Margaret Wood Memorial/Pinnacle Trail

 

The Margaret Wood Memorial is a 20 acre conservation easement in East Deering, at the top of Peter Wood Hill Rd.  The land is privately owned but the conservation easement on the Margaret Wood Memorial has been held by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests since 1970.

Margaret Wood was the wife of Peter Wood. In 1917 the Woods purchased a large farm on what is now Peter  Wood Hill where they raised cattle and grew potatoes. Part of this farm is now the Margaret Wood Memorial.

Margaret Wood was a founding member of the Deering Community Club. The members of Deering Community Club were originally all women. Among other good deeds, the women of the Club were responsible for arranging running water in Deering Town Hall in the mid 1920’s. Many men in town contributed their labor to this project. The men impressed the ladies of the Deering Community Club so much that in 1927 men were admitted to membership in the club.  Soon thereafter town hall was extended to what we know today.

Margaret and Peter Wood were grandparents of several generations of current and former Deering Residents including Tom Coppadis, the owner of  the land on which the Margaret Wood Memorial is found.

How to get there: Please contact me if you would like to download the Pinnacle Trail map. From the Hillsborough end of Deering Center Rd. (NH Rt 149) turn on to Clement Hill Rd. Follow Clement Hill until it turns sharply right (about 1.5 mi). North Rd continues straight at this point. Follow North Rd to a T at Pond Rd (about 1 1/4 mi). North Rd continues to the right. Follow North Rd, turning sharply left at Clement Hill Rd to become Peter Wood Hill (approx. 1 1/4 mi). Continue a short distance to a small parking area on the left (approx. 300 yds). The trail head is about 20 yds downhill from the parking, on the left.   From points to the east pass through Weare on NH rt. 149 to Cross Rd., at the Wilds. Follow Cross Rd to a T at E. Deering Rd. (about 3/4 mi). Turn Right on East Deering Rd. and follow, turning sharply left at Gove Rd. (about 3/4 mi) and following to a T (approx. 1 mi) at Peter Wood Hill Rd. Turn left on Peter Wood Hill Rd and continue approx. 0.6 mi, passing Glen Rd. on the left and where the road becomes dirt, to the parking area on the right at the crest of the hill.

The Pinnacle trail is a loop that begins and ends on Peter Wood Hill. The lower end is opposite the point where Glen Rd meets Peter Wood Hill and the upper part is about 500 ft further uphill. There is a pull off large enough for 1 or 2 vehicles at the upper end, where Peter Wood Hill turns left. The entrance to the trail is slightly downhill on Peter Wood Hill from that point and is marked by a sign.

What’s the trail like?  The Pinnacle Trail loop is about 1 mile in length. The trail is reasonably well marked with white blazes on trees (but the blazes could use renewal as I write this in 2017). The trail has been well trodden over the years and is easy to follow. The trail is even underfoot, so walking is easy. For the most part the trail is level with little gain or loss in elevation however at the Glen Rd end there is a slightly steepish slope over maybe 50 yards. An option to returning to parking from Glen Rd is simply to walk through the woods, parallel to the road. Near the midpoint and the picnic table there is a side trail to ledge with an overlook however I did not see blazes on this overlook trail. Nonetheless, it would not be possible to miss the overlook or to become lost as the loop is very short and the edge of the ledge with overlook obvious. A log bench has been placed at a view-worthy spot near the picnic area, and vegetation has been kept at bay to allow for the view.

What’s the payoff? The forest in the Margaret Wood Memorial is a mixture of pine, oak and maple. The forest is very open, with little undergrowth. This makes the Pinnacle Trail a pleasant ramble through non-threatening woods. The two views are to the north and northeast, and this includes a good view of Dudley Brook and the hills beyond Henniker. There is a rustic picnic table at the highest point in the Memorial providing a great place for picnicking while taking in the views. The open forest gives lots of room for kids to run around. In early days Peter Wood Hill was known for winter sports. Today the Pinnacle Trail is a good place for snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

 

HIGH FIVE/WILSON HILL

Please contact me if you would like to download a map of the High Five Trail.

The High Five trail is rather short. We made the return hike in about an hour, allowing some time at the summit to take in the view but otherwise steady walking.

Wilson Hill, also known as High Five, is the southernmost high point of a ridge that extends over Hogden Pasture, Hedgehog Mt to Little Hedgehog Mt in the north. This long ridge separates West Deering from the rest of the town and there is no direct route from central Deering to West Deering. The ridge also forms the western boundary of a long wetland that drains to the north into the Contoocook River by Manselville Brook and to the south into the Reservoir and from there into the north branch of the Piscataquog River. The eastern bound of this wetland is dominated by Clark Summit.

Wilson Hill, at 1400 ft,  is the second highest point in Deering, behind Clark Summit. But, the panoramic views of Mt Monadnock in the southwest to Mt Lovewell in the north are delightfully accessible by a fairly easy walk of about 1/3 mile from  Sky Farm Rd, or a somewhat more strenuous ramble from Falls Rd. Wilson Hill is really an open pasture with a few trees. Apart from  the ticks, that are found everywhere here, it provides an excellent setting for a picnic (remember though, NO FIRES). The summit is an excellent place for star gazing!

There is limited space for parking at both ends of the High Five trail, but especially so at the Falls Rd. end. Sky Farm road is wide and relatively little traveled, thus offering reasonable space for on-road parking.

Sky Farm Rd is located at the southern end of Old County, opposite the point where Reservoir Rd meets Old County Rd. The entrance to the ‘High Five Reservation’ is about 3/4 mi from Old County/Reservoir Rds on Sky Farm Rd. It is marked by a Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests sign; the wide trail is blocked by a metal gate. Access to Wilson Hill is over a gently sloping dirt road which first passes through forest and then breaks into the open at the summit.

