Hikes and Nature

Hike and Cookout at Spoonwood Pond Dam

by on February 9, 2018 in Hikes and Nature, Home Page
These Pictures are from 2018 hike.
Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 10:30 am
Join the Nelson Trail Committee for a leisurely walk across the ice of Nubanusit Lake, through the isthmus of Louis Cabot Preserve, across pristine Spoonwood Pond to the 1859 vintage 12’ high and 280’ long dam & spillway. For 111 years, that water impoundment, in addition to the Nubanusit Lake impoundment beginning in 1861, provided most of the energy to power Harrisville’s woolen mills until 1970.
At the dam, the Trail Committee will host a free cookout and provide hot dogs, chips and hot chocolate. Depending on conditions, bring ice walkers (such as STABILicers or Yaktrax), boots, snowshoes or cross country skis  – your choice. As of January 27, only ice walkers are appropriate. There is no snow on the lakes.
Round trip: 4 miles. Total elevation gain: 0 feet. Meet at Dave Birchenough’s (827-3552) at 162 Nubanusit Road, Nelson  on February 3 at 10:30 AM. We should be back by 2:30 PM. Families and pets are welcome.
If you plan to participate, and have not previously signed up, please click this link to sign up. That will help us plan for the cookout. If weather causes a cancellation or postponement, we will notify you by email – if you’ve signed up.
Looking northeast at Nubanusit Lake from the Spoonwood Pond Dam

Great Meadow Paddle and more…..

 by Dave Birchenough

Saturday August 22nd, a brave cadre of eleven paddle-hikers went deep into Nelson’s Great Meadow wilderness to conquer Nubanusit Creek, tested their skills against beaver construction projects and learned all about flora and fauna from Al Stoops, our intrepid resident wildlife biologist. 

Weather was a challenge. Kidding! It was a perfect day – 75º, sunny with just enough clouds for shade when we needed it and plenty of extra water to slide right over those beaver dams. A few adventurers even triumphed by going over the final six-foot high dam. Don’t miss next year’s paddle-hike. These photos are from another Great Meadow paddle – everyone on Saturday was smart to not bring a camera.

Last week Maury Collins and I rebuilt the main Murdough Hill Meander bridge by eliminating the upstream hand rail to provide more walking space. For safety, we decided to reconstruct the upstream bottom foot rail and moved all the decking to create more tread width. It feels nice and roomy now. The millstone remnants are more impressive every time I see them. Next we plan to improve access to the trail by building a small gravel parking lot at the trailhead on Granite Lake Road.

A workday is planned September 12th at 1PM on a new trail near the Village on land conserved by the Conservation Commission some years ago. The trail will explore the old stone dam built to support Asa Wilson’s sawmill in the nineteenth century and the beautiful brook that runs through the property. Anyone interested in helping with the project is welcome to join us. We’ll be breaking in our new tools acquired with the help of the Nelson Conservation Commission and a grant from the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership. You’ll find the work party just off Log Cabin Road behind Bert Wingerson’s house.

Granite Lake Association Lake Host Program

by on April 15, 2015 in Hikes and Nature, Home Page, Promote

granite lake2Are you interested in volunteering some of your time to become a Lake Host at the Granite Lake Boat Ramp this summer? Our Association has a fantastic group of volunteers who give of their time to sit at the boat ramp and do courtesy boat inspections for the New Hampshire Lake Association. Volunteers have been giving of their time since 2002 and have made a significant contribution to their community. Some of the volunteers don’t even live on the lake, but realize what a beautiful resource the lake is to our town. Becoming a volunteer is easy, a morning of your time to become trained in identifying invasive aquatic species and courtesy boat inspection procedures and you are on your way to becoming a member of a very important group. Sitting at the boat ramp, meeting new and interesting people who share a love of lake are just some of the things you will enjoy during your time as a lake host. Time spent at the boat ramp depends on how much you feel comfortable with, an hour or two is very much appreciated.

