The three trails/hikes in this report. Adams Point is in blue, Ferry Way in green and Peverly Pond is the pink one.
For starters, I do realize BobC already posted a report on the Adams Point State Wildlife Refuge earlier today so I won't bother telling you about the bay itself. He's described it perfectly so if you want to know more about it you should check out his post. But since I was already working on the pictures for this report I'll add a "little"
to what he said and throw up a "few"
pictures of my own if anyone is interested, just really bored, or wants something to read with their coffee right now. I also realize most hikes on here are in the mountains, and that's probably what people are most interested in. If we had a "local hikes" section I'd post it there, but we don't so here's a trip report from a little local hike down here in southeast NH.
Since we weren't able to get up north for a hike this past weekend because of soccer practice and a birthday party I decided to do a few small hikes close to home with the family. Saturday was a perfect last weekend of summer around the NH seacoast area. Both afternoons were in the 70's and sunshine was plentiful. A little breeze kept things refreshing and I definitely wanted to get the family out to enjoy it. All we had to do was figure out where to go.
Not wanting to spend more than 25 or 30 minutes of the day driving we weighed our options. The immediate coast is usually cooler and windier than just a few miles inland so we ruled out Odiorne. We figured any of the local "mountains" also would be pretty cool and breezy on top so Agamenticus and Pawtuckaway were out. Stratham hill is always nice but it's only about 30 minutes round trip, even with the kids walking, plus we've done it a handful of times this year so until the leaves change we ruled that one out too. The Exeter Town Forest has nice trails but can be buggy at times so it too was crossed off the list. That pretty much left us with New Hampshire's hidden coast, Great Bay.
There are a number of trails along Great Bay that range from short boardwalks to long meandering trails through the woods. There's a newly completed trail called the Sweet Trail that the Nature Conservancy just opened up at the Lubberland Creek Preserve I'd really like to see but it's 4 miles long and a one way ticket unless you wand an equally long road walk or stash a bike at one end, but with the kids it would require a car spot. Car spotting for an afternoon walk seemed like a bit much, plus I'd like to scout it out myself first anyhow to make sure it's not too buggy or hard to follow or anything like that, and since I've only done the old section off Bay Road before we were finally down to two choices. The Adams Point State Wildlife Refuge and the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I had never been to the GBNWR before and decided to save that for another afternoon when there were no time constraints, which ended up being Sunday, and we finally ended up at Adams Point.
I hadn't been here in years except to watch the air show across the bay last summer so I didn't remember exactly what it was like. The trail if you go clockwise like we did starts off with a hard packed mown path through the fields and quickly gets to the viewpoints along the bay itself. The first one had a couple interesting benches if you wanted to sit and relax, one of which looks across the narrow strait that connects Little and Great Bays.
From there the trail follows the perimeter of the point, keeping the water to your left and the fields to your right. Birds, flowers, bees, frogs and butterflies were a few of the things the kids checked out as we strolled along. There were also a bunch of spots along the way where you could scramble down to the water, and we stopped at one of them to skip and throw some rocks. I don't know if it was slate or what exactly, but it cracked in thin little pieces that sounded like glass when it was moved around. Surprisingly we even found some sea glass (or would that be bay glass??) which is another little past time of ours with the kids. My oldest was thrilled when she made that find.
We moved on and as you start to turn to the right you enter the wooded area of the point, which still has the trail running along the edge but climbs a little higher, so for the next half mile or so you were 10-20 feet up on the edge of some bluffs and cliffs overlooking the water and the little Footman Islands that fascinated me for some reason.
As it continues wandering through some nice forest that go back and forth between evergreens and hardwoods you pass a handful of rock outcrops/cliffs jutting out from the trees for unobstructed views. The highest of these was probably 30 feet or so above the bay and looked right out over the islands with Stratham Hill on the opposite shore. That was probably my favorite spot on the entire hike. My wife liked the next one with a big oak tree, but both were great little spots to soak it in for a bit and let the kids throw some rocks into the water below.
After that it continues to slowly turn right along the edge of the point and provides views across the cove where Crommett Creek flows into the bay, eventually getting back to water level at the edge of a small grassy marsh area. You walk through that and then out onto a little dead end peninsula with some tall skinny pines, trace your steps back to the main trail and walk through some young woods until you meet the road near the boat access ramp.
We went down there to check out a little shipwreck you drive by on the way in. we threw some rocks at it and skipped a few more before finally following the trail along the rest of the point through a nice open section of pines with Little Bay off to the left. We ended up back at the UNH labs where we'd parked to begin the hike but we weren't done yet!
In the middle of the point is the Adams family tomb, and right near that is a huge oak tree, I think, that had a big rope swing hanging from one of it's branches. We walked out to it, maybe 1/4 mile or so, but when we got there the kids were disappointed to find the broken ropes dangling from the tree and the swing itself sitting on the ground. "who would break that swing daddy?" my oldest wanted to know. I tried to explain the ropes just rotted and if we told someone maybe they could fix it for another time. Next time I'll keep that stuff a secret until we're actually there. We then took a few more steps and visited the tomb and obelisk that sits on top of it as the memorial to the family that once lived on and farmed the point, all the way back to "Reformation" John, who was the first name on there, born in the 1700's and presumably the first settler on the point. After that we called it a day.
