Seems like just a minute ago, we were in enjoying summer, and suddenly it has slipped away. UNH students are back, and Oyster River Schools are in session. With the return of responsibility comes busy schedules that can become a grind. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun things to do in Durham this September and October.
One of Durham's prized assets is its amazing trails. Access to walking, trail running, or biking in the woods is a short distance from almost any neighborhood. While many people might know about Wagon Hill, they might not be aware of the other options.
Located on Bennett Road, this is an area the Conservation and Land Stewart Committees have been working to improve and promote. The scenic drive to it on Bennett Road passes several working Durham farms. There is ample parking, and the trails give great views of the Oyster River. You can find a complete trail write-up and volunteer opportunities at the
Celebrate Durham website.
The Sweet Trail
At the end of Longmarsh road, you'll find a small parking area and the entrance to The Sweet Trail. It's a four mile trail that winds through woods and ends at Bay Road. One of the highlights of this walk is passing by the "Beaver Dams." If you look around at the trees, you'll see ample evidence of the beavers' work. This is an awesome place to walk your dogs, but keep in mind Durham's leash laws apply here.
You can find the Nature Conservancy's map and trail guide here.
The Oyster River Forest
This is another property that the Conservation
and Land Stewardship committees have been working on. They have been removing invasive species, restoring habitats, improving trails, and adding bridges.
The entrance of the Oyster River Forest is marked by a large sign and is just past the junction of Mill Road and Packers Fall Road. A New information kiosk with a trail map has recently been installed and provides an overview of the property. The Oyster River Forest trail links with the College Woods trail, and together they form a 2.62 mile path to the UNH campus. You can find more information at
the Town of Durham website.
UNH College Woods trail starts at the Wildcat statue located on main street near the Whittemore Center. Given its proximity to campus, it is very popular for both running and cross country skiing. The trail is 2.14 miles long, and as mentioned, links to the Oyster River Forest. You can find trail trail map here.
East and West Foss Farm
As you travel south on Mill Road, take a left immediately after the railroad bridge. The small road leads to the entrance of West Foss Farm. UNH purchased the land in1923 from the Boston and Maine Railroad company. It is popular spot for UNH class lab trips and has been part of a recent regional effort to protect the habitat for New England Cottontail . The site is perfect for running, biking, and cross country skiing.
You can find a trail map here.
Wagon Hill Farm
In 1989, the Town of Durham wisely purchased the 139 acre Wagon Hill Farm. It's located 3 miles east of downtown and is directly across route 4 from Emery Farm.
At the end of the dirt entrance road, there is a small parking lot and several trails. If you take a left and head up the hill towards the wagon, you'll follow a loop that takes you through fields, woods, and a small beach on the Oyster River. It takes the curious Lab in the picture about an hour to walk it. You can find a more complete article about Wagon Hill Farm here.
Durham Parks and Recreation Events
Late September while the weather is still nice, Parks & Rec annually hosts a community BBQ at Wagon Hill. There are free burgers and fun activities for everyone.. This year's cookout is Saturday, September 22 from 12:30 -3:30 PM. If you haven't been to Wagon Hill, It will give you a chance to walk the trails and see the community gardens.
A new event this year is Town Trail Day, on October 14th at Doe Farm and The Oyster River Forest. It's a chance for the community to discover these properties and learn about the Town's efforts to manage them. There is a lot of work that's needed to help with invasive species and trail work, and you'll learn how you can help. The day will also give you a chance to learn more about the Conservation and Land Stewardship Committees .
Lace up your boots, grab the family and the dog, and head out to discover Durham's trail system.