Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Woodbury Nature Sanctuary


The 160 Woodbury Nature Sanctuary is a peaceful plot of hilly ground and mixed hardwood forest nestled on the boarder of Litchfield and Monmouth, across Whippoorwill Road from Woodbury Pond. The Stanton Bird Club owns and maintains the property and trails, having been deeded the land in 1929 by descendants of the Woodbury family. Nearly four miles of trails traverse the property, accessing spots of interest, including the original Woodbury family cemetery, two small hilltops, a vernal pool and a view of Mud Pond at the west corner of the property.

Getting There
From downtown Gardiner, take Highland Avenue (High St.) west about 7.3 miles to Hardscrabble (Cobboseecontee?) Road. Turn right, then take and immediate left onto Whippoorwill Road. In 1.8 miles turn right onto Pease Hill Road (the road is unmarked, but is almost directly across from LeBlanc Road on the Left). The Sanctuary is on the immediate left, with room for one or two cars to park in front of the wide metal gate. A sign straight ahead marks the beginning of the Blue and White Trails; the Yellow Trail begins across Pease Hill Road. Maps are available in a box a short way up the trail.

The Trails
Three trails provide access to the Sanctuary, with the White and Blue Trails intersecting to allow for a variety of loop options.

White Trail and Barbara's Loop
Distance: 2.1 miles (round-trip)
Difficulty: Moderate
Time needed: 1.5-2 hours

The White Trail is the most extensive of the Sanctuary's three trails, providing access to the far north and west corners of the property. It is a narrow dirt and leaf litter track, winding under the canopy of second-growth hardwoods and hemlock trees. From the parking area, head into the woods at the sign marking the trailhead. The trail heads uphill a short distance to the intersection with the Blue Trail North. Maps are available here in a black mailbox. Continue straight, climbing uphill gradually through a forest on mixed maple, beech and oak trees, passing a left fork to Blue Trail South. The trail levels off in a hemlock grove, with a vernal pool on the right. From here the trail begins to head downhill, crosses the Blue Trail again, and continues down through a dark hemlock and birch woods. The trail comes to a fork where Barbara's Loop, named in memory of Barbara Tatham Johnson, Sanctuary Steward from 1991-2005, begins. Taking a right at the fork, the trail continues downhill and gets steeper. As it approaches a low, wet area, the trail curves to the left, paralleling the low area. Mud Pond becomes visible through the trees and the trail levels out and begins to climb again, continuing to angle to the left. The trail climbs more steeply as it approaches the fork at the beginning of the loop. From here turn right and return to the parking area along the White Trail.

Blue Trail
Distance: 1.9 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Time Needed: 1-2 hours

From the parking area, follow the White Trail a short distance to the intersection with the Blue Trail. Here maps are available in a black mailbox. A right turn leads to Blue Trail North (0.46 miles). Continue straight on the White Trail to a left fork to Blue Trail South (0.63 miles). Turning left onto Blue Trail South, the trail climbs uphill under a canopy of American beech and oak trees. The trail is a narrow track of mossy dirt and rocks, often dipping under low-hanging beech leaves, giving it a very earthy, enchanted feel. The trail passes a big oak tree and levels out, with a view of the stone wall marking the property boundary on the left before heading downhill through a hemlock grove, along a ravine on the left. The trail crosses a small stream on a small stone bridge, climbs up again and then down stone steps near a large granite outcropping, continuing through the hemlock grove to the intersection with the White Trail. From here hikers can continue straight ahead to complete the Blue Loop, turn right to shorten their hike a bit by cutting back on the White Trail, or take a left and complete Barbara's Loop as well.

Heading straight across the intersection to Blue Trail North, the trail heads uphill for a short distance before leveling off and curving around the shoulder of a small hilltop. A large stone wall marking the northeast boundary of the property is visible downhill to the left. The trail begins a gradual descent through an area thick with ferns, the trail dotted with large, sparkly rocks, to the intersection with the White Trail. From here a left turn takes you back to the parking area.

