Saturday we hit a high temperature of 65F after about a week of temps from 37-50F for highs. The snow is still melting here, making for mucky travel on trails in the woods, so it seemed like a good day to walk the paved trails by the Audubon Center in Concord, NH.
There is still a little snow in Concord — which is normally about 5-8F warmer than we are at home — and there were surprisingly long stretches of solid ice on both the paved trails and the dirt ones through the woods.
As we entered the paved trail, a small group of bicyclists whom we’d seen take off were returning after just a few minutes; one called out as they passed, “Too early!” We soon saw what he meant, as the clear asphalt quickly turned into slushy snow and then ice in the shady spots.
The paved trail, part of the West Farm Trail, runs alongside I-89, a busy and loud north-south interstate highway that runs almost 200 miles, from Bow (outside Concord) through Vermont to the Canadian border. Given the persistent and sometimes deafening traffic noise, it’s not our favourite walk, but there are always interesting things to see along the way. For instance: sumac, tree club moss, partridge berry, wintergreen, flocks of robins in the trees and on the ground, and pigeons escaping the wind tunnel where the interstate bisects Great Turkey Pond.
Also enjoyed some views into the woods and of the pond.
The paved trail connects on both sides to wooded trails, one heading back to the Audubon Center a different way — through the woods, on a slight ridge along Great Turkey Pond — and one heading north to Dimond Hill Farm and from there to Carter Hill Orchard, about 7 miles from the start. (PDF map of West End Trail). We have walked all of this trail in chunks over the past few years, but as the path soon became ice-covered and steep, we didn’t continue on today.
On the way back, we took the trail through the woods, which follows a ridge beside Great Turkey Pond most of the way before cutting back through the middle of the woods uphill to the Audubon Center itself.
I love the ridge trail, even when it got a little icy in places.
About 1/4 acre or so alongside the trail had recently been hacked to pieces.
There are a few side paths out to Great Turkey Pond, and even a tiny sandy beach at the terminus of one such path. The pond is mostly still ice-covered.
On the other side of the trail right now are mostly swampy woods, with some drier areas and brooks running through them. The spring greens are starting to show in the mosses, ferns, and even in some algae in the brook.
I came across a plant I didn’t recognise, with a budding flower inside the center. Thanks to the Plant ID group on Facebook, it was quickly identified as Epigeia repens (trailing Arbutus, aka mayflower).
Epigeia repens (trailing Arbutus)
I’ll need to return soon to smell the flowers when they bloom; apparently they have a sweet smell like a gardenia!
Gonna try to run this trail the next time I’m in NH. Love the shot of Great Turkey Pond opening up!