After a little “mini-vacation” last week (to hang drywall in my house, I sure know how to take a vacation!), it was time to get back to the wilderness! For this week’s adventure, we decided to check out the eastern acreage of the Moose Mountains Reservation. A map of the area can be seen here and you can check out their blog as well.
This is a great spot not far from the AWWA office. A quick drive up Route 153 toward Middleton, a right onto Ridge Road, another right onto New Portsmouth Road, and just ride the road right to the very end and you are at the parking area. We had plenty of snow to work with today (Tuesday the 26th). I strapped on my snowshoes, grabbed a map of the trails and started the journey. This was completely an exploratory mission as I had never been on this side of the Reservation. The trail maps available were great and there is plenty to explore!
About half way in Burrows Farm Trail, we found our first neat feature. The great part about the Reservation is that the Forest Society has put a lot of effort into marking and maintaining trails as well as marking any interesting sites. The above pictures are of Hall Spring. It was a small area with liquid water that bubbles up from an underground water source. After a quick look we continued on the trail for another quarter mile or so before Burrows Farm Trail junctions with North Trail. This being our first visit, and the goal being to catch a glimpse of the western edge of our watersheds, we headed up North Trail.
At this junction, the trail actually becomes a snow mobile trail, which meant I could exchange my snowshoes for micro-spikes and move quite quickly up North Trail. North Trail forms a junction with Piper Mountain Trail in about a quarter mile. Our goal was to go as far up North Trail as possible, see what sort of views we could get to, and then get ourselves out to Beauty Ledge where we could see the western border of our watersheds. I decided that if we had time, we could venture onto Piper Mtn Trail and check out Bowser Pond on the way down. We continued up North Trail.
We took North Trail all the way to a large clearing where the snow mobile trail continues north and the beginning of Beauty Knob Trail starts to the southwest. We decided to continue north and see if we could get a view from there. Turns out that trail actually opens up in a few spots and gave us some great views of the White Mountains and Lovell Lake.
Midway down this trail we also came across a neat find…scat! Not your everyday scat find either, it was Coyote scat. Looks mostly like medium sized dog poop, but is extremely hairy!
We ventured down this trail for quite a ways before turning back and heading toward the clearing with the beginning to Beauty Knob Trail. When we started Beauty Knob Trail, I had to switch back to snowshoes as we were breaking trail to Beauty Ledge.
After trekking up the side of the hill in about 2 feet of packed powder, we arrived at Beauty Ledge. A nice little spot with a view to the south and east.
This is a great spot to hang out and take in the great view of the local area. The large white area in view is Union Meadows and the Branch River. The picture below is a shot of Bowser Pond which we visited on our way out. This is a great shot because you can actually see the wetland the leads into the pond. The trees in the middle of the white expanse are actually old, dead, and rotting trees that are now part of a wetland system.
We left Beauty Ledge and took the Beauty Knob Trail back down to North Trail. There were some pretty neat sites on this trail that are worth the side trip. Below are some pictures a giant boulder removed from the ledges, named Snapping Turtle Rock. Don’t be fooled, although covered in snow, it is a giant boulder!
Another successful journey. The Moose Mountains Reservation is a must for novice and experienced hikers and wilderness buffs alike. There is a large network of trails, miles to hike on, and plenty to see (and we just explored the eastern section!). The last picture I will leave you with is one of Bowser Pond, our final stop on this great morning of exploration!