Northern Trail Walking: Enfield to Lebanon NH

We walked another 5-mile section of the Northern Rail Trail in Grafton County, NH, this past weekend, from “downtown” Enfield to the Ice House Road in Lebanon and back.


Had a bit of trouble finding the parking, but mainly because we are unfamiliar with Enfield. We parked by this red building, then as we began walking came upon some official rail trail parking.

whereweparkedinEnfieldredbuildingNRT28May2016 MunicipalRailTrailparkinglotsignEnfieldNRT28May2016

There was more to see than I expected — within a half-mile, we came upon a couple of morel mushrooms right by the trail! One was already molested, but the other stood tall. (Photo a bit blurry, sorry.)



As always, there were quite a lot of what some folks call weeds along the trail, but as usual, many are quite beautiful when you really look at their structure, colour, texture, patterns.

Dock, with lots of little jewelweed seedlings:


The non-native greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), whose sap can be quite irritating and quite bright yellow:celandinemassNRT28May2016

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), a very hardy vine: VirginiacreeperNRT28May2016

Red clover (Trifolium pratens), lovely in leaf and flower, and edible, particularly favoured in teas:

redcloverfoliageNRT28May2016 redcloverflowerNRT28May2016

A vetch of some sort (probably common, Vicia sativa, but we have six kinds in NH), usually found twisting its way around anything in its path in meadows, suburban gardens, and edge habitats like this one:vetchNRT28May2016

A grape vine … Someone on a Facebook plant forum thinks it’s Vitis riparia, River or Frost Grape, a native.


I had to get this one identified; apparently it’s a Nabalus (rattlesnake root), though which one is unclear:NabalusRattlesnakeRootNRT28May2016

Reddish stem:


You see these Canada mayflowers (Maianthemum canadens) everywhere in the NH woods — until you don’t:


These sarsaparillas are common, too, though I’ve noticed that only about one in ten has flowers (shown with red clover foliage); I can’t tell whether it’s Wild (Aralia nudicaulis) or Bristly (Aralia hispida).


The leaves are non-descript, but the flowers look a bit like sweetgum balls:


There are a number of small-yellow-flowered wildflowers along NH trails and in woods. This one is called winter rocket or garden yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris):BarbareaVulgarisWinterRocketNRT28May2016

Some bloodroot foliage was still visible; these bloomed over a month ago here:bloodrootfoliageNRT28May2016

Buttercups en masse:buttercupsNRT28May2016


Then there are shrubs and plants that many consider invasive, like Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), introduced from China in 1845, and Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) from Japan in 1860, which is considered invasive in southern New England and which often interbreeds with the Tatarian variety. There are also native, non-invasive varieties, like Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), but I believe these two photos are not that species (look to be Morrow’s honeysuckle):

honeysucklefernsNRT28May2016 pinkhoneysuckleNRT28May2016

This is autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), a gorgeous plant that smells heavenly when in bloom, is a nitrogen fixer, beloved of birds (when it fruits) and bees, and used to make jams, but it is considered invasive many places; note the greyness of the leaves:


Near the beginning and ending of our walk were stands of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), a particularly invasive plant here and elsewhere; the leaves are heart- or shield-shaped, the flowers are pretty and aromatic, the stalks are sturdy and hollow like bamboo, but boy does it spread; it’s been said to grow through 2″ of concrete:

knotweedstandNRT28May2016 knotweedleavesNRT28May2016


Some other interesting plants along the way:

Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum):


Some sort of sedum (stonecrop) or possibly a FALSE! Stonecrop (Phedimus spurius) — who knew?:


This is definitely a false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum); one way to differentiate it from a true thing (a Polygonatum) is that the false has a flower cluster on the end of the stem (and later a cluster of golden berries on the end), while the true has the flowers, and later dark berries, dangling on the underside of the stem, at the base of each leaf. In the photo, the flower cluster of one false Solomon’s seal is resting on the leaves of another:falseSolomonsSealbNRT28May2016

This is sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), so called because it browns and curls at the thought of a frost:


Had to get this one identified by the good people on Facebook; it’s pink corydalis (Capnoides sempervirens)


This is sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina), which I find noxious smelling but apparently I am in the minority. The catkins are the male flowers (female flowers are much smaller and round or oval).


Behold, the fringed polygala (Polygala paucifolia)! Also called gaywings and fringed milkwort. It can also appear in a white and a blue form, neither of which I’ve seen.


A double flowered columbine; there was a stand of pink and white flowered plants near Ice House Road:doublefloweredpinkcolumbineflowerNRT28May2016

More of the same:doublefloweredpinkcolumbineplantNRT28May2016

A sweet little mullein plant (probably Verbascum thapsus) enjoying some shade under the bench (not that it needs it — it seems to grow in any conditions and the flower can be 6 feet tall):mulleinunderbenchNRT28May2016

Veronica (aka speedwell) growing in the parking lot:



Really enjoyed on this hot day walking on the trail between rock ledge that had been blasted:

stonewalltrailshadelightcurveNRT28May2016 birchtreerootsgrowingfromstonewallNRT28May2016 stonewallbestNRT28May2016


And seeing these cuties, chipmunk and some kind of skipper butterfly on a sumac:

chipmunkNRT28May2016 skipperbutterflymaybeonsumacNRT28May2016


Finally, a few views of the lake, trail, and other trail sightings. Hope you enjoyed the walk!



Art inside a tunnel:artinsidetunnelNRT28May2016 woodensignEnfieldNRT28May2016 boardedupRValongtrailrearviewNRT28May2016 bridgesslatsNRT28May2016

Rope swing!:ropeswingMascomaLakeNRT28May2016

Saw a great blue heron here, twice, but it flew each time:pondhouseNRT28May2016

Mile markers, with distance on one side to White River Junction, VT, and on the other to Boston, MA:milemarkerWRJ10NRT28May2016

Boulder etched with the date 1893 and other things I can’t read:engravedstone1893NRT28May2016

Mascoma Lake on a hot day:MascomaLakeviewNRT28May2016


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