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In the steps of a dinosaur

Dinosaur Footprints wilderness reservation
Dinosaur Footprints wilderness reservation
samuel hoff

Over 130 tracks in sandstone slabs are evidence of small groups of two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs up to 15’ tall. Hundreds of fossils may be observed including fish, plants, stromatolites, two legged dinosaurs, and other old organisms.

The 8-acre site of Dinosaur Footprints wilderness reservation is a strip of land between route 5 and Connecticut River, 3.5 miles north of downtown Holyoke Massachusetts. As defined by its name fossil footprints are the park’s main attraction.

A short trail paralleling route 5 leads from the park entrance to the dinosaur footprints. Along clearly formed dinosaur tracks are imprints left by prehistoric plants, invertebrate trace fossils with faint ripple marks of an old pool preserved in stone near the river’s west bank.

Between the reservation and the Connecticut River are railroad tracks whose owner prohibits crossing of the tracks for river access due to safety concerns. Elevation ranges from 190’ at route 5 down to 120’ at railroad tracks with the river at 105’ elevation.

The park is open April 1 to November 30 during daylight hours. A nearby road turnout has space for parking 7 cars. It is closed during winter due to slippery conditions with ice.

Dinosaur Footprints wilderness reservation has educational programs for kids. The park encourages picnicking, bird watching and hiking. Swimming, and boating access to the river is prohibited. The park does not allowed mountain biking and dogs must be leashed at all times.

The wilderness reservation was purchased in 1935 and is operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Holyoke Gas and Electric own adjacent riverside property.

Holyoke PA is a city of 40,135 between the Mount Tom mountain range and Connecticut River western bank. Englishmen first inhabited the Connecticut River Valley in 1633. The western half of the local Holyoke Range has J.A. Skinner State Park and its sister park Mount Holyoke Range State Park.

J.A. Skinner State Park is 390-acres in central Connecticut River Valley, 15 miles north of Dinosaur Footprints. Recreation includes 20 picnic sites, hiking, and a visitor center. The 7.5 mile trail is moderate/strenuous in difficulty.

Mount Holyoke Range State Park at 1,000 feet has 3,000 acres, twenty-three miles north east of Dinosaur Footprints. It provides opportunities for recreational activities of hiking, horse back riding, hunting, and cross country skiing. Notch Visitors Center is open daily with displays and programs.

Dinosaur Footprints is a 4 1/2 hour drive of 309 miles from Rochester NY. Drive I-90 east past Massachusetts border toward Springfield. Then I-90 to MA-141 E/Easthampton Rd in Holyoke. From I-91 N Exit 17 to Rt. 141 drive east toward Holyoke. Turn left onto Rt. 5 North and follow for 2.2 mi. to Dinosaur Footprints entrance on right.

Here is a visitor’s impression of the reservation.
“How amazing to be able to actually walk in a dinosaur's footsteps!”

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