Friday, February 18, 2011

Newfield Wildlife Management Area & Abbott Mt. 2/17/11

"Warmly Greeted by the Abbott" (pictures)

Google Map
 Thursday was to see a dramatic rise in temperature and I planned to take advantage of some warm sunshine! I had planned on trying to find the trail head for Copple Crown Mt. in New Durham. I awoke earlier than usual to give myself enough time. I got a pot of coffee going, munched down on some fresh pineapple, packed up and headed out. I followed the directions in the AMC Southern NH Trail Guide. I came to the road that was supposed to be Mountain Rd. but the actual road was called Moose Mountain Rd. The pavement came to an end at 1.5 miles as the book says and a snow bank blocked the two access roads. There were "No Trespassing" signs and a house but a "No Littering" sign gave clues that this was a public access area. I still didn't feel comfortable parking here and venturing on what would be a long hike. I didn't have my heavy winter gear or emergency kit with me and I just didn't feel good about this one today. (Little did I know there is a Mountain Rd. that also enters the Moose Mountain area off of Kings Highway. I will have to explore this next time! There is also private access off Copple Crown Village Rd.)

I jumped on Google Maps on my Droid phone to try and find somewhere to go. I wanted to do something different and there are a few spots that showed up in green on the maps. One was 30 minutes away in Shapleigh, Maine called Newfields Wildlife Management Area (NWMA) and was adjacent to the Abbott Mt. Range. Perhaps I would get lucky and climb a mountain after all! I took the back roads to Mann Rd. It was pretty secluded all the way which was promising! Gray Rd. was unplowed so I continued on to Granny Kent Pond Rd. where my GPS was pointing to for the NWMA "location". Suddenly I found myself in a very crowded and overdeveloped Rd. I hate how they ever allowed this on our beautiful ponds! Thinking I wasn't going to get lucky on this trip either I slowly passed a town/association maintenance garage and out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye just as I was passing noticed a trail! I backed up into the parking area and verified that it was indeed a snow shoe trail.....Woooh-Whoooo!

Threw my bag and snow shoes on and started up the banking and up the trail. "Oh crap!" Forgot to lock the truck! Headed back to the banking and hit the button until I heard my ride "beep". Back to it now, temps. were a balmy mid. 50's and the sun was shining brightly. The packed trail was a bit soft from this wonderful weather and I was glad to have snow shoes! The trail climbs slightly and then appeared to loop over the 600 foot hill in the middle of the Management area. The sight of mountains ahead of me and a packed trail heading in that direction had me continuing on. The trail slightly drops off a rocky banking and passes through a beautiful conifer forest made up of mostly pitch pines. Past a pink boundary line you cross Gray Rd. which is apparently a snow mobile trail in winter, continue through the woods and soon cross another snow mobile trail.

Soon the trail climbs slightly passing a small brook and takes a sharp right before a large boulder. It was here the packed trail ended. Ahead lay a filled in trail which appeared to be an old woods road. Looks like I will be getting some work done today! I began breaking trail up a moderate climb. Stopping occasionally to take a breather and take in the new surroundings. I passed by a large snow shoe hare trail which was something to see. As I leveled out near the ridge top a heavily traveled herd path zigzagged through the woods in front of and around me. I was nervous at first thinking it was moose. I thought of how know one knew where I was, Scott would think I was on Copple Crown and what if a moose trampled me or something! But upon closer inspection the trail looked to be deer tracks. The scat and snow burrows confirmed this. I felt better now knowing it was only deer!

I continued along the ridge getting partial views through the trees of the surrounding hills and pond. Near the top of the ridge I lost the trail all together, not able to make out a definite way. I would take my phone out now and then to check my google map location and followed my progress up the cool is technology!! I then saw several snow "humps" through the trees that looked like ledges. Ahhh, the beauty of winter hiking, you can easily see through the trees and hey....if you don't know where your going you can always follow your foot steps back!

I arrived at the ledges or rock outcrops and found the highest of the three. Upon checking my map again I was smack dab on the highest point of this particular ridge at about 860 feet! I swigged down my O.N.E. Acai juice I was dying to open. It was a delicious, sweet/tart treat! This is one drink that will snap you back out of the twilight zone believe me! After a pic I determined it was too late to continue on to Abbott Mt. which was still some distance away and well, I had lost a viable trail. Happy with the days progress and discovery I made my way back down following my steps. I broke off occasionally to check out the various knoll areas looking for a clearing with no such luck. I did find a nice tree to climb and climbed 30 feet or so to get a more clear shot of the surrounding terrain.

Once back down and back into the NWMA boundary I decided to take the loop. I passed by a nice rock formation and climbed to where the trail descends again. I broke trail to the ridge top that I could see through the trees. Hoping to find that clear view I was looking for, but again was disappointed! Ah well, another high point reached (600 feet) I was ready to get back to solid ground. Once back on the road I found Abbott Mountain Rd. and driving to the end showed evidence that this was a trail. A snow mobile trail currently but also looked to be a hiking trail. Guess I will have to try this way next time!

A pretty productive day. Didn't hit a mountain top or get a fantastic view but the weather was super and I discovered a new hiking area which is ultimately what this blog is all about.....discovering unmarked or unknown hiking/walking areas. Total trip was around 3 miles, 390 ft. elevation, 2 hours
Despite the minuscule numbers this hike was tough snow shoeing in soft snow and my calf's are SORE! Was a good work out!


  1. Jason,

    Nice commentary about the Abbott mt area. I've never been there but it looks very pretty. I have however been to Copple Crown via Moose Mt Road. This time of year you have to park at the top near the red house if there is room without blocking the driveway. If not you will have to park along the road down the hill near Moose mt recreation area. You can get to the trail via either of those roads you saw but the one to the right is shorter. Go in until you get to the snowmobile trail on the right. Go up that trail for a mile and a half or so and you will see the trail head on the left. It is a long walk this way but if you go in from the Middleton side you have to cross private property and that is discouraged. The directional views up there are nice and be sure to go to the second view point to the left near the summit.



  2. It looks pretty now, wait till spring and fall! Thanks for sharing pics and commentary on the area. I love to see different areas of the country.