We also have some paid lake host opportunities. If you know a young person, 16 years or older who you think would be a reliable individual please have them call me. They would need to be willing to work on the weekends and provide their own transportation.

If you would like more information please call me at 847-3082.

Anita Flanagan

Managing Lake Host Point Person

Black Bear Happenings in NH

by on March 2, 2015 in Hikes and Nature, Home Page, Promote


at the Nelson Library

March 7th at 11am

Join us for an interesting and informational program on black bears.  Our speaker will be Mike Morrison ( he did bobcats in February).  All programs at the library are free and open to the public.  please call 847-3214 or email library@townof nelson.com for more information.

Spoonwood Hike: date change

by on February 12, 2015 in Hikes and Nature, Home Page


News Alert:

The first hike exploring Spoonwood Pond that was to be held this Saturday has been postponed until March 29th due to the weather forecast for this weekend.

All of the information; time, etc., is the same as it would have been on Saturday – only the date has been changed.

“Join the Nelson Trail Committee for a leisurely walk across the ice of Nubanusit Lake, through the isthmus of Louis Cabot Preserve, across pristine Spoonwood Pond to its 1859 vintage 12′ high x 280′ long dam & spillway and back. Round trip: 4 miles. Total elevation gain: 0 feet. Depending on conditions, bring ice walkers (such as STABILicers or Yaktrax), boots, snowshoes or cross country skis  – your choice.

Bring a bag lunch. Hot chocolate will be freely provided.

Meet at Dave Birchenough’s at 162 Nubanusit Road, Nelson at 11 AM. We should be back by 1:30 PM.”


Understanding Bobcats in NH

by on January 31, 2015 in Hikes and Nature, Home Page

The Library in Nelson Presents

Understanding Bobcats in New Hampshire

Saturday, February 7th , 2015 at 11am

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Fish and Wildlife Stewards are volunteers trained to present public presentations aimed at increasing public awareness of the federal Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration programs and the important Fish and Game projects they fund.The presentation includes information about the natural history of the animal, research takingplace, how the information learned will affect management for that species, and background onthe Wildlife Restoration Program that has made the work possible.

For more information call 847-3214 or email the library@townofnelson.com

Kulish Ledges Hike

by on March 27, 2014 in Hikes and Nature
Al Stoops hands out goodies at the East Pinnacle

Al Stoops hands out goodies at the East Pinnacle

March 1: Nelson’s own naturalist, Al Stoops, led a Harris Center sponsored hike up the Trail Group’s newly cut Kulish Ledges Trail. With temperatures not much above 10 degrees, thirteen people from Nelson, Hancock, Francistown and Peterborough donned snowshoes for the inaugural hike. The snow was deep, but hardened by freezing and thawing, supported us well. A light dusting of powder on top showed many tracks which Al helped us identify: grey squirrels, mice, snowshoe hares and at least one bobcat. We saw places porcupines snacked on some hemlocks and woodpeckers had torn up old snags in search of insects.

The Bailey Brook Bridge in the snow.

The Bailey Brook Bridge in the snow.
Several hikers expressed their admiration for the bridge’s design. One noted that the hand rails were high enough to be useful with 18”of snow on the bridge.

Several hikers commented that the trail was well sited and all marveled at the view from the East Pinnacle: Spoonwood Pond and Lake Nubanusit with Crotched Mountain and North Pack Monadnock on the horizon. Hikers advanced several new theories about the purpose of the Barstow cast iron cook stove (circa 1890) seen along the way. Some favorites: a hunting camp, a logging camp, a cabin housing men cutting firewood for the long winters.

Eric Masterson, Land Protection Specialist at the Harris Center, graciously thanked the Nelson Trails Group for the nice job making the trail. Al Stoops and I were pleased to accept the praise on behalf of the fifteen volunteers who worked so hard to make this 1.5 mile trail available for all to enjoy.