The Yellow Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Time needed: 1/2-1 hour

The Yellow Trail begins directly across Pease Hill Road from the parking area/gate. The trail enters the woods among large pine trees and mixed hardwood. A short distance in it crosses a small stream on a stone bridge and climbs uphill slightly to the Woodbury family cemetery. Just beyond the cemetery, the trail forks. The right fork follows a narrow dirt path under a canopy of white birch, maple and pine. The trail comes upon a stone wall overlooking a stream down below. A log bench a the base of a large oak tree affords hikers a resting spot and a view of the singing stream. The trail follows the stream a short distance and forks again. The left fork (yellow dots) connects to the other half of the loop, following along the stone wall above the stream—don't miss this lovely shortcut. The right fork heads down to the stream, crosses it on a series of large rocks and climbs uphill. The understory of the forest here becomes thicker with young pine, looping near Whippoorwill Road (the road is not visible from the trail) and crosses back over the stream on stepping stones. The trail forks again; the left fork is the far end of the yellow-dot cutoff, with another resting bench at this terminus. The right fork continues through a young beech and birch woods, with more sapling pine understory. Large mossy stumps attest to the grand old trees that once resided here. The trail follows close along Pease Hill Road before returning to the cemetery and back down to the trailhead.
Kid-Friendly Factor
The Woodbury Nature Sanctuary is a wonderful place to take children—the mossy logs, sparkly rocks and mushrooms all provide plenty of fodder for imaginary homes for fairies and gnomes. The trail lengths are manageable for short legs, particularly the Yellow and Blue Trails and the White Trail intersecting the Blue offers an opportunity to bail if the kids become tired or cranky. My kids found plenty of trees and rocks to climb and enjoyed trekking ahead through the dark and mysterious forest. The trails are too narrow and bumpy to be strollerable, but they're short enough to make it a pleasant hike while carrying a little one in a front carrier or backpack.

Getting Involved
Contact the Stanton Bird Club for information about club meetings, natural history programs or to become a member.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tyler Pond Wildlife Management Area


Tyler Pond Wildlife Management Area is a 128-acre parcel of land manged by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on the border of Augusta and Manchester. Although the route to the pond, along a wide and rutted ATV trail most of the way, is less than picturesque, Tyler Pond, a small kettle pond, completely undeveloped along the shoreline and clear down to the gravel bottom, offers a worthwhile destination.

Getting There
Take Civic Center Drive north from Augusta. From the light at the I-95 on-ramp, continue north 3.1 miles and turn left onto Summerhaven Road. Tyler Pond Wildlife Management Area is on the left in about 0.8 miles, marked by a brown WMA sign and blue boat launch sign. If you can squeeze your car past a couple of sizable puddles, there is a spacious parking area just inside on the left.

The Trail
Distance: about ½ mile (one-way)
Difficulty: moderate
Time Needed: ½ hour

From the parking area, follow a wide, rutted dirt road into a forest of tall oak, pine and birch. Although the road is pocked with several large, deep puddles, there is ample room to go around the edges and stay high and dry. A few hundred feet along, the trail forks. The left fork is the ATV trail; the right leads to Tyler Pond. After the fork, the trail becomes a bit narrower and cozier, though it becomes severely eroded as it travels downhill. This road-like bit of trail ends in an open, level area, with a non-motorized trail continuing in the woods and downhill a short distance to the pond. A small carry-in boat launch is on the left. The trail continues along a lovely, wide hump of land that juts into the pond. The top of the hump is fairly level and open in the understory and carpeted in pine needles, offering a delightful picnic spot. A narrow, unmarked trail heads to the right and follows along the shore of the pond a few hundred feet before petering out.

Kid-Friendly Factor
Tyler Pond Wildlife Management Area is a great place to hike with kids—a short walk that even the shortest of legs should be able to handle (and if all else fails, it's not far to carry little ones), with a great destination. Ponds are always a big attraction for little ones who inevitable want to throw in sticks or rocks, and the wide, open finger of land offers plenty of opportunity for safe but exciting exploration.

