Two weekends ago we ventured out on a short snowshoe hike to The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, NH. The Rocks Estate is owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The big claim to fame for the property is the Christmas tree farm, but they also have trails and a visitor center. We’ve actually never been to the buildings, but when Lindsay was looking for an easy place to snowshoe she found that they have some nice hikes on their property. We downloaded and printed a map from their website and headed over to Bethlehem, stopping at Maia Papaya for lunch first.
From our map we saw that the Michael A. Gozzo Memorial Trail at the south end of the property, was accessible from a neighborhood road, and from there we could either walk back toward The Rocks Estate buildings or across the road and up a low hill. There is also a power line corridor that runs through the property and we decided that we wanted to try to stay away from that if possible.
We found a small plowed out parking lot with one other car off the South Road and did a drive by to see how far down the road the other trail was (the one that would lead us back towards The Rocks Estate). It was just down past two houses and the trail looked inviting, so we turned around and parked in the small lot and walked to the gated trail. The map also showed a Beaver Pond that we could walk to as a destination point.
The trail is an access road and very wide, making for easy walking. It would have been a great place to ski (although steep), but snowshoeing was also very enjoyable. We seemingly had the trail to ourselves, except for passing a couple of women hiking their way back up the road. The trail takes you through a mixed hardwood forest losing elevation to reach a brook crossing over a fine bridge.
It was a pleasant walk, except for the constant whirr of cars on near-by Route 93. We had no idea we were so close to the highway. The trail brought us to a small clearing with a picnic table and we could see the power lines just ahead of us, but we turned off toward the Beaver Pond overlook and trail. The Beaver Pond was frozen-still and snowed over this time of year. No sign of active beaver and we never spotted their home, but there was evidence of chewed trees near the shore. We couldn’t resist going out onto the pond for a better look.
After a short stop at the Beaver Pond we headed back up the trail. It was a steady incline in this direction and when we reached the road a neighbor and his dog Jake (who wanted us to take him for a walk) told us the trail on the other side of the road (where we parked) is not as steep; and that there was a nice opening with apple trees just 15 minutes up the trail. We will have to check that part of the Gozzo Trail next time.
Even though the cold temperatures may keep you inside this time of year, it’s always refreshing to bundle up and get outside: even for a short walk in the woods.