Take a Hike

by on February 22, 2014 in Hikes and Nature, Life in Nelson, Recreation

Join members of the Nelson Trail Group on three hikes exploring some of the beauty of our town.

trails committee workdays 023

Members of the Nelson Trails Committee pose on a newly constructed bridge in this photo from last summer.

Saturday, March 1, 9:00 AM – Kulish Ledge Inaugural Hike – Harris Center hike led by Al Stoops. Meet at Bailey Brook trailhead near #611 Old Stoddard Road. Hike ends by 2 PM. This is the first organized hike on the trail built last year by the Nelson Trail Group. Hikers will enjoy the beautiful views from the ledges on the north side of Osgood Hill. There should be plenty of winter tracks to interpret. Bring snowshoes and a lunch

Saturday, March 8, 10 AM – Tolman Pond Hike – Exploratory hike led by Dave Patek and Tom Murray. Meet at Dave Patek’s high field on Cabot Road just uphill from the junction with Merriconn Road. (not the field on the corner of Tolman Pond Road.) Join the Nelson Trail Group as we explore possible routes for a new trail around Tolman Pond. The brook draining the pond falls through a rocky gorge that should feature beautiful ice formations this season. This hike will be about two hours. Bring snow shoes.

Sunday, April 13, 1:00 PM – Cellar Holes of Nelson – Another hike sponsored by The Harris Center hike led by Rick Church. Explore six cellar holes on the abandoned portion of Log Cabin Road. Most date to 1780. Meet in the Village. Back by 4 PM.

People interested in joining the Nelson Trail group should contact Rick Church at

603- 847-3206

Hiking Across the Watershed

by on January 26, 2014 in Hikes and Nature

Trail-Committee-Jan-18,-201 Trail-Committee-Hike-Jan.-1It was a snowy morning, but 14 hardy Nelsonites turned out Saturday, January 18, to follow Dave Patek on a Nelson Trail Committee hike on the highlands above Tolman Pond.  We hiked through fields across the watershed between the Connecticut and Merrimack Rivers. The views were snowed out, but spirits were high and a good time was had by all.

(from Linda Cates)

Two Weekends of Work and Fun

by on October 24, 2013 in Hikes and Nature, Home Page

Nelson TrailsThe Nelson Trails committee has been busy over  two recent weekends, building bridges and improving trails for your walking pleasure.   September 21 dawned cool and comfortable: a perfect day to put in a bridge over Bailey Brook in order to begin trail work on the new trail to Kulish Ledges.  Dave Birchenough had designed the bridge and pre-cut all the materials, and the crew of Dave Birchenough, Dave Patek, Tom Murray, Rick Church, Maury Collins, and Maury’s friend, Elk, were raring to go.  The hardest part of the project was getting the telephone pole stringers in place, but apparently, it went perfectly, with the stringers falling into place like legos.  By the time I arrived to do some trail clearing at 2 pm, the stringers were in place and almost completely bolted down.

An hour later, when I returned, the decking was down.  The crew was really moving along!  In addition to the bridge building team, Al Stoops, Anita and Harry Flanagan, and Linda Cates helped out with trail clearing above the beaver dam and pond.  A good day’s work.  Two days later, the bridge crew returned to install the railing and the steps.  The bridge is complete and offers a beautiful way to safely cross Bailey Brook.  Continue Reading »

Inaugural Hike on Murdough Hill Meander

by on November 14, 2012 in Hikes and Nature, Recreation

by Kathy Schillemat

Murdough Hill Hike

Harry Flanagan tells the group of hikers the story of the bobcat and the goose.

Saturday, November 10 was a warm November morning.  Folks assembled in Duane and Kathy Schillemat’s driveway to begin the first official hike on the Murdough Hill Meander.  Young and old gathered, including two families who have just moved into the area.  Al Stoops took a count—twenty people!  After a brief introduction, Kathy led the group into the woods.  The hikers stopped at the site of a mill, which Rick Church said had been a grist mill and a saw mill in the early 19th century.  Half of the massive mill stone lay in the raceway of the mill, broken, Rick believes, when the mill was destroyed by fire.

