For a short hike that is good with small children, consider the Upton-Morgan State Forest Interpretive Trails. (Clink link for map) (click here for text accompanying map) The entire trail takes an adult about fifteen minutes to walk, thirty minutes if you stop and read the signs.
The forest is right beside route 89 and highway noise is constant, however the forest has chain link fences so children can’t stray into harms way. There are downed trees and root stocks throughout, and a small bridge for trolls to live under (if you enjoy telling your kids such stories).
At the bridge you will see lots of Skunk Cabbage, named so because if you break off and smell a leaf you will find a bad smell. This plant is one of the first to put through the snow in spring because unlike any other plants I know it produces its own heat to melt through the snow.
April 14, 2016 This was a high fifty degree day, and perfect for a walk at the Weir Road / Boscawen Town Forest Trails. (Click for map) (click here for text accompanying map) A short walk down the trail I took a right on to the Daggody Hill trail and went down to the bridge that crosses the beaver pond outlet.
There are some freshly blown over trees and in the stream in an eddy just below the beaver dam I saw these frog eggs in the water.
A short distance up the trail after the bridge take a left to the bench on the spur trail labeled “Beaver Pond Overlook”. If you are quiet you may see the Blue Heron that is nesting on a dead tree directly over the beaver lodge.
(I scared it away by accident) After this the trail starts up Daggody Hill which has the afternoon sun on it and is a warm place for basking like this Garter Snake. Garter Snakes do not lay eggs, instead giving live birth.
At the end of the Daggody Hill trial I took a right to the Boscawen Forest parking lot and took the Colby Loop trail. This brings you to the Weir homestead site.
The cellar hole for the house and barn are there along with a picture and history of the site. I took a right to continue back on Weir Road, and from here on the path was quite muddy. There is a right turn onto the Hardy By Pass which is not on the map but is clearly marked.
The beaver pond covers the Weir Road at this point making the by pass needed. (Road on the left) The whole loop is 2.9 miles and took me two hours (90 minutes of walking). There are several ups and downs, muddy spots, and rocky sections so use your walking sticks. Also be warned, I came home to find my first tick of the season.
New England did one of its 70 degrees to single digit drops this week and left about three inches of snow. I chose a flat hike on what I knew was sandy soil hoping that the melting snow would simply sink into the sand instead of creating mud (I was correct). The Jim Hill River Walk (click for map) (click here for text accompanying map) or Lehtinen Park Trail as the map is labeled is a popular place in the summer due to Daisy Beach, a sandy point on a sharp bent in the Contoocook river seen below.
I walked taking a left turn at the “shortcut” sign soon after the bridge, past Daisy beach, and up the river until the the second trail comes in on the right labeled “Runnell’s Road”
(You come up to the back of the sign) and followed the Runnell’s road trail back to the starting point. The total distance was 2.3 miles and an hour of walking time.
The top picture is of Partridge Berry and the bottom picture is Checkerberry. They both get red berries but if you break off the leaf of a Checkerberry and crush it in your fingers you will smell wintergreen. The Checkerberrys are edible, feeling waxy, and the leaves can be brewed to make a weak wintergreen tea. Partridge berry plants have a distinct yellowish stripe up the center of the leaves and to not smell of wintergreen when crushed.
They often grow side by side as seen above.
The opposite side of the river once you turn north from Daisy beach is Mast Yard State Forest, a favorite place for mountain biking if flat and easy riding is your style (like me.) This means there are no houses on the far bank of the river as you head north. The Contoocook river here is a good place to canoe and canoes can be rented at Contoocook River Canoe Company about a mile downriver from the river walk.