The gentle trails of Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge in Jefferson and Whitefield, on the north side of the Whites, offer some of the most scenic walking in the Whites. Just what I was looking for after a full trail work outing the previous day. This 6,405-acre tract is technically the Pondicherry Division of the larger Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. In addition to its scenery, it is noted as one of the top birding locales in New Hampshire.
For this visit, I chose an approach I hadn't done before: the Slide Brook Trail, a section of the Cohos Trail, starting from the trailhead parking area for Owl's Head Trail on NH Rt. 115. This historic marker, describing the second most notorious slide in White Mountain history (after the 1826 Willey Slide), makes for interesting reading at the trailhead.
It's a short walk along the busy road to the Slide Brook trailhead.
As a fan of walking through fields (during non-tick season), I immediately liked this trail.
From the lower end of this large field, there's a nice view looking back at the sharp peak of Owl's Head.
The long-overgrown track of the 1885 slide can be seen angling down to the left from the peak, then swinging down to the right, outlined by a strip of yellow trees.
This stereoview from Littleton View Co. is titled “Cascade Falls, Cherry Mt. Slide, Jefferson, N.H.” In the aftermath of the tragic fall of the 1885 slide, the scene became a popular tourist attraction. Supposedly this field is where the slide came to a stop. (From the New York Public Library collection).
Farther along the trail passes through a wetland along the top of an old beaver dam.