Thursday, November 3, 2011
CHOCORUA CONSERVATION LANDS: 11/1/11
Looking for late foliage, I headed down to a favorite lowland area on the south side of Mt. Chocorua, two days after the surprise pre-Halloween snowfall. In the mountains, we lucked out with only 4 to 6 inches of snow, compared to two feet of heavy wet snow and accompanying power outages in the southern part of the state. By this day, a good bit of the snow had already melted at the lower elevations.
The Chocorua Conservation Lands cover 700 acres of rolling terrain west of Chocorua Lake. They included the Frank Bolles Reserve, the Clark Reserve, and the Mary Scott Nature Reserve The area is managed by the Nature Conservancy and Chocorua Lake Conservation Foundation. There is a fine network of trails here that provides possibilities for interesting loop hikes in the 3 to 5 mile range. The trails are shown on the WODC map of the Sandwich Range, though not all are named on it. The CLCF once published an informative map/flyer on the trails, but it is no longer readily available.
Before heading onto the trails, I drove down to the south end of Chocorua Lake for the classic water-and-mountain view of Chocorua.
Whiteface and Passaconaway were looking mighty fine, too.
I parked at the Hammond Trail parking area near the end of Scott Road off Rt. 16. Across the road a sign marks the access route into the Chocorua Conservation Lands.
The access route crosses the historic, privately owned Hammond farm property.
At the edge of the field, I turned left on the Heron Pond Trail.
A nice entry in the trail register.
Climbing up over an esker (a small glacial ridge), I emerged in a colorful hardwood forest.
Heron Pond, also known as Lonely Lake, was lovely in the morning sun. Last year at this time the water level of this glacial kettle pond was way down; it was good to see it back to normal. The ridge known as Bickford Heights is in the background.
Nice colors by a cove and an island. This place was a favorite haunt of the naturalist Frank Bolles, who owned a home nearby and wrote At the North of Bearcamp Water in 1893.
Late fall foliage along the shore.
After a long break, I continued to the next trail junction.
I followed the Middle Trail, and then the steep Bickford Heights Trail, to the 1060-ft. summit of Bickford Heights, where there is a ledgy spot with a partial view to the west.
Mt. Israel (L) and Young Mtn. (R).
A nice zoomed look at Sandwich Dome, way off at the far end of the Sandwich Range.
Coming down off the west side of Bickford Heights, the trail crosses some steep, slippery ledges.
At the bottom there is a collection of impressive glacial boulders. Some large slices have calved off this one.
I followed the Old Mail Road south along the top of another esker.
An obscure side path led to the "Splitting Stone," where early settlers split off slabs for foundation stones.
I visited this small glacial kettle pond just off the Old Mail Road.
A cellar hole is tucked into the woods by the junction of the Old Mail Road and the Hunter's Trail.
The Hunter's Trail leads past this stone-built "Hunter's Blind."
Up on a high hardwood plateau, the Hunter's Trail passes between these two big boulders just
before its junction with the Highland Trail.
Looking back at the boulders.
Attractive trail signs.
The Highland Trail descends through some fine hardwood forest.
Last sun on Bald Mountain, back at the Hammond Farm, capping off a very pleasant 5.2 mile loop with about 900 ft. of elevation gain.