Upton Morgan State Forest

It was a cold March 3rd and I wanted to find some Skunk Cabbage, which melt through the snow with their own heat.  I knew there were Skunk Cabbage next to the bridge in Upton – Morgan State Forest so off I went.DSCN0029

Skunk Cabbage put out their flowers before they put out leaves.

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The flowers are inside the covering, and the smell is supposed to be like rotting flesh but to be honest I didn’t smell it to find out.  They grow in the very wet soggy soil right next to the water.

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I accidentally broke off a small flower and, since it was already broken, I opened it up.

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You can see the yellow flower as well as the strange insect that was hiding inside.  While hiking I thought someone was pounding in a stake in the forest from the sound but what I found was a large woodpecker.

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All in all, it was an interesting half hour, quarter mile walk.  See other Upton-Morgan posts for maps and more on Skunk Cabbage.

Jim Hill River Walk on Snow Shoes

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The Jim Hill River Walk is still used in winter.  I found fresh cross-country ski trails  but I made the first snow shoe tracks.  I was actually passes by a mountain bike with those huge wide tires!

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The winter makes it easy to see animal tracks, the top being Whitetail Deer and the bottom a mystery to me.

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The frozen Contoocook River is not safe in my opinion, but this ice fisherman didn’t see it that way.  Snow shoeing is harder work than I remembered, and I fell once.  Getting up in deep snow it very difficult.  Plan a shorter loop than you usually walk until you have been out a few times.

Silk Farm Audubon Center and Wildlife Sanctuary Trails

The Silk Farm Audubon Center and Wildlife Sanctuary Trails (click on link for map) click here for map text, is an easy hike when it comes to elevation, it is fairly flat, but the paths are boulder and root covered.  The area has been recently forested so there are lots of semi cleared areas with branches lying around.

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I planned to walk to Turkey Pond on the “Great Turkey Pond Trail” and come back the “Old Orchard Trail”, but the “Old Orchard Trail” was closed.  There are more trails than show on the map, and updated maps are posted at the trail junctions.

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This was a good day for finding mushrooms.

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As well as a recently fallen tree that happened recent enough to leave the hole clearly visible.

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The water level in Turkey Pond is low, and I saw no ducks or geese, who will soon be using the pond as they head south for the winter.  The longer loop took me about an hour and a half and I would say was about two miles.  I didn’t use bug spray and a nice breeze off the pond kept me cool and bug free.  The trails have some small areas of poison ivy near the pond, but not a great amount.

 

 

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests Trails

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The SPNHF trail (click link for map) runs along the Merrimack river’s west bank.  The back of the map text is found by clicking here.  In the hot summer months like now, several people will be found swimming on it’s steep sandy banks.  It is also a favorite place for people to walk their dogs.  The flat trails are easy walking, but the trails are often bordered by poison ivy.  The Swenson Granite Works can be seen on the distant hill.

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The park is a peninsula, and the back side a march like area.  The tip of the peninsula is under water in the spring floods, but is quite dry now due to our extended drought.  This is a heavily used park, so expect to come across people while walking (and occasionally being startled when you thought you were alone).

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Marshy areas are not my favorite places to hike due to bugs and wet feet but the 1.5 mile trail is easy walking, and usually you will find some wildlife (but not today due to heat and low water).

Jim Hill River Walk, Revisited

I decided to take a summer walk to the first place I blogged about earlier this year.  While very beautiful, and of course changed with the seasons, I would almost change the name from River Walk to Poison Ivy and Tick Walk.

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The field from the parking lot is filled with Milkweed which are important to Monarch Butterflies.  I only saw this one in the whole field.  Possibly it is still too early since the milkweed is only starting to flower.  Interestingly most Monarch Butterflies only live a few weeks.  Only the last hatching of the season migrates to Mexico, and there will live for about eight months. I managed to flush out a mother wild turkey with her young from the field quite by accident.

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The trails are quite narrow, and Poison Ivy is totally unavoidable.

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This bridge is the first picture in my earlier blog about the Jim Hill River Walk.  See how much has grown in such a short amount of time!

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Finally, in my first blog I talked about Partridge Berries.  Here is a berry and some flowers for Partridge Berries.  I would avoid this walk is you are susceptible to Poison Ivy at this time.  Also, I left the trail with a Dog Tick and a Deer Tick I picked up along the way.

 

 

Sewalls Falls Park Trail

The Sewalls Falls Park Trail (click link for map) (Click here for map text) is an easy walking trail of just under a mile, one way, that follows the west bank of the Merrimack River.

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The access from the Sewalls Falls Road bridge is under construction, so you will want to go to the end of Second St. and take a left into the parking lot for Rotary Park.  This trail is generally easy walking and wide, with several places to view the river.  Children should be cautioned to stay away from the steep drop offs to the water.

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The memorial bench is an indication that the Merrimack River can be dangerous.  If you walk to the construction site you can see what, to us nearby residence owners, is the building of a much welcomed bridge.

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On the opposite end of the trail, examine the old dam site and the canal gates.

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This area is also the entrance to Rotary Park, and a short distance from the Morono Park Trail, to be see in future blogs. This trail makes for a perfect early evening hike with a friend or a dog or the whole “Fam Danmaly” (thanks to Mary P for that).

Oak Hill Trails

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If you want to feel like you are sixty miles north in the White Mountains, take the Oak Hill Trails (Click link for map) (Click here for map text).  I started my blog saying Marjory Swope Park and Winant Park were jewels in the Concord trail system.  Oak Hill Trails may be the crown jewel. I parked in the parking area and took the tower trail until I took a left onto the Dancing Bear Trail and out to the Swope Slope Vista.

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From the Vista you can see Kearsarge, Ragged and Cardigan mountains.  You will pass through some mountain spring pond areas just before and after the Vista.  Continuing up the tower trail  actually brings you into Loudon where the 980 foot peak is located, about a 500 foot elevation climb from the parking area.

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The fire tower is used on high fire danger days, in fact about a month ago a fire off of Bog Road in Concord was called in from the tower.  The fire was about 1000 feet behind my home and probably would have caused major damage to homes in the area if it had not been seen.

I took Ron’s Way trail to the Krupa Loop trail on the way down and on the Krupa loop is where I saw the Lady Slipper flowers. (The photo starting this blog post)  These members of the orchid family are endangered and very rare.  Please stay on the trail and enjoy them with photos only. I believe it is illegal to pick them, and they require a specific soil fungus to grow so transplanting them is also out of the question.

The hike to the fire tower is 2.25 miles, making the trip up and back about 4.5 miles and it took me about four hours.  It is a challenging hike in my opinion and I would say bring water and food.