Getting Involved
Contact the Manchester Conservation Commission for volunteer opportunities at Tyler Pond.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

West Gardiner Nature Trail

West Gardiner

The West Gardiner Nature Trail provides access to a parcel of land owned by the town of West Gardiner. The trail was built as part of an Eagle Scout project in 1995 by Boy Scout Troop 615. The scouts continue to enhance and maintain the trails.

Getting There
From Gardiner, take High Street/Highland Avenue 5.3 miles. Turn left onto Spears Corner Road (across from Townhouse Road). The trail begins on the right side of the road 0.2 miles down, just beyond the West Gardiner Town Office, across from the playground of the Helen Thompson School. A large sign marking the trailhead is visible from the road. There is room to park along side the road. Maps of the area are available in the town office.

The Trails
Total time needed: 1-2 hours

Eagle Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate

From the sign, the trail heads into a forest of pine, fir on a wide dirt path. It crosses a small stream over a length of blue pipe, traveling through a wet area a short distance before rising uphill to drier ground through a pine and fir forest. A right fork leads to Camp Dirt, an open area with a fire pit. Staying to the left, the Eagle trail climbs uphill gradually through a pine and poplar forest, crossing planks trhough a wet area. The trail crosses a stone wall, angles left and comes to a T intersection with a wider, more road-like trail. A right turn leads to the West Gardiner Transfer Station, while a left continues on the Eagle Trail, across a powerline corridor and into a dark forest of mixed hardwood, fir and pine. The trail is fairly level, though it passes through some wet areas that appear quite well-used by ATVs. The trail comes to a left fork leading to the ATV trailhead, while straight continues on the Eagle Trail. Another left fork leads to Cat Camp, a fire ring with a log bench tucked into the woods. A little farther along Eagle Trail ends at a four-way intersection. A right turn leads to Porcupine Trail, a left to Snake hill, topped with a covered shelter 100 or so paces into the woods, and a privy just downhill, and straight ahead is the Bog Trail.

Bog Trail
Distance: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: moderate

From the four-way intersection at the terminus of Eagle Trail, the Bog Trail heads downhill toward the Beaver Bog at the southwest corner of the property. As the trail approaches the bog, a left fork leads a short distance along the bog's edge in the woods before dead-ending. Turning right at the fork the Bog Trail crosses a wooden bridge, climbs uphill through the dark pine woods and out onto the pipeline corridor. The trail follows the corridor about 100 yards to the intersection with the Porcupine Trail on the right.

Porcupine Trail
Distance: 0.2 miles
Difficulty: moderate

The Porcupine Trail connects the two ends of the Bog Trail, forming a loop. From the far end of the Bog Trail, along the pipeline corridor, the Porcupine Trail goes right into the woods, traveling downhill though a hemlock grove, across a small stream on a wooden bridge, then uphill again to the four-way intersection with Bog Trail, Eagle Trail and the spur to Snake Hill.

Kid-Friendly Factor
The deep dark woods along the West Gardiner Nature Trail as well as the various side spurs to points of interest can make this trail a thrilling adventure for older kids, and the full distance should be easily managed by the eight and older crowd. The trails are wide and level, with plenty of room for walking side-by-side with little ones, and not a lot of up-and-down climbing. Though not difficult, the trail does not offer options for looping back to the trailhead if smaller legs grow tired partway through.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Smithfield Plantation


The Smithfield Plantation is a peaceful preserve of 103 acres, owned by the town of Litchfield and maintained by the Smithfield Plantation Trust. Two loop trails wind their way through the lovely mixed hardwood forest, dominated by American beech and accented with numerous stunningly large multi-topped white pines. Most of the trail is far enough from the road noise of Route 126 to provide hikers a chance to quietly commune with the birds and trees.

