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 Sweet Trail/Durham Point (Durham to Newmarket) 
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 Sweet Trail/Durham Point (Durham to Newmarket)
Here's a report on the Sweet Trail which runs across Durham Point from the Longmarsh Preserve in Durham to the Lubberland Creek Preserve in Newmarket. Definitely a local hike and not much of a destination and probably of little interest to 99% of the people around here but if you're in the area and looking for a hike I think it's worth checking out. One of the longer trails around there if not the longest. I thought of dropping off a bike at the other end to ride back but decided to have my wife pick me up and give me a ride back to my car when I was finished. There's no loop so if you don't have a car spot, bike or ride it's 4.3 miles each way.

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The trail started off following what could only have been an old road at one point in time. It quickly gets to Long Marsh where there are views out to a gigantic beaver dam at the far end and trees filled with heron nests. I wandered around the shoreline and there seemed to be a trail that would go around the marsh itself (marked with yellow diamonds and arrows) but I didn't follow it. Turtles were hanging around sunning themselves but I didn't see any of the Blanding's turtles I have read are there, just painted turtles, I think.

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After that I got back on the trail. At one point I went down a side trail at a break in the wall that seemed like it used to mark a gate or driveway of some sort. Sure enough a little ways down that trail I came to an old cellar hole filled with junk and bottles and across the path in the brush were the rusting remains of an old car or truck. Pretty interesting I thought and worth the few minutes of exploration.

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Continuing on, maybe half a mile later, I looped around and popped out on the far shore of Long Marsh that I had been looking at before. That leads me to believe there's probably a shortcut that hugs the shore if you want to bypass that half mile but don't hold me to it. From there it goes through some rolling mixed hard and soft wood forests, with maybe 20 foot ups and downs along the way and passes a couple more beaver ponds.

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About two miles in, I'd guess, you come to an access point where you could start if you didn't want to hike the entire trail. There's a little garden of sorts with signs explaining the trail and what could have been if Aristotle Onassis had gotten his way and built the worlds largest oil refinery there in the 70's. After that brief stop the trail heads back into the woods past more, surprise surprise, beaver ponds until it joins a road for a 1/4 mile or so.

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Once it leaves the road it heads into more of a hardwood forest with larger swamps every half mile or so. One of them had some cool wood ducks that I had never seen before even though I guess they're pretty common. In between ponds there were some nice woods, a handful of erratics and the occasional rocky knoll. It was nice and dry this time of year and all the seasonal pools were dried up but where the muddy sections would have been there were bog bridges and stonework that would get you through it in mud season.

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Finally after climbing the backside of Jeffs Hill you can either take the spur trail to the very top of it or continue on the main trail, which I did since I had done most of the trail already. Figured I might as well do it from start to finish and check out the hill some other time. Once you wander down and pass one last large marsh you come to a couple cellar holes and shortly after Bay Road in Newmarket. You cross the road and continue another 1/4 mile or so down to Great Bay. At the end of the trail there's a little granite set of benches and a table dedicated to the Sweets for their conservation efforts to preserve the bay over the years. After enjoying the spot for a few minutes I walked it back to the Lubberland Creek Preserve trail head where I was to be picked up a few minutes later.

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That's about it for the trail. Scenic, easy and pleasant would be how I'd describe it. The trail one way as I've said was 4.3 miles, passed some nice ponds and marshes and meandered through some nice woodlands. Except for jeff's Hill there isn't much elevation change and except for a couple rocky knolls footing is usually either old dirt road/pathway or soft forest floor. The signs say it's a great trail for viewing wildlife, and I did see turtles, herons, wood ducks, geese, a woodpecker, a good sized snake (garter I believe) and hundreds of frogs. Nothing terribly exciting but I guess that counts as wildlife.

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I think in foliage season it would make a very scenic walk/hike as the ponds were mostly still and reflected nicely. I'm not sure I'd want to be in there during peak hunting season or mosquito season, but this time of year there were no issues and surprisingly only had one mosquito on me all day long.

