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Map 14: Society for the Protection of NH Forests Trail

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  1. Walking trails
Trail Access
PDF Map | Map 14 Printable Friendly Text

Take Exit 16 off of I-93. Turn right on the stop sign. At the second stop sign turn right onto Mountain Road and then take the first right onto Eastman Street. Proceed past Merrill Park on your left. Take a sharp left onto Portsmouth Street. The trailhead parking lot will be a few hundred feet on the right.

The Trails
Hiking travel time: about 1 hour
Distance: about 1.5 miles total 

You arrive at the trail by walking down, or along, a steep river bluff. Magnificent white pines surround the Conservation Center atop the bluff, while hardwoods - oak, maple, ash, birch, basswood and hickory - dominate the slope. In spring, a spectacular display of yellow trout lilies may be seen; in autumn the color show of maples takes over. At the bottom of the stairs, the trail follows the edge of a beaver pond, along the brook and ends in the Merrimack River through a spectacular wetland with one beaver dam and several old beaver lodges. Watch for ducks and herons.

Now you stand on the floodplain of the Merrimack River. From here you may notice bittersweet vines entwining the smaller trees. The large dead trees are remains of American elms, killed many years ago by the accidentally imported Dutch Elm Disease. These snags have considerable value as den trees for mammals and as a source of insect food for the big, red-crested pileated Woodpecker and other birds.

Birds can be seen along the trail. Year-round residents and migratory species both take advantage of this varied landscape near the heart of the city. Especially attractive are summer visitors such as the cardinal, oriole, and rose-breasted grosbeak.

Most mammals prefer to come out at night and are often detected by their tracks in mud or snow. Deer are often observed along the edge of clearings, and beaver workings can be seen in many locations. As you walk, keep a keen eye out for these signs as well as for the turtles, frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders, and insects that make the floodplain their home too.