NH M-M Trail: Section 03 (Dean Farm Rd. to junction with access trail from Widow Gage Town Forest)

2.54 miles

Richmond, Fitzwilliam

+491 ft. / -360 ft.

Dry-Shod Bypass Trail
Dry-Shod Bypass Trail
Tully Brook Crossing
Tully Brook Crossing
Beaver Meadow at Tully Brook Crossing
Beaver Meadow at Tully Brook Crossing

In this and the next two sections, the Trail passes through a long section of wild and undeveloped forest. For almost 5 miles you will not see a sign of human habitation other than in distant views. Practically all of the land you cross, both private and public, is protected by conservation easements and can never be developed. Section 3 takes you down into the Tully Brook Valley and up to the western slope of Little Monadnock Mountain.

Directions: Take the road left here and continue up the east slope of Grassy Hill for 0.7 (4.7) miles. Watch carefully on the right for an area overgrown with weeds where the trail turns right from the road down an old woods road. Now descend steadily through hardwood forest. Cross a stonewall and a seasonal stream. At 1 (5.0) miles the Dry-shod Bypass Trail (blue blazed) leaves to the left. (See below). If continuing on the main M/M Trail, follow the white blazes straight ahead through a swampy area to a faint wood road entering right at 1.2 (5.2) miles. Turn left through hemlock/spruce/fir forest bearing left again to bypass a beaver pond overflow. Continue north to reach a boulder crossing of Tully Brook under a canopy of old hemlocks at 1.6 (5.6) miles. Here the Dry-shod Bypass Trail joins the M/M Trail (from the left).

Alternate Route: The Dry-shod Bypass Trail was constructed to provide an alternate route to avoid swampy areas and broad stream crossings on the main M/M Trail. It begins at mile 1 (5.0) and is generally level as it follows the contour of the hillside passing through mixed hardwood and conifer forest, crossing 3 streams to rejoin the M/M Trail at the Tully Brook crossing. It is blazed in blue. Southbound hikers should look for this trail immediately after crossing Tully Brook. The Bypass is 0.5 miles in length. (0.1 mile shorter than the original M/M Trail route.)

Continuing: Cross Tully Brook then follow a tote road going up along and down the side of a hill always curving left. At 1.9 (5.9) miles make a sharp turn left climbing through pine and sugar bush with a brook on the right. Reach a lumbering clearing at 2.3 (6.3) miles. Cross the clearing and take an overgrown logging road that bears left (E) and downhill. Shortly the trail bears left and uphill, going straight ahead to the top of a rise, turning right and down to a brook crossing at 2.5 (6.5) miles. Cross the brook and bear southeast turning soon to the east and then uphill. The Trail soon enters the Town of Fitzwilliam and the Widow Gage Town Forest.

Caution: Parts of the hiking trails in the Town Forest coincide with or run parallel to the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. Through hikers should follow the white painted blazes to avoid turning off onto any of the Widow Gage Forest trails.

Continuing: The trail now joins an old tote road northeast to the junction with Widow Gage Rd (also sometimes known as Old Troy Rd.) at 2.6 (6.6) miles. Across the road to the left, a small beaver pond at the base of Little Monadnock frequently harbors wild ducks. This road is not passable here except by 4 wheel drive off-road vehicles. Just prior to the junction with Widow Gage Road, the Widow Gage Forest Red Trail enters at an angle from the right (S). This trail is marked by red triangles and coincides with the M-M trail until just before Widow Gage Rd. The trail now turns right (S) down Widow Gage Road to a left turn at 2.7 (6.7) miles off the road and up a bank then east through an old pasture once thick with juniper but now grown up with white pine. The trail soon turns sharply left and crosses a large stone wall and slabs the hill to a left turn beside a seasonal brook at 2.8 (6.8) miles.

Access Trail: At this point a side trail to the Widow Gage Forest parking lot leaves to the right from the trail. To reach the parking lot, follow this trail (marked with orange markers) about 200 feet to the junction with another (blue marked) trail. Turn left onto this trail and follow it 0.2 miles to another trail junction. Turn left again on this trail (blue markings) and follow it 0.2 miles to the parking lot.

This parking lot should be now used to access this section the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail (rather than the old access via Widow Gage (Old Troy) Rd.). To reach this parking lot from the West, take NH Route 119 from Richmond to Old Troy Road. Turn left on Old Troy Rd. and follow it for 1.0 miles to the junction of Rhododendron Rd. (tennis court on your left). Turn right on Rhododendron Rd. and follow it for 0.1 miles to the parking lot (on your left.)

To reach the parking lot from the East, take Rhododendron Rd. off of Rt. 119 in Fitzwilliam and follow it to Rhododendron Park. Continue on Rhododendron Rd (now a gravel road). The parking lot is on the right, 1.0 miles past the Park.

Warning: The Google Map for this sections shows a maintained road called Morgan Rd. that ends close to the M/M Trail. Accessing the M/M Trail from the end of the Morgan Rd. is not permitted.

Access from Parking Lot: To reach the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail from the parking lot take the blue marked trail from the parking lot. At the trail junction 0.2 miles from the parking lot, turn right (still on a blue marked trail). Follow this trail for 0 .2 miles slightly uphill and then steeply downhill. Just beyond a bridge crossing of a stream take a trail (orange markers) to the right. The M/M Trail is 200 feet up this trail. Turn right to go North on the M/M Trail and left to go south.

A circuit walk including the summit of Little Monadnock may be based on the Rhododendron State Park (picnic tables, toilet facilities) and the M/M Trail.Enter the Park between the two stone pillars at the edge of its parking lot. Go straight ahead on a well graded trail for about 0.2 miles to a trail junction with a sign indicating the trail to Little Monadnock. Bear right at this sign and follow the orange plastic blazes on the trees. WARNING The trail up Little Mondnock is currently badly maintained and has steep and eroded sections including one short scramble over a rocky ledge.Missing blazes make it difficult to follow in some sections. Taking this trail, you reach the top of the climb and the M/M Trail at 1.2 miles. Turn left and follow the Trail (white blazes) to the true summit (1.4 miles). Bear right and steeply down off the summit. At 1.5 miles reach an open ledge with a partial view to the west. (A side trail to the right just before the ledge leads to a more extensive view.) Follow trail to descend steeply off of this ledge. Bear left and follow trail, steadily descending along the rocky southwest ridge of the mountain. At about 1.8 miles the rocky ridge ends and the trail continues to descend through varied forest finally descending a steep gully and crossing a seasonal brook (2.3 miles). Continue descending beside the brook. Where the trail takes a turn to the right (2.4 miles), look for a trail blazed with orange markers on the left. Take this trail (see above) to reach the Widow Gage Forest parking lot at 2.8 miles. At the parking lot turn left onto Rhododendron Road and follow it back to Rhododendron Park (3.8 miles).

Trail Condition If there have been heavy rains, the swampy area (starting at 1 mile) may be flooded and hard to cross. Use the alternate Dryshod Bypass Trail which is drier.

Copyright 2016, 2019 Frank Bequaert (Copying permitted for personal use only.)

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