The group moved away from the mill site and followed the stream which flows out of Granite Lake into a wetland abutting Granite Lake Road.  Continue Reading »

Nelson Trails Update

by Rich Church (May 12, 2012)

The Nelson Trails Committee is working to add two to four new trails this year. The two most active projects are on Cobb Hill and in Munsonville.

Pair of Canada Geese

Pair of Canada Geese

At 1900’, Cobb Hill is one of the area’s highest points. It is flanked by two old roads that join Nelson and Harrisville which run on the east and west sides of the hill. The Harris Center already maintains the Jane Greene Trail that comes up from Hancock to a lookout on the east side of the hill with a beautiful view of Mount Monadnock.  We hope to extend the Jane Greene Trail so hikers from all three towns can enjoy visiting the lookout and the high bush blueberries growing on the windy summit and loop back to their starting point.  Further work with the landowners must be complete before a trail can actually be laid out. The trails committees of Nelson and

Eric Sandberg spots proud parents with 5 goslings

Eric Sandberg spots proud parents with 5 goslings

Harrisville are co-operating with the Harris Center for Conservation Education on the project.

Further along is the development of a trail that explores the wetland across Granite Lake Road from the Nelson School.  This opportunity offers a visit to an old gristmill site and bird habitat long of interest to the Audubon Society.  The trail will be laid out so as to afford opportunities to enjoy this important piece of habitat without intruding unnecessarily on bird life.  Troy Tucker has already started to clear the portion of the trail that runs through his property. Kathy and

Julia Lennon and Kathy Schillemat spot spring flowers

Julia Lennon and Kathy Schillemat spot spring flowers

Duane Schillemat have generously offered their driveway as the access point.

The Committee has been learning about trail making from the experts. Tom Duston, chair of the Chesterfield Conservation Commission, has spoken to the group and recently spent a rainy morning walking Cobb hill to share tips on good trail layout and construction.  He’s produced a six-page guide on the subject to help inform our work.  On May 12th, committee members Susan Hansel, Julia Lennon, Kathy Schillemat, Eric Sandberg and I walked the Audubon Society’s Cove Trail at the Sucker Brook Sanctuary to observe good trail making practices in wetland bird habitat.  The views of Mount Monadnock over Silver Lake were beautiful. A pair of Canada Geese announced their landing in the cove with loud honking. Another pair paddled by with their five youngsters.  A plethora of  wildflowers including numerous painted trilliums graced the side of the path.

Painted Trillium

Painted Trillium

I can recommend the Sucker Brook Sanctuary for anyone wanting a comfortable walk through hemlock groves, past boulder strewn landscapes and rock outcrops with beautiful forest flowers, water foul and song birds to add to your enjoyment. Parking is on Breed Pond Road. Directions and a trail guide can be downloaded from New Hampshire Audubon .

Bailey Brook Trail

The Nelson Trails Committee sponsored a hike recently with the Harris Center to the Bailey Brook Trail. The hike drew more than 30 people on a clear and cold Saturday, February 11th.  It was led by Rick Church, of our trails committee, and Ben Haubrich, a Harris Center guide. Meade Cadot, senior naturalist at the Harris Center and Martha Pinello, an archaeologist from Monadnock Archaeological Consulting, were along to explain the natural and cultural items of interest.

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Hikers gathered at the Nelson Common and carpooled to Maury Collin’s.  The group walked up and over the hill behind Maury’s house, the area of a new conservation easement and looked across the valley toward Osgood Hill and more land protected by the Harris Center.  The hike followed a logging road back to the Old Stoddard Road where we turned east. Meade Cadot pointed out black bear markings on most of the telephone poles along the road. These are territorial markings.  Most of the poles showed teeth marks and one had bear hair imbedded in the pole itself.

