We had a very busy weekend. We spent a lot of time meeting with landscapers to have some new walkways quoted, making a lawn care supply trip to Lowes and ultimately, working on the lawn most of the day, Sunday. However, we made a commitment to try to be active outside (more than just working in the yard) every weekend moving forward, so today after the lawn was aerated and fertilized, we decided to head over to the Wiggin Farm - Tuttle Swamp Conservation Area in Newmarket, NH. It's pretty close to where we live and we have driven by it so many times, but have never stopped to explore it. Today we did and it was worth the short amount of time to get over there and walk the loop.
There's a PDF file online which has some information on this conservation area as well as a map showing the conservation boundaries and the trails associated. It is 160 acres, with 25 of them being open field. Apparently, this land was slated for 22 house lots a few years back, but the Town of Newmarket purchased the land and saved the ecosystem to be enjoyed for many years to come.
Map at Kiosk
Bridge at Trailhead
The parking area is just off from Grant Road and can easily fit many cars. When we arrived, there were multiple people walking their dogs as well as people trail running. There is a nice sign at the beginning of the trail. There's also a kiosk with a map and information. We started up the trailhead, which was essentially a mowed, grass path heading east into a very large field. Jill and I were on foot, and the munchkin was in the Kelty child carrier on my back.
View from Near the Trailhead
Trees Across the Meadow
We had blue skies, which was great, but the temperature was a little cooler than we had expected. Since the grade was uphill, we warmed up quickly. At the field's highpoint, we came to a white bench and a small sign on the side of the trail which gave information on the farm birds that frequent the area. We found, as we continued up the trail, there were many of these signs with interesting facts regarding the insects, mammals (including moose, which I found strange because moose are rather rare this far south), amphibians and birds that lived in this habitat. At this first point where we paused, there was also an old piece of farm equipment, probably a horse drawn plow or something of that nature. I wondered if it was actually left behind on the property after the farm was abandoned or if it was placed there for decorative reasons.
First Bench on Trail
One of many signs explaining the animals that live in this ecosystem
Old farm equipment, possibly abandoned or placed for decoration
As we continued on, we passed by some foundations (for an old farm house or barn) and what I thought might be old dug well sites. On the east most side of the field, I noticed the historical stonewalls that made up the field boundaries, were well preserved and cleared out nicely.
Old foundations of possibly the farmhouse or barn that once stood on this property
Another picture of the meadow from the northeast corner
Trail heading into the woods
We finally circled back on the northern border of the field and headed west. It wasn't long before we saw that you could head into the woods on another trail if you desired. We obviously wanted to do this and headed into the forest. Right away, I noticed that we were in a small grove of cedar trees. Cedar trees are around this area, but are rare without a doubt! It was great to see so many of them and some were rather large too.
Some of the cedar trees we saw
Rocks and metal pieces at the base of a white birch tree in the woods, seemed very out of place
The trail lead us to a swamp area and a small pond. I've yet to find a name for the pond, but I imagine it does have one. I was surprised to see no signs of life, no turtles, no frogs, no birds, etc. Maybe it's just too early. The only signs of real life we saw (or rather heard) were song birds, which Lylah kept pointing out when they were singing.
Pond at the edge of the woods in Tuttle Swamp
Well maintained stonewalls
When we headed out of the woods and back into the meadow, we had a better view of the pond. I recall seeing trees in the background and noticing how nicely the colorful buds looked on the skyline. I tried my best to capture this color, but my camera didn't do a good job.
Colorful tree buds over the pond
Shot taken on the way out, moon is visible as it's late in the day.
We finally made it back to the original trail we had walked in on, which completed our loop. At that point, we took Lylah out and let her walk the last 100 yards or so to get her out of the pack. It was at that point we noticed Lylah did something she loves to do on our hikes. She threw a toy out of the pack at some point, which was unknown to us. So, I decided to do the loop one more time, double-time (and my hiking boots are not comfortable to run in!), to find her stuffed dolphin that her auntie bought her. She has ridden in the pack three times, and three times she has thrown her toys out and made us retrace our steps...but that is a post for a different day.
This conservation area is a great, quick walk. It's a great place to go for a family hike, do some trail running or walk your dog. It's pretty easy to find and is not far from any of the southeastern towns in New Hampshire. I plan on revisiting this conservation area soon to see if I can find any wildflowers this season. This was definitely a great place to end our busy weekend.