The Tom Rush Forest, in central Deering, was formed in 2002 when the popular singer Tom Rush sold several lots to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Tom Rush Forest is the largest conservation easement in Deering, comprising 300 acres of forest and meadows. Abutting the Rush Forest the SPNHF holds the conservation easement on 40 forested acres that are privately owned and called the Rush Farm Tract. Abutting the Rush Farm Tract, on the Deering Center Road, is the ‘Gregg Hill Lot,’ also known as ‘the library lot.’ This town-owned lot is, in part, the steep meadow that can be seen from Deering Center Road, to the left of the Carew House and essentially opposite the town garage. There are many possibilities for recreation, walking and winter sports. in the Tom Rush Forest and land that surrounds it.
Early in the 19th Century several families lived around what is now the Tom Rush Forest, on Gregg Hill Road, Tubbs Hill Road, and Old Rangeway Road and today’s forest was all meadow – – known in part as ‘East Meadow,’ and ‘Berry field.’ Large meadows inside the Tom Rush Forest have been maintained along the east side of Gregg Hill Road, and those meadows feature in a walk (shown in red on the map) of about 1/2 mile from the Town Common, on Deering Center Rd, to the Lachance residence at the top Gregg Hill Road. We call that walk the Tom Rush Meadow Walk.
Beginning at the gate across Old Rangeway Road, near the Town Common and the Deering, follow Old Rangeway Road uphill for a little less than 1/4 mile. From the top of the hill the trail leads left and immediately enters the first meadow. The way through the meadows is mown irregularly to make a more or less clear path for about 1/4 mile to return to Gregg Hill Rd. The last third of the walk passes through open forest.
The slope from the gate at Gregg Hill Road to the top of the hill is moderately steep and follows along a rutted dirt road. From the top of the hill the path through the meadows back to Gregg Hill Road is level easily traversed – – even with a perambulator. There are no vistas from the meadows.
The meadows harbor a nice diversity of flowers. When I walked it in early June a stunningly blue introduced Veronica, V. austriaca saw-leaved speed-well, was in bloom. There were a lot of blackberries and dewberry, a close relative of blackberry that scrambles along the ground. Dewberry fruits before blackberry. Its fruit look like fruit of blackberry and can be just as sweet. The dewberry plant is thorny/hairy, so the biggest challenge might to be in collecting the fruit without getting scratched. There were also pale violet fleabanes forming large colonies in the grass. Milkweed plants were conspicuous and I saw a monarch butterfly, which feeds exclusively on milkweed. I was very happy to see a lot of ash seedlings but not so happy to see a large colony of the invasive black swallow-wort (Cynanchium louisiae). I am sure there will be a succession of flowers through the season. At the edge of one of the meadows there is an impressive wonderfully branched red oak tree.
It is possible to park at the top of Gregg Hill Road but please remember that there is a private residence there. The owner has requested that people not park in the bays. Gregg Hill Road is a Class VI road and there is room to park on the side of the road beyond the residence. Please do not block Gregg Hill Road.
The Tom Rush Meadow Walk would make for a good trail for families. It is short, only 1/2 mile each direction, and you could post a car at each end. The trail is easy to follow; it is open and there is a diversity of things to see. With some effort you could push a perambulator along. It would be fun for winter’s snowshoeing or cross country skiing at least at the level top through the meadows.