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 Cedar Swamp Preserve - Manchester 
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
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Location: Exeter, NH
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 Cedar Swamp Preserve - Manchester
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The weather forecast when I went to bed said only 10% cloudcover this morning, so I thought I'd get up and catch a sunrise down the beach. I awoke however to a thick fog bank covering everything in sight. Figuring it would be worse on the coast and my only hope of seeing more than 20 feet was to head inland I decided to shoot over to Manchester and check out a place I've wanted to for a while but haven't had a good enough reason to yet.

Another of the Nature Conservancy's properties that I've kept on the to-do list too long, and had Hiking Lady not informed us that the wild rhododendrons are late bloomers it would have stayed that way for a while yet, but needing to head inland or at least do a woods hike without views to begin with this seemed perfect, so off I went to see one of New Hampshires most significant ecological areas. .

Finding the trailhead was easy. It's two turns off of exit 10 on 1-93 and well marked with a large sign/kiosk. It was still foggy but it didn't really matter now and I started out on the trail, which is actually a big main loop with two spur loops off of it for a total of 1.8 miles that pass through a wide variety of uncommon natural communites (I stole that right off the NHDFL website :D ) The Woodland loop works it's way through a typical pine/maple/birch forest with a larger than normal amount of boulders. Moderately hilly with some ups and downs and very well blazed the trail was pleasant but uneventful.

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After maybe 10 minutes I came to the the first major attraction of the preserve. The Cedar loop branches off to a small cove of the 42 acre Atlantic white cedar/Giant rhododendron swamp, which is apparently very rare. There are less than 10 in New England and this is the only one north of Massachusetts. This section of trail, which has maybe 100 yards of bog bridges, also is home to rare black gum trees, which are New Englands oldest trees, living up to 450 years. Frogs hopped off the bridges quicker than I could get their pictures and it also has mosquitos galore, so if you go grab some bug spray, something I almost always forget and wind up paying the price in blood. I would have liked to see more of the swamp but this section gave a nice glimpse of what the other 41.5 acres must look like.

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After completing that loop it was off to the Rhododendron loop, which starts going downhill quickly. I was jogging to make up a little time and came around a blind corner and 10 feet away was a good sized deer! I don't know who was more startled, but he bounded off into the bushes about 30 feet and started snorting. I minded my own business and continued along the trail. I didn't get a picture off in time of the deer but if I had it would have looked a lot like this file photo! :D

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From there the trail crossed a shady little fern filled area in a hemlock forest where there was clearly, from the sound of it, a lot of water running just under the forest floor that eventually emerged into a swampy areaAfter that the trail continued to the small bridge that crosses Millstone creek, which was flowing pretty good with all the recent rain and without the bridge probably wasn't crossable today without getting knee deep.

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Shortly after that you come to the wild giant rhododendrom thickets. They were indeed giant and still in bloom. Thickets 15 - 20 feet high filled the woods around this little section of trail. There were a few buds that hadn't popped yet but for the most part the flowers were out and the bees were buzzing around. The flowers were mostly white with a little pink and yellow on them. Much different than the bright pink household variety. Maybe that's how you tell a wild one from the others that might have been bred to be pink. I'm no flower expert so I really have no idea but there were plenty of white flowers decorating the place and it was pretty neat to see.

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The trail followed a ridge which had a lot of these large thickets off to either side and passed the upper waters of Millstone brook along the way as well as more large boulders and/or erratics. I guess a geologist could tell if they mathced the bedrock or not. I'll just call them big boulders because my one geology class in college didn't teach me how to tell the difference.

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I followed the remaining part of the Woodland loop trail back to the parking lot, passing a beaver made swamp and a decent sized glacial erratic along the way. Nothing much more of note. No far reaching views but a nice foggy morning hike through a very ecologically rare, diverse and interesting area. Rather scenic in it's own little way, especially when the rhodies are blooming like they are now. Probably not a destination unless you really enjoy rare habitats and a variety of forest types but well worth the half hour drive for me. I'm sure I'll be back when I can spend a little more time and remember to bring some bug spray with me.

For more info on the place ou can click the link below to the Nature Conservancy site or the one below that to the NHDFL page.

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/newhampshire/placesweprotect/manchester-cedar-swamp-preserve.xml

http://www.nhdfl.org/events-tours-and-programs/visit-nh-biodiversity/manchester-cedar-swamp-preserve.aspx

And as always for a few more pictures click right here.

https://picasaweb.google.com/107457015580599787070/CedarSwampPreserve#


Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:33 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:40 pm
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Loved the flower close-ups! What a beautiful place! Please remember to check yourself for ticks!


Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:34 pm
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
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Location: Exeter, NH
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Beckie and Prema wrote:
Loved the flower close-ups! What a beautiful place! Please remember to check yourself for ticks!


Checked and double checked for ticks and nymphs ever since someone here mentioned that, but another tick free outing this time. Always a concern when I get out south of the Whites unfortunately, especially when I see deer.


Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:29 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:23 pm
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Location: Lakes Region, NH
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Beautiful! Maybe we can swing by on our way back from RSP tomorrow! Beautiful pics as always, looks like it was perfect weather for that! Thanx again GG! Never heard of it before!


Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:21 pm
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Location: Exeter, NH
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It would make a good "swing by" spot for anyone coming or going up I-93 looking for a little stretch. Probably better for that than a destination even. Maybe 5 minutes off the highway if that. Exit 10, south on the road there for maybe half a mile, right onto Hackett Hill road and then left shortly onto Countryside Blvd (which looks like a neighborhood). The trailhead is just up there on the left.


Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:53 am
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Mountaineer
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Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:23 pm
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Location: Holliston, MA
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Coming from Mass, I take that RT93 exit to avoid road work in Hooksett as we make our way across to RT16. This little hike looks like a perfect traffic stress relieve stop.

Thanks


Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:03 am
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Adept Ascender
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Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:44 am
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Location: Boston's North Shore
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Wicked cool, GG. Ive never been to a Nature Conservancy park. This one looks like one the kids will love. They go crazy for those sort of boardwalk stretches, especially when they're down low to the water like that.

Your pics are awesome. I love the way you caught the moving water.

Thanks for sharing.

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Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:50 am
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Peak Bagger
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Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:44 pm
Posts: 364
Location: Kensington, NH
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Are those deer flies and skeeters surrounding the deer or grass seeds and debris?

The deer flies looked pretty similar around my dog and felt similar around my head on our quick hike in the woods this morning.


Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:53 am
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
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Location: Exeter, NH
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I think that was just dew and debris, although the deer flies and skeeters were definitely out that morning.


Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:38 am
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