Getting There
From downtown Gardiner, take Route 126 east west {correction 6/28/10} about 9.3 miles. Turn left at the blinking light by the Country Store, onto the Hallowell Road. Follow the Hallowell Road about 1.5 miles; turn right onto the Libby Road and follow it approximately one mile. A small parking area on left with a large white and green sign and a kiosk marks the Smithfield Plantation trailhead.

The Trails
Both trails begin to the left of the sign. The trails are well-marked with yellow blazes and appear incredibly well-maintained, with sturdy bridges over all of the streams and wet areas, a couple of benches for resting, and even a picnic area with tables and an outhouse partway around the main trail.

The Main Loop
Distance: approximately 2-3 miles (loop)

(Note: Although this trail is labeled as being one mile long, I believe it is at least twice that).
Difficulty: moderate
Time needed: 1+ hours

From the parking lot, head into the woods under a pleasing canopy of birch and beech trees. A short distance in, a small interpretive sign gives a short history of Litchfield. As the trail approaches a pipeline corridor, the Vernal Pool trail forks off to the left. Continue straight across the corridor and into the woods. The trail comes to a small picnic area, with an outhouse, two picnic tables and a small amphitheater, with rows of benches climbing the hill above a podium. From here the trail heads down to a wet area crossed by a series of bog bridges. After two more water crossings on sturdy wooden bridges, near which two amazingly large pines grow, the trail climbs uphill again, angling to the left. Near the top of the rise, a bench provides a resting spot, and another interpretive sign shows images of some of the wildlife to be found in the forest.
The trail heads downhill to another bridge crossing a small stream. Just before the bridge a spur trail heads off to the right to overlook the bog. This spur travels a couple hundred yards to an arm of land extending to the edge of a large wetland filled with cattails. A bench here allows for quiet contemplation of view (during the non-buggy seasons!). Back on the main trail, the trail crosses the stream and travels between two small hills and crosses another bridge. The other end of the Vernal Pool Trail joins the main trail from the left. The trail crosses one more small bridge, and heads to the parking area.

The Vernal Pool Trail
Distance: approximately ½ mile
Difficulty: moderate
Time needed: ½ hour

To take the Vernal Pool Trail, begin on the main trail, to the left of the sing. Just before the main trail crosses a pipeline corridor, the Vernal Pool Trail begins on the left. The trail follows a large old stone wall for a couple hundred yards. The angles uphill to the right, while the trail continues downhill and to the left, with its namesake vernal pool straight ahead and a blue bench overlooking the seasonal pool. The trail re-joins the main loop after a short distance.

Kid-Friendly Factor
The narrow, bumpy trail is unsuitable for strollers, but the trail is a good distance for little hikers, although when I took my four-year-olds on both the main loop and the Vernal Pond loop, they began to protest. Try the shorter Vernal Pond Trail with younger hikers, and the longer main loop for more experienced kids. The great big pine trees invited my kids to try climbing every one, and one magnificent beech with a flying buttress coming off one side and a big hollow hole in it was pure magic.

Getting Involved
Contact the Town of Litchfield for volunteer information.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Annie Sturgis Wildflower Sanctuary


The Annie Sturgis Wildflower Sanctuary is a 40-acre parcel of land along the Kennebec River owned by the New England Wildflower Society (www.newfs.org). Two loop trails wend their way through pine, hemlock and mixed hardwood forests, travel along and cross over a small, winding stream and even climb Mount Tom, a small hill at the heart of the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is noted for its stands of wild ginger, rare in Maine. The Sanctuary is open April 1 through October 1, dawn until dusk. Dogs and other pets are not allowed.

Getting There
From the Cony Rotary, head north on Bangor Street (Riverside Drive/ Route 201). After crossing the Vassalboro town line, continue north about 1.7 miles and turn left on the Webber Pond Road. Turn right at the stop sign, onto Cushnoc Road, and go north about 0.4 miles. The Wildflower Sanctuary is on your left, marked by a wooden sign that is somewhat hidden by trees. Park alongside the road.