A maple tree at the summit indicates the opening for the Hedgehog Ridge Trail, which leads from Wilson Hill down to Falls Rd and then back up onto Hedgehog Ridge and, ultimately, Hedgehog Mt. Rd in the north. The trail to Falls Rd from the summit is well marked with yellow blazes and thus is easily followed.  The climb down from the summit is a little sharp over 100 yards or so, but once it enters the forest the slope becomes gradual until reaching a brook. After a short climb from the brook, the trail is level to Falls Rd. The Hedgehog Ridge trail continues immediately across Falls Rd.

The return hike from Falls Rd to Wilson Hill is an easy, not too strenuous afternoon’s walk. There are lots of mushrooms in season, ferns, and clubmosses growing along the trail.

Sites of interest along the trail include rock walls and some impressively large trees. There are two small tupelo trees on the north side of the brook, alongside the trail. About mid way between Falls Rd and the brook there is some quarried granite that are worth a stop. The land was purchased by Beatrice Trum Humter and Stephen Hunter from the Gingras Brothers late in the 1940’s. The Gingras brothers operated a mica mine, which can be seen off the trail south of the brook. The mine is not very impressive although there are pieces of mica, along with remnants of the mining operation (visible from the trail). The  brook flows south toward the Contoocook River. It is fun to follow for the small ponds and one largish beaver dam. Along the brook, not far from where the trail crosses, interesting flowering plants grow in the wetland. In short, the brook gives a great opportunity for ‘naturalizing.’

The trees along the trail are worth contemplating. Many started out as seedlings growing from rocks or fallen trees. Today the rock is gone, the old tree  rotted away, leaving the large roots as props for the grown-up tree. In other cases large old oaks can be seen to have grown up from stump sprouts many years ago, their bases conjoined; they are like old  brothers at the county fair. One youngish hardwood I saw yesterday had become bowed, forming an arc, the branches on the outside of the arc are now growing straight up. In time they too will appear as old siblings!

Wilkins-Campbell Forest at Deering Lake

How to get there. The entrance to the Wilkins-Campbell Forest is located on Wolf Hill Rd. From Deering Center Rd (NH Rt. 149) follow on Fisher Rd, at the town garage. Follow Fisher Rd. approx. 1 mi to a T at Wolf Hill Rd. Turn right on Wolf Hill Rd. Follow Wolf Hill Rd. for approx. 0.5 mi. ti the entrance to the Wilkins-Campbell Forest on the right. From Hillsborough, follow Deering Center Rd. (NH Rt. 149) to Old County Rd. Follow Old County Rd to  Wolf Hill Rd (approx. 3 mi). Turn left on Wolf Hill and follow approx. 0.4 mi to the entrance to the Wilkins-Campbell Forest on the right. Parking is on the Wolf Hill Rd.

This is a lovely property with a long, fishable shore line at the north end of Deering Lake. There is limited on-road parking at the gate, which is about a half-mile up Wolf Hill Road (get there via Old County Road). This is a great place for a picnic, fishing or general laziness on a warm summer day. Cross country skiing or snowshoeing are very possible for the winter.

The Wilkins farm forms the heart of the Wilkins-Campbell Forest. The farm is one of the earliest farms in Deering, dating from the mid 18th Century.  The original Wilkins house now stands at the corner of Old County Rd and Falls Rd. The Wilkins family donated the first burial ground in town, the Wilkins Cemetery, which is located a few hundred yards west of Falls Rd on Old County Rd. Dr. Elizabeth Campbell, the first female physician to open her own practice in New York City owned the Wilkins property through much of the 20th Century. She, and another of her New York friends, a minister Dr. Petty, hosted their Big City guests at social gatherings along the reservoir for many years. Dr Campbell, a wealthy woman, gave the land to her church, which was located at what is now The Wilds and for many years the church ran Camp Tuckernuck before going bankrupt. The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests acquired the land and removed all the camp buildings.  The Wilkins-Campbell trail passes through what was formerly Camp Tuckernuck to a lovely beach and picnic area on Deering Reservoir.

There are a few nice open spots at the end of the trail where it is easys to fish. Deering Lake is managed for bass and rainbow trout. The many blueberry bushes along the shore are a great side benefit of a visit to the Wilkins Campbell Forest.

Access to the beach is either from the trail head, a half mile walk from Wolf Hill Rd., or by kayak. The walk to the lake from the trail head is along a dirt road and is  easy to follow.  Just beyond the trail head there is a slope that could be a challenge for tired kids or others after a long day of picnicking,  but after that the trail is level and smooth. Because of the limited parking, a good way to enjoy this property is to access it by canoe or kayak and use it as an ideal picnic spot. You’ll find the town boat launch alongside the dam at the southerly end of Deering Lake. There may be a small fee to park this site at some times of year. Once your boat is in the water, paddle along the south shore toward the west. You will come to a long section of undeveloped shoreline. Look for the Forest Society sign visible from the water. Using your GPS, the beach is located at approximately N43° 03.483′ W71° 51.263′.

If your boat has been in ANY lake or stream outside of Deering you must be certain that no plants or animals are sticking to it. Invasive plant species such as milfoil and fan plant do not occur in town. Representatives of The Lake Hosts program will inspect all boats between Memorial Day and Labor day, but it is the responsibility of everybody to prevent introduction of invasive species into Deering’s waters.

If you are kayaking, there is a cove to the right as you face away from the beach. Leaving your kayak at the head of the cove you can walk 200 yards to a wetland where gentians and red lobelia abound.