For a few more pics if interested click here...

https://picasaweb.google.com/107457015580599787070/SweetTrail#slideshow/5791941638290652530


Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:51 am
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Awesome, thanks for the report. I'm planning on hiking this with my wife in the next few weeks...we'll probably just do a car-spot and make it a one-way hike, although I might do the round trip on my own some time. She loves going out for walks in the woods, just isn't crazy about the longer hikes with a lot of elevation gain that I like to do, so this is perfect, and local.

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Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:12 am
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AMAZING Pics GG, particularly of the one of the frog. Serious talent there. Those photographs make the hike so inviting!! cool stuff. Thanks for posting so refreshing to see a different trip report for a change!!


Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:35 pm
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hiking lady wrote:
AMAZING Pics GG, particularly of the one of the frog. Serious talent there. Those photographs make the hike so inviting!! cool stuff. Thanks for posting so refreshing to see a different trip report for a change!!



Coulndn't agree more. Awesome photos.


Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:37 pm
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Very nice ... those pictures could certainly be published!


Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:29 pm
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With only between 8:00 -- 3:30 to get out today and still winter conditions up north but feeling like spring here, I did this one today. Thought about posting a tr as I didn't remember seeing one, but searched and I knew if anybody had one, it would be Granite Guy! I figure the board doesn't need 2 threads for this little trail, so. . . .

My thoughts are generally similar. Despite being Spring, the trail really wasn't terribly wet, save a couple isolated spots. I was surprised (and a little disappointed) at how much snow and ice is still around. But the trail was nice, despite a complete lack of magnificent viewpoints. I was amazed at how constant the marsh/swamps/ponds were along the trail, it was everywhere you looked and around every corner. TONS of birds out on them, I took one picture with 18 geese (I know, not the most exotic). And although GG mentions Heron as being not exciting, I saw 2 (I think, 1 for SURE for sure) and that was awesome. I'm not from here and had never seen anything quite like it in the wild. Also a quick glimpse of a beaver before he vanished out of sight. Pretty cool in my world.

Took some pics, but couldn't capture the best wildlife, and as the bay was mostly overcast and all of the greenery was brown, GG's pics are much better and render mine not worth the effort.

Anyway, I found the views from/of the bay to be a bit disappointing and surely wouldn't have walked 4 1/2 or whatever for that, but a great spring "get out and walk a few miles" day, and for being in Durham and Newmarket it felt surprisingly isolated. By no means should anybody rush up from MA, but for those of us to whom it's local-ish, I found it a very nice day and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Curious if you read this GG (or anybody else), is there a particular spot on the bay that you find most attractive? Until today I'd never really been there, other than over 16 and eating at Newicks. Today I was here and also quickly to the GB Estuarine Research Reserve (fka Sandy Point I believe?). Does, for instance, Adams Point have more or better to offer?


Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:49 pm
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I'm surprised there's still snow and ice left in the woods there, as there isn't much at all where I live 15 minutes away. The herons are pretty cool to watch them stock their prey and I was actually planning to head back in a few weeks when the osprey that live in Long Marsh return for the summer and try to get some pictures of them. If you were at Sandy Point you were also two minutes away and right across the street basically from Stratham Hill Park which has a nice tower with great views of the bay and off to the mountains and a decent trail system too.

I liked the sweet trail for it's length and remoteness, as there's not a lot of that down south here, but I think Adams point is the most scenic and probably my favorite spot. So not more, but maybe better to offer. I guess it depends what you're looking for. It's right in between Great and Little Bays, was once an island and is still surrounded by water except for the causeway they built out to it. There are lots of nice views and the trail circles the perimeter of the point as well as criss-crossing the middle through some nice woods. It's much less remote, smaller and shorter than the Sweet Trail but you can probably get in a good 2+ miles if you redline the whole thing. It also has nice access points to the shore from up on the bluffs.

The Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge is also nice but not as scenic. You can get in a good 3 miles or so of trail there however. It is right across the bay from Adams Point but you access it through Pease Tradeport.

Adams Point from Stratham Hill. A trail circles that entire point.

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The trail often wanders through some nice woods right along the edge of the bay

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It's a nice place to catch a sunset too

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A few views from the trails

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I've had a few trip reports up on those too if you're interested. Maybe you want to skip them and be surprised but they're both worth the trip if you don't live too far away IMO.