That whole hike probably took just a little longer than it did to read this report on it.
Maybe a mile and a half including the side trips to the tomb and boat ramp and we did it all including numerous stops in about 3 hours.
Next up on Sunday after a party a Chuck E. Cheese's, , rather than watch the Pats suck it up, we figured since it was so nice out and we were literally minutes away from it we might as well go do the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge trails. We headed over to the trade port and followed the signs for about three miles. Along the way we saw a mother and half a dozen toddler turkeys on the side of the road. I tried to chase them into the woods for a picture but had no luck. Those things are pretty quick when the paparazzi is chasing them! After that failure we arrived at the lot where they have restrooms, a kiosk with information and some very nice brochures with maps in them. The refuge headquarters are there too but were closed.
We decided doing the short Peverly Pond trail first would be best. It was only half a mile and the entire trail is wheelchair accessible, meaning it is one half mile long elevated boardwalk through the woods and vernal pools out to a wildlife viewing blind at the pond and then it completes a big circle back to the car.
I'd say it was unique but there's another trail almost exactly like it at the Great Bay Discovery center in Stratham that we occasionally pair up with a hike up Stratham Hill, but it was still neat and the kids definitely liked it. They could just run free a little ahead of us with no real worries of falling on a rock or tripping on a root like you have on most other trails. The pond was a nice little spot, even though there was no wildlife to be found, and the woods were nice to stroll through with the sun filtering in through the trees. As you'd expect it was a very easy loop and made a nice little warm up for the next trail. My 19 month old walked the whole way herself and it took up probably half an hour for that loop.
After a snack we loaded the little one in the pack and crossed the road, following the perimeter of the old weapons storage facility from when Pease Air Force Base was still there. I should say still active, since much of it is still there and the runways are still there and used for the trade port. The Ferry Way Trail starts by following a rusting old chain link fence topped with rows of razor and barbed wire for about a quarter mile. Signs warn of no entry and inside the buildings and a water tower are rusting and crumbling away. I couldn't help but think of the report I read here on east Mountain in Vermont where the summit is a defunct military facility. I'd never heard of that and had never been here before, but within a week I knew about both. Weird.
After you leave that splendor behind the trail turns left at a fork and follows what was probably once a road of some kind past a small pond until it reaches an intersection with a wooden bridge. From here it's about mile and a half or so loop so you can either go straight or right. We opted to cross the bridge and follow the trail counter clockwise from there. First it goes through the edge of a field where some turkey vultures were circling and then into the woods. Once in the woods it has minor ups and downs and views Welch Cove and Little Bay start to peak through the trees. As it slowly turns left and makes it's way through some pleasant open woods the blue of the water gets closer and closer until you're right above the bay about 20 feet up on the edge of the embankment. The first viewpoint you come to is down a little spur trail and looks up Little Bay towards Newington.
From there it's an easy stroll along the bay, just inside the tree line and about 20 feet above the water, to the next couple of viewpoints. One of which looks across the strait directly at Adams Point and just a little farther along you come to the final view of the bay and the farthest point out on the trail. There's a large wooden viewing platform with some binoculars on a stand and you can see much of both bays from there. To the right Little Bay heads off towards Newington and eventually the ocean and to the left Great Bay stretches to the horizon.
I don't know if they ever had one here but it's not hard to imagine before bridges a ferry from this point over to Adams Point a few hundred yards away would make for a much quicker trip than going around the entire bay through Newington, Greenland, Stratham, Newfields and Newmarket. Maybe there were always bridges and maybe there never was a ferry here, but maybe that's how the trail got it's name. I really have no idea as it never said where the name came from. Whatever the case the trail from there goes through some mature forest with a lot of old stone walls, what looked like some cellar holes and some big pines with barbed wire grown into them. They all let you know this was once farmland even though now there are towering pines and hickory trees all over it. I think they were shagbark hickories but that's just a guess from stuff I've read and seen before. They looked pretty shaggy to me though.
After the oak-hickory forest section you come to the field where I think, based on the large shrubs and one out of place hemlock tree, there was probably a farmhouse at one time. There's an old apple orchard across the trail/road that actually had some apples hanging in the trees. if I had felt like risking lime disease I would had gone after a few but the grass and brush underneath looked like a haven for those things so we moved on, seeing a couple neat looking almost camouflaged frogs and some wild flowers before getting back to the trail junction at the bridge.
From there it's an easy few minutes back to the fenced area, where we could see some turkeys a ways out inside of it as we walked along it back to the parking lot. All in all we walked about 3 miles that day and it took us about 3 hours.
So there you have it. A long report from a couple of modest hikes. Nothing big or fancy like the White Mountains but for local hikes in southeast New Hampshire I was pretty impressed with them, especially the Adams Point one. I think it'll be a great hike in a few weeks when the leaves are changing and when the bald eagles return there this winter I'd like to go check them out also and see if I can spot them. Needless to say I liked it more than enough to go back and explore it some more and if you're in the are and looking for a little hike I'd highly recommend Adams Point and would also reccomend, just not quite as highly, the Ferry Way Trail. Peverly Pond is great with little kids, and if you're there anyhow it would probably take an adult 10 minutes or less, so maybe you'd do it anyhow just because, but there's nothing much to see on it.
Speaking of seeing, if you'd like to see more pictures from these trips you can click the link below.