Exploring the Nulhegan Basin

Wow! Have you ever explored the Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge: Nulhegan Basin in the northeast kingdom of Vermont? Well, if you said no, you really should plan a trip. This relatively new Refuge was established in 1997 and encompasses lands in VT, NH, MA, and CT – all part of the Connecticut River Watershed. We explored the VT section: the Nulhegan Basin. We have also explored the NH sections that include Pondicherry. Check out our blogs from our visits there: Mud Pond and Lunch with a View and Boardwalks and Beaver Dam.

Our first destination was to travel the dirt roads toward the Mollie Beattie Bog Boardwalk. The network of roads is extensive and both Lindsay and Andrew wondered about the maintenance budget and crew, whose job is probably filled with year round road maintenance work.

The one lane roads were no trouble to travel in our subaru and we only had to pull over a couple of times for passing vehicles. The intersections are marked well and we soon found ourselves at a small parking lot for the Bog Trail.

This very short boardwalk might be lacking in length, but the interpretive signs and beauty of a sedge bog were well worth the trip. This is the largest sedge bog in Vermont. It would be neat if a tower was constructed so that visitors could get a birds’ eye view of the expansive bog. We enjoyed the bright sunshine and watched butterflies sipping nectar from rhodora flowers, dragonflies zipping by our heads, and spied a huge pitcher plant. Birders would probably enjoy this area – we were there midday and didn’t hear any birds, but early morning or late afternoon might be better.

After the bog walk, we walked a short distance down the road to get an idea of the bog boundary and then hopped back in the car. Next we stopped at the Visitor’s Center just a few miles east of Island Pond, VT. The center was closed (due to Covid-19), but we found a really neat map that shows why this area is called a “basin”.

We then followed the Nulhegan River Trail for a wonderful walk. Unfortunately there were no interpretive pamphlets left in the containers, but we imagined what the numbers along the interpretive trail might be. The trail brings you immediately down to the Nulhegan River and an amazing view of a railroad bridge. The trail follows along the riverbank for quite a distance often under the shade of immense white cedars, with numerous spots to access the water.

Many boardwalks and steps later the trail leads back up toward the visitor center. A lovely walk and amazing place to explore. There are also a couple of other trails and a boat launch to check out within the refuge. We will definitely be back to this amazing place.

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