Adams Point and Great Bay NWR

http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?t=5381

Just Adams Point

http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?t=5829[/img]


Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:17 pm
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Good, thank you as always. I'll make Adams Point a priority soon. Maybe can even bring the wife and kid along.


Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:03 pm
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Oh boy, that looks like a great place to bring the kids! Thanks so much for sharing. Your pics are awesome, as always. Seriously, wicked awesome.

Was it really that Springy there? I can't believe the turtles were out, sunning themselves.

I was just there a couple weeks ago, paddling. I think I should go back soon for a hike.

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Yeah, I know... the pic probably didn't some through. Whatever. Damned computer stuff. :D

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Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:36 pm
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That post is actually from September but Grindboy just went and gave it a bump. Not very springy yet from what he said but its coming soon. If the boys can do a 4 mile relatively flat trip it would be good for them to explore all that stuff though. But that's one way so you either need a car spot, a pick-up at the other end or it'll end up being 9 miles, although there are 2 access points along the way that can shorten it up.


Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:44 pm
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Grindboy wrote:
Good, thank you as always. I'll make Adams Point a priority soon. Maybe can even bring the wife and kid along.


No problem. Congrats on the kid. I remember you talking about it a little while back. How old?

I also saw you said you'd never been to Agamenticus. It's more of a mountain hike with great views from the viewscaped top if that's what you're after. The dragonfly loop in addition to the main summit makes a great loop. I've got a post on that around here somewhere also if you're at all interested in that. Most of the snow should be gone soon if not now and you'll beat the black flies and summer crowds if you're looking to stay local but still get in a good trip.


Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:51 pm
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Makes much more sense now. I asked because I saw turtles and open water in Connecticut a couple days ago, but absolutely nothing like that up here yet.

I love finding little pockets of Spring that are a couple weeks ahead of other places.

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Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:55 pm
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Ha ha -- here's what it looked like on Monday:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/80262268@N05/8614343697/" title="Pond3 by Ross Tieszen, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8125/8614343697_c13af20727_c.jpg" width="800" height="600" alt="Pond3"></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/80262268@N05/8615452086/" title="Pond6 by Ross Tieszen, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8243/8615452086_81363a5269_c.jpg" width="800" height="600" alt="Pond6"></a>

Admittedly that last one's cherry picked as the most ridiculous chunk of ice I could find and the first one's more legitimately representative. But not quite spring yet, unfortunately!

Yep GG, 11 year old boy. We've officially had him for about a month now, plus a big transition period before that so it feels like it's been much longer. Awesome kid though, he really is. And so life changed forever. TBD how much he changes hiking -- while he's still in school my wife can be home for him every-other week, so this coming Monday I can be out for as long and as far as I want. Wohoo! I'm pansy so I still want to stay low and minimal snow/ice though, but I'm thinking maybe Pisgah State Park? Or something else in the Monadnock region that's a longer drive to save the nearby spots for when time is a bigger issue? Or if there's enough melt-off, I'd LOVE a lowland trip to Kedron Flume, Ethan Pond, Shoal Pond, Thoreau Falls. . . but I'm guessing that will have to wait another couple of weeks. We'll see. Anyway, Adams Point could even be cherry picked on a beautiful evening it seems to me. And Agamenticus I have pegged as a Sunday afternoon (never free until close to 1 on Sundays) trip, with the fam or solo either way. Heh, I also just ordered the AMC "Nature Walks Along the Seacoast" or whatever book you've mentioned for $.01 on amazon. So who knows how many more places I'll feel like I need to get to.

Eh, that was rambly. Gosh, I have basically no non-internet friends to talk hiking with!


Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:32 pm
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Congratulations on the new kid! Adams Point should be a nice spot to visit with the family.

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Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:04 am
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Did you ever grab that new camera you were after GB? Pictures look great. Put up a few more if you get a chance, I'd like to see more what it looks like at the moment.

Between the hiking and the new family member it sounds like you'll get your moneys worth out of the camera if you got it, or can justify the cost of getting one if you haven't yet! :wink: As you said, life has changed. I've found much of what was old becomes new and exciting again when sharing it with kids. Hope all the changes are for the better!


Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:20 am
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