The Trails
Total Distance: about 2 ½ miles (loops)
Difficulty: moderate-difficult
Time needed: 1-1 ½ hours

A large sign nailed to a tree laying out the rules of the Sanctuary marks the beginning of the trail. Go around the tree to the right, and follow the wide, grassy lane between two rows of pines and mixed hardwoods (there is a fair amount of poison ivy along this part of the trail, particularly near the beginning). The trails are marked by small metal disks labeled “New England Wildflower Society” nailed to the trees. The trail heads downhill somewhat between two farms. As it approaches a hay meadow straight ahead, the trail turns to the left and into the woods. Down a steep hill, the trail comes to an old, dilapidated bridge, with a path down into the drainage alongside the bridge to the left (this was easily crossed in dry weather; in spring or after a heavy rain it may be a different story). The trail heads back uphill and comes to a fork in the road, marked by a wooden box. The right fork leads to the Ginger Trail and Mount Tom and the left fork leads to the River Trail.

The Ginger Trail and Mount Tom
Distance: ¾ mile loop
Difficulty: moderate-difficult
Time needed: 20-30 minutes
From the sign-in box, take the right fork and follow the narrow track of pine-needle covered dirt uphill to another fork in the road, the left arrow points to Mount Tom, the right to the Ginger Trail (just before this intersection on the left, somewhat hidden by trees, another arrow points to the other end of the River trail). Mount Tom is a short hike up to the top of a small hill, where grand old stone chimney marks the location of a log cabin built here by the Sturgis family. Just beyond the chimney a bench offers a spot of rest and a view (though shrouded in trees) of the Kennebec River. The Ginger Trail heads down hill to another damaged bridge, again climbing down into and out of the stream bed on a trail along the bridge. The trail continues uphill and around through the woods, looping around once more to the out bridge and uphill to the fork.

The River Loop Trail
Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: moderate
Time needed: 20-30 minutes
Just below the fork in the road marking Mount Tom to the left and the Ginger Trail to the right, the River Loop heads off to the left (as you're facing uphill), following along the right bank of a stream for a distance, before crossing it on sand bars and climbing up out of the drainage, doubling back along the stream on the opposite bank. The trail follows the stream, with a fence on the right side, for a distance before coming to a fork. A right turn takes you out to the railroad tracks and steeply down to the Kennebec. The left fork leads back to the sign-in box and from there back to Cushnoc Road along the initial trail.

Kid-Friendly Factor
The Sanctuary makes a nice hike for older (seven or eight-year-old) kids, long enough to be a bit of a challenge, but not overwhelming. My four-year-olds managed, but it involved a lot of coaxing (on my part), whining (on theirs) and the ever-present lollipop bribes. The trail is definitely not stroller-accessible. The climb up Mount Tom, with the old chimney and resting bench offers a bit of a fun destination.

Getting Involved
Contact the New England Wildflower Society for opportunities to donate to or volunteer for the Sanctuary.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vassalboro Wildlife Habitat


The Vassalboro Wildlife Habitat encompasses 285 acres of land owned and managed by the Kennebec Land Trust. A one-mile loop trail travels through the portion of the conservation area on the east side of he Webber Pond Road, following along the shore of Webber Pond. On the west side of the road, a short trail leads down to a cattail marsh. The remainder of the conservation area is set aside for wildlife habitat.

Getting There
From Cony Rotary in Augusta, head north on Riverside Drive (Bangor Street) to Vassalboro. After crossing the Vassalboro town line, continue 1.7 miles and turn right on the Webber Pond Road. Follow the Webber Pond Road 2.8 miles to a small parking area on the right. A Kennebec Land Trust sign marks the trail head. The sign shows a map of the trail and the preserve, but paper maps are not available; however the trail is well-marked and easy to follow (Brochure with map available here).

