"Canned" description follows with additions by me on sections we have hiked.
The New Hampshire Heritage Trail, a 230 mile walking path from Massachusettes to Canada was created by countless volunteers. It is a way for you to discover the state's rich and unique heritage, its natural beauty and culture. This project was started in 1987 by the NH Division of Parks and Recreation, the Student Conservation Association, and several others. Governor Judd Gregg dedicated the first twenty-two miles in Franconia Notch in 1989.
Lancaster's section of the Heritage Trail is fifteen miles long. It travels along paved streets and country gravel roads, up and down hills, along one side of Mount Prospect, and over a covered bridge.
We begin at the south end on Martin Meadow Pond Road at the town line with Dalton, a few yards off Route 142. The trail follows the road in a north-easterly direction to US Route 3. More to the point, the road (unpaved) is the trail.
Break in "canned" description.
One of my daughters and I snowshoed the off the road part last weekend (1/12/97) We drove down to Martin Meadow Pond road, and started looking for where the trail went off through the woods towards Weeks State Park. I went back on October 30, 1997 and took the pictures you see here. The marker is barely visable on a tree about 8 feet up. More visable is a large mound of dirt to keep people from going up the old road that is the trail now. The mound is about 1/4 mile in from Route 3 on the north side of the road. If you're coming from the other (Dalton) direction the mound will be on your left just after the first road after Martin Meadow Pond.
By the way, there were several people ice-fishing on the pond. But certainly not the day I took the pictures!
Here are some of the sights you'll see along Martin Meadow Pond Road:
We drove down to Dalton and hunted around, could find no sign of the trail. Returned back to the parking lot across from the gate to Weeks State Park at the top of Corrigan Hill. We snowshoed from the parking lot beside Route 3 down to the trail and down to the mound. Saw snowshoe rabbit tracks with huge leaps, and a set of fox tracks going in the same direction. Wonder if the fox had dinner? Also saw some large deer tracks and some small mouse tracks.
We went back up the hill to where the trail crosses Route 3 about 400 meters south of the parking lot. There is a sign there with directions and distances.
Crossed the road. There's another sign just as the trail enters the woods with directions and distances. Continued up until the trail began following what is probably an old logging road. Went a ways up this, then doubled back as it was getting dark. The logging road meets with the main road to the top of Mount Prospect a short distance below. There's another sign there with directions and distances. It meets the snowmobile trail here.
Easy walking if you don't have snowshoes depending on snow conditions as the snowmobiles pack the trail down.
Please step to the side and wave if snowmobilers come by while you're on a trail. They are kind enough to maintain the trails and pack it for your use, please be friendly and thankful. Maintaining trails is a LOT of work and the club members volunteer a great deal of time to do it. Parts of the Heritage trail are also snowmobile trails, others not.
Crossing Route 3 to the East, the trail enters Weeks State Park. Parking is available at and across from the Mount Prospect Ski Slope. The trail descends to Reed Road, to this point the trail is cleared and marked. The trail follows Reed Road easterly for a short distance, then turns to the left (north), over Houlton Hill to Portland Street (Route 2) into Lancaster Village.
It emerges on Riverside drive, this shot is looking from Riverside drive up the trail towards Portland Street.
This is the sign across the road pointing towards the covered bridge section and downtown Lancaster.
The trail crosses Israel's River on the Mechanic Street covered bridge.
It follows a couple of streets to the top of Bunker Hill Street where it enters the Bunker Hill woods.
Look for markers like this painted on the road.
It follows some old logging roads and a snowmobile trail to the old Kilkenny Railroad bed.
You walk along a gradual incline, soon hearing the sounds of a brook coming from a large beaver dam.
There is a sign on the right before you cross the bridge telling some of the history of the trail. You might like to leave the Heritage trail for a few minutes and follow the old rail bed a ways before doubling back to return to the trail.
Here's the beaver hut.
Those bubbles are methane gas caused by the decay of leaves, etc. in the water. When you disturb the area the bubbles are released.
Here you'll find a sign telling the history of the railroad written by Dan Truland.
Most of the area you are walking is was farm fields and pastures in the 1800s. You can see how quickly the forest grew back from this total "clearcut"! This tree was used as a fence post, you can see how much it's grown since then. Her finger is pointing to where the wire comes out.
A closeup of the barbed wore where the tree has grown around it.
A tree about a foot in diameter felled by the beavers.
A moose wallow at the edge of the pond.
You'll find a memorial to a couple of recently departed local youths who liked this spot. You'll see why when you see the view.
This is a view from the other end of the beaver pond. The hike in is a little tough through some blowdowns and brush. You might not want to go out where I took this picture.
After crossing the brook, look for trees cut down by beavers.
We just hiked this section today (March 24, 1996) and found the trail blocked by the top of a large popple tree with many of the top branches cut off and dragged away by hungry beavers. We looked around and saw a yellow birch about 16 inches in diameter also felled and several more popples. Look at the size of the chips they bit out!
Next you follow several logging roads toward Page Hill.
You'll pass a large section recently logged. Watch this in the next few years for the variety of flowers and berry plants that will spring up now that sunlight has been allowed to reach the ground. Also watch for the many animals that will thrive on the plants that will grow here.
You'll notice there are few signs of animals in a forest where there are only large trees. That's because there is nothing for the animals or birds to eat. You'll find a great variety of birds and animals where there have been logging operations. For the next few years the critters will dine on the young shoots and trees, the berries and other plants that appear. Eventually the trees grow large enough to shade out the forest floor again and the animals will either move on or starve.
The trail goes on to Page Hill Road, following it to the town line with Northumberland.
There are numerous other hiking trails in the Lancaster area. Maps and information are available at the Ammonoosuc Ranger District Headquarters, Trudeau Rd, Bethlehem NH. Phone: (603)869-2626 Mailing Address:
Ammonoosuc Ranger District Headquarters PO Box 239 Bethlehem NH 03574
Franconia Notch State Park
Outside links to Heritage Trail info:
Heritage Trail in Hudson - This may or may not be the "Heritage Trail", I couldn't find a direct reference to it. Appears to be some trails in a conservation area.
(Ed S.) Perhaps we can find other trail related pages and link ourselves all together to provide info people can follow to trails that link If you don't mind, I'll post this e-mail on my page to hopefully instigate more people to put up trail info.