Continue Reading »

A Hike Up Rollstone Mountain

Editor’s Note: Rollstone Mountain was also the inspiration for a contra dance tune written by Ralph Page. It was recorded in 1975 by Rodney Miller (fiddle), Randy Miller (piano) and Peter O’Brien (harmonica), on one of the first local recordings of dance tunes: “Castles in the Air“. It was arranged for the Nelson Town Band to play in the town’s musical history, The Hotel Nelson, in 1997, and the band continues to include it in their repertoire. You can hear the original recording by clicking on the link below.

by Al Stoops

Three inches of fresh snow greeted us Nelsonites that morning, two days before Christmas. Our weekly Monday hike was on Friday this week, and we looked forward to exploring the extreme northeast corner of town. We hoped to check out some rumored trails around Rollstone Mountain, an intriguing area on USGS maps and Google-Earth satellite views. Rollstone Mountain and Holt Hill make up the uplands in the extreme northeast of Nelson. Strangely, the hill is higher than the mountain. Years ago Sue and I had followed a bobcat here, along logs and across walls, round feline tracks in powder.

Four of us carpooled from the village, skidding up slippery Old Stoddard Rd, barely squeezing by the Hayes wrecker parked mid-street on the straight uphill stretch of road past the town barns. The car on the flatbed was an indication of the driving conditions. So was the greasy road itself.

Two sections of Nelson’s town lines cross Rye Pond: a north-south section of the border abuts Antrim to the east. North of the east-west line sits Stoddard. It’s a wild area—most who drive NH 123 between Hancock village and South Stoddard spend less than a minute in Nelson, but a disproportionate percentage of the town’s moose collisions likely happen in those few rods. We parked on the shoulder and heading into the woods of Antrim. Continue Reading »

Nelson Trails Explores Cobb Hill

by on December 5, 2011 in Hikes and Nature, Recreation
cobb hill explorers

Nelson and Harrisville Trails Committees and friends at the David Marshal home site.

The Nelson Trails Committee is exploring Cobb Hill on the line between Nelson and Harrisville with the hope of laying out a network of trails. Several ancient roads and a Harris Center trail provide a good starting point.  There are a number of early cellar holes in what was originally the southeast corner of Nelson. There should be circular walking routes available from both towns. The Harrisville and Nelson Trails Committees are working jointly on the project.

The committees have walked the territory on two separate hikes covering about five miles in the process. Sunday, December 4th saw thirteen committee members and friends from both towns assemble at the end of Nelson’s Nubanusit Road for an afternoon’s exploration of Cobb Hill. The temperatures were in the forties; there was a brisk, cold wind on the high ridge and a skim of ice on some of the puddles in the road. Continue Reading »

Nelson Celebrates It’s First Official Walking Trail

Jeanette Baker aka Jaybird

The Trails Committee of Moving in Step and the Conservation Commission celebrated the opening of our first walking trail.

The event featured a talk by Jeanette Baker on her Appalachian Trail Hike last year. The following afternoon was a walk on the Old Road to Dublin, oldest documented road in Nelson.

The Trails Committee has been working to layout and mark trails for the people in Nelson to be able to walk and appreciate the natural and cultural richness of our town. Detailed trail guides and maps will be available for these walks. The Old Road to Dublin is the first trail to be completed by the committee. Continue Reading »

Off the Beaten Path

The Great Meadow, June 13, 2011
by Kathy Schillemat

“Express the heart too full to speak in one exultant hymn.”

Sometimes, words are wholly inadequate to describe the experience or the feelings of a day.  Such was the case with our adventure on the Great Meadow which flows over the border between Nelson and Harrisville.

Al Stoops and I set out in the morning from the outlet of Nubanusit Lake behind Dave Birchenough’s house.    We explored the upstream channels before going with the downstream flow.  In the shallows, we found numerous cone-shaped “nets,” made apparently from some gelatinous material and coated with silt.  These seemed to be some means of catching small aquatic creatures, but we could not look closely at the structures as they flattened out into silty slime when we attempted to take them out of the water.  Our first mystery of the day: what creatures create these “nets” and what is their intended prey? Continue Reading »