The Trails
Distance: Approximately 1 mile
Time needed: 30-45 minutes
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

From the parking area, the trail heads into a wooded area of tall pumpkin pines. White blazes on numerous tree trunks mark the path. The trail is overall level and wide, with some gradual hills. After heavy rains it's very wet in areas. The trail comes out of the woods under a powerline corridor, crosses a small bridge and splits in a T. Take a left turn along the broad grassy path. Orange surveyor's tape in the trees mark's the trail; turn right into the pine woods where the tape markings end. The trail heads down to the lake and follows the shoreline. The trail fades into the woods a bit at this point, but bright surveyor's tape marks the way (presumably the path of a trail still to be built). Cozy picnic areas with log chairs have been laid out along the shoreline. After following the shoreline for some distance, the trail angles right, back into the woods and re-joins the powerline corridor. Turn right and continue back to the bridge and from there back to the parking area.

Kid-Friendly Factor
The Vassalboro Wildlife Area trail is a well-marked, fairly easy trail that is ideal for kids of all ages, with the added bonus of the lake provides a fun destination. Although wide and fairly level, the trail is quite muddy and would probably not work well for a stroller, but babies in packs and older kids with sturdy legs will enjoy the hike, especially if you go late in the season when the mosquitoes have calmed down and the trail may be a bit drier.

Getting Involved
Contact the Kennebec Land Trust for membership and volunteer opportunity information.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Allen-Whitney Memorial Forest


The Allen-Whitney Memorial Forest is a 708-acre plot of land owned and managed by the New England Forestry Foundation. A network of trails provides access to the forest for non-motorized uses, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and horseback riding. The trails are clearly intended more for winter use than summer; they are fairly overgrown with vegetation and the blazes are few and far between in some areas. However, the forest provides a peaceful and shady hike through varied terrain and vegetation types, with birds singing in the canopy above and wildflowers growing all along the trails. It is worth a bit of bushwhacking to experience the beauty of the forest.

Getting There
Take route 202 (Western Avenue) west into Manchester. Turn right on Route 17 and go 1.6 miles. Just past Lakeside Orchards, turn right onto the Worthing Road, follow it to the end (about 1 mile) and turn right onto Scribner Hill Road. Park at the Manchester Meeting House, about 0.2 miles down the road on your left.

The Trails
All of the trails begin at the kiosk at the back end of the parking area. There are no maps available at the kiosk, but you can download a map of the trail network from the Manchester town website. Unfortunately the map is not color-coded to match the trail blazes and not all of the cross-trails appear on the map. However with a little careful attention to the blazes and a willingness to get a little turned around, it's not too difficult to navigate the trails. In general, the red trail is marked as 1 on the map; the blue trail is 2, 3 and 4 and the orange trail is 5.

Whitney Way
Red Blazes
Distance: About 2 miles (loop and backtrack)
Difficulty: Moderate-difficult
Time needed: 1-2 hours (including return trip)

From the kiosk head straight into the woods along a wide, grassy road. In a few dozen yards, the trail T's, with a red arrow pointing left (a right turn leads back down to Scribner Hill south of the Meeting House). Follow the red trail left, uphill through a pine and mixed hardwood forest. The trail here appears to be an old road, overgrown with grass and plants. The trail crests a hill and a blue arrow points left where Allen's Trace begins. Continue straight downhill, passing another left fork marked with an orange arrow (Lion's Leap). The trail travels through a wet area and takes a left turn uphill (look for double red blazes). The trail continues uphill following a narrow path. After passing a granite ledge on the left, the trail angles left and uphill, becoming very indistinct. At a stone wall, the trail crosses an old road and gets somewhat lost in the woods, looping up and downhill before returning to the road. To avoid this confusion, turn left onto the road and follow it until the red blazes resume. The road curves left and steeply uphill before heading back downhill. The blue trail forks right and straight ahead and the red blazes end. Follow the blue trail straight ahead for a short distance and the red trail resumes to the left, uphill and traverses Allen hill along a snowmobile trail. At a T intersection, turn right and follow the red trail back down to the parking area.

