Often when I want to get outside, I don’t want to drive a long way to get there. That’s one of the reasons this web site exists. A preserve that I feel is important, especially for southern NH which can seem awfully crowded, is the Horse Hill Nature Preserve in Merrimack. It is over 500 acres of diverse features including beaver ponds, steep hills, cellar holes, winding brooks and many wetlands.
I’ve been there in winter, but spring is when I feel it really shines. Wildflowers proliferate including fringed polygala, wild oats, pink lady slipper and indian pipe (a personal favorite). Sheltering under the mixed hardwood and pines are also many, many ferns. Having been logged many times over the decades, the forest is young and the trees relatively small. That’s why it seems beavers love it there, creating new ponds and trimming saplings all over. Hidden deeper in the preserve is White Pine swamp which plays host to many water fowl.
Motor-vehicles are prohibited on most of the trails, but horses are not. Just be careful of some of the bridges – there are signs warning that they may not be safe for your mount. Also, if you’re planning to hike the Loop Trail, give yourself a lot of time and when you cross back over the power lines, continue along that path (to the right) until the Loop Trail sign appears on your left. I’ve missed it a few times and ended up with a much shorter outing than I’d planned. Other than this bit, it is well signed, blazed and posted. There is also plenty of parking on Amherst Street.
How to get there –
Head for the town of Merrimack, NH
From Route 3, Everett Turnpike take exit 10. If coming from the north, turn right off the ramp and straight through the intersection onto Amherst road. If from the south turn left off the ramp and right onto Amherst Road. Continue until you reach the main parking area on the right at 184 Amherst Rd. Merrimack, NH 03054
More photos can be found here.
Happy trails and remember to carry out what you carry in (and pick up after those who don’t) and please leash your dogs! Also please respect local rules and regulations.