Friday, June 13, 2014

Mother's Day Hike at Beaver Brook in Hollis, NH

Today was Mother's Day. A day I typically leave open on the calendar for my husband to work some magic into for me. After a huge meal at Parker's Maple Barn, we drove over to Beaver Brook in Hollis, NH. Big Dude and I had been there many times but I don't believe we have been there since the Lil' Dude was born. It's one of my favorite local hikes and I have yet to explore the entire property. The Beaver Brook Association runs school programs and seasonal programming as well as maintaining the 30 miles of trails. 
Sign post at the trailhead 
We parked at the main office where you can purchase a map for $2. We opted not to (when will we ever learn!) and followed the trails based on our memories. We should have known better as there had been changes to the main lot, including the lovely yurt you can see in the picture of the sign post.

Giant Paper Wasp Nest (about the size of a basketball) near the yurt
Before we even hit the trail, we spotted this gigantic wasp nest. It was definitely inactive but I couldn't get over how big it was. It reminded me of something out of Winnie the Pooh.

We set off down Cow Lane. It's a wide, flat, hard pack path. We both remembered that it would head us down to the wetlands. The sun was shining and very warm. Lil' Dude opted to be carried in his backpack. He actually had fallen asleep in the car on the way from brunch and was still waking up.
Cow Lane
 Along the lane there was a patch of what I believe are wild violets. It had been such a long winter, I was pleased to see some of the wildflowers are starting to bl
Wild Violets
I must have been inspired by the violets. The next sign post was for the Wildflower Trail, which we of course followed. Big and Lil' Dude took off pretty quickly as I took pictures. They even missed the pretty yellow flowers I found. I really need to brush up on my flora knowledge. When I get a chance I want to match up all my flower pictures with actual names.

Wildflower Trail
 We did not see too many flowers on the Wildflower Trail, so when we found the junction of Big Tree Trail, we followed it.

Awesome Tree Id Posts
 The Big Dude had to stop at EVERY Tree Id Post and read them aloud. He does this in museums too. I doubt he remembers half of what is on them and still can't idea a Black Birch from a Paper Birch.  The Id Posts were very well constructed and had interesting information along with how to identify the trees.
Little White Flowers

Big Tree Trail

Now that I'm looking at the map, I think we walked all of the Big Tree Trail. The field was hot and sunny. Lil Dude was looking for birds the whole time but didn't find any. 

At this point Lil Dude decided he wanted to hike. Of course he did! The trail was a steep drop down and he was terrifying his poor mother the entire time. We reached a lovely marshy junction at Maple Leaf Trail. I was amazed that the bugs weren't worse.

We hiked along in the cool of the trees and spotted some unusual plants. I really liked these plants that decided to grow on top of this huge rock. 

Eventually we wandered towards some running water (really we should have brought a map). It was lovely to hear the brook. 

Lil' Dude popped in and out of wanting to be in the backpack and hiking. He did really well on the flatter areas. 

The Cow Path was lush and green. There were wildflowers on the side of the trail if you kept your eyes open. 

We arrived at this junction and opted to follow a path that we saw some other hikers coming down. It of course was a wrong turn. I realized this as I could hear the traffic on Rt. 130 getting louder and louder. So we turned back. 

Compared to the rest of Beaver Brook this trail was the least scenic, though I did get some great photos. The trail was clearly being worked on with trucks and logging operations. Here's a few pretty sights that I spotted. 

Random cairn in the water

Mossy area

We hiked up and Lil Dude managed to climb this pretty big hill. I was a bit out of shape (and 4 months pregnant) and found it to be slightly challenging.

Up a big big hill

He heard airplanes flying overhead so of course we stopped to look for them. I also found more wildflowers.

We stopped for a snack and water break. I heard some rustling in the leaves and spotted this lovely little garter snake. He politely posed for photos.  

On the other side of the hill, our littlest hiker was getting tired and cranky. After he tripped some he decided that the backpack was for him. So he was back in the carrier.  We found the bridge that crosses the top of Spatterdock Pond to Cow Lane. Lil Dude decided he wanted to cross. Bravely, Big Dude and I let him go. I pointed out the frogs and fish. 

For his first hike of the year, Lil' Dude did real well. He navigated tough terrain for a 2 year old and let us know when it was too much. 

Big Dude and I made the parental decision that he would carry the Lil' Dude back to the parking lot. There was lots of protesting but we all were rather tired at that point. Back in the carrier he went and he actually rested his head a few times on the short hike back up to the car. 


I love Beaver Brook. It's one of those areas that I often wish was a bit closer. The miles and miles of trails to explore, not to mention the programming they offer, make it a terrific place to enjoy nature. I know we'll be back there again. Hopefully sooner than later. 

Where: Beaver Brook, 117 Ridge Road, Hollis, NH 03049

On the web:

Directions: From South on NH Route 3

Head north on NH Route 3. Take Exit 6, then turn left onto Broad Street/Route 130. Drive approximately 6 miles. Bear right at the fork and travel to the set of lights in Hollis. Turn left at the lights onto Route 122 South. Drive approximately 1 mile and turn right onto Ridge Road. The Brown Lane Barn entrance is approximately .7 miles on the right. Continue .25 miles on Ridge Road to reach the Maple Hill Farm (117 Ridge Road).

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