Allen's Trace
Blue Blazes
Distance: About 2 ½ miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

From the kiosk head straight into the woods along a wide, grassy road. In a few dozen yards, the trail T's, with a red arrow pointing left (a right turn leads back down to Scribner Hill south of the Meeting House). Follow the red trail left, uphill through a pine and mixed hardwood forest. The trail here appears to be an old road, overgrown with grass and plants. At the crest of a hill turn left at the blue arrow. The trail moves uphill through a stand of tall, straight red pines. The trail is fairly indistinct, with tall ferns growing in it. The trail crosses an old road and enters a mixed hardwood forest with some very large old maples. After the second large tree on the right, turn right at the blue arrow, and climb a hill through more red pines. There's not much of a trail here, just widely spaced blue blazes and weedy ground.

The trail moves into a denser stand of trees and comes to a T intersection, both directions marked with blue arrows. Turn left here (a right turn will lead toward Lion's Leap and the east side of the Whitney Way loop and can be followed in reverse of these directions) onto an old road. The trail crosses a snowmobile trail and heads gradually downhill into another pine stand before heading more steeply down into a denser mixed hardwood forest. The trail curves toward the left, opens into a wider tote road and comes to another blue arrow pointing right (Scribner Hill Road is visible to the the left). Turn right, following a snowmobile trail 100 yards or so to a tree in the middle of the road marked with a blue arrow pointing left. Turn left and follow an old road over level ground through beech and maple woods. The trail passes numerous spots that look like side trails—ignore these.

The trail comes to an intersection with a small trail entering from the left; follow the blue arrow right and pass through a wet area on the trail. Cross a small stream on good-sized rocks and climb uphill. The trail crosses another stone wall, levels out and passes some large hemlock and pine trees, following a seasonal stream bed on the right. The trail crosses another stone wall and meets a snowmobile trail, turning right at the blue arrow. The trail through here is quite eroded and wet, clearly becoming a stream during spring runoff and heavy rainfall. The trail turns left, climbs uphill and comes to another T intersection, with red to the left and blue to the right. Follow the blue trail downhill to a junction with a snowmobile trail with a red arrow again to the left. Go right here and almost immediately turn left at the blue blazes, heading downhill and left again at another blue arrow. The trail becomes narrow and weedy again and passes through an area of very low-hanging trees. The trail comes to a T intersection again; turn left and head downhill. At a fork in the trail, an orange arrow points left (to Lion's Leap) and a blue arrow points right. Following the blue trail a few yards downhill, the trail forks again, with the left (straight) fork returning to the parking area, the right heading back up the blue loop.

Lion's Leap
Orange Blazes
Distance: about 1/8 mile (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Time needed: 15 minutes (plus time to hike in from the trail head)

Lion's Trace is a short connector trail that links Whitney Way and Allen's Trace Trails. To access Lion's Leap, follow Allen's Trace (the blue trail, above) to a fork marked by an orange arrow pointing right. From here, head downhill along a trail abloom with lily of the valley and red columbine (in early June) under a tall hardwood canopy and past a large old oak tree. The trail is marked alternately with orange blazes and orange surveyor's tape. It is also a narrow dirt track, unlike the other two trails which mostly follow old road beds. The trail curves left, crosses an old stone wall and heads downhill very steeply, leveling out in a hemlock grove where it meets Whitney Way at a T intersection marked with red arrows both ways. A left turn climbs Allen Hill and a right turn leads back down to the parking area.

Kid-Friendly Factor
I took my four-year-olds on Whitney Way and they were both very put out by the “pokeys”--the vegetation covering much of the trail, as well as the distance. They're both strong hikers, but without diversions such as streams or ponds for throwing rocks into or big boulders to climb and jump off, it was just drudgery to them. Older children might appreciate the subtleties of the deep woods and quiet bird song more, but I know I enjoyed it much more when I went back and hiked Allen's Trace and Lion's Leap without small children.

Getting Involved
To find out how you can get involved in maintaining the trail network at Allen-Whitney Memorial Forest, contact the Manchester Conservation Commission.
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