosphere that humans cannot hear but nonetheless saturate our environment, helping change our perception of the environment in which we live.
The Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2013, was created during the Great Depression to provide jobs for students and town residents.
“Encounters with Nature” is an Amherst College First-Year seminar taught by Professors Nicola Courtright and Rick Lopez that explores the nature surrounding the college, including the college's Wildlife Sanctuary.
Over the summer of 2008, Amherst College Professor of Biology Ethan Clotfelter worked closely with students to study the behavior of birds through a series of 150 nest boxes installed in the Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary.