Great Strides – The Sweet Trail of Durham

The Sweet Trail's south end faces Great Bay

The Sweet Trail’s south end faces Great Bay

The Sweet Trail is a beautiful and easy 4.3 mile hike (one way) through the woods and wetlands of Durham and Newmarket, just to the west of Great Bay.  It sometimes felt like it was laid out by a lonely white-tailed buck searching for does, as it meanders first left to the shore of a pond then right to a bouldery overlook, then left again while slowly making its way along the actual 3.5 mile end-to-end distance as the crow flies.

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As the trail map indicates, this trail traverses a patchwork of preserved land with at least 5 different conservation organizations being involved, and they all want to publicize their participation by erecting small, unobtrusive signs and plaques along the trail.  For more on the history of the trail and the wildlife to be found, click here.

Just one of many beaver lodges to be seen

Just one of many beaver lodges to be seen

Because the entire trail never gains much more than 100 feet in elevation, it makes for an easy walk, one where you can really stretch your legs if you want or take your time and pay attention to all that surrounds you.  My wife Carol would love this trail as she doesn’t see the point of climbing a mountain just to hike back down again.  I’ll have to bring her here sometime, maybe in the spring.  Maybe then we could see some of the Blanding’s turtles that this area protects.

A pileated woodpecker shows off

A pileated woodpecker shows off

A great blue heron tries to avoid the camera

A great blue heron tries to avoid my camera

As it was, I wasn’t trying very hard, nor was it the best time of day or year, but I still saw my share of wildlife.

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What always intrigues me are the signs of past human endeavor, now partially lost in the wilderness.  So naturally I was attracted to the cellar holes, of which I saw at least 4 along the way.  And the stone walls speak to even more discoveries to be made, if one just takes the time to search past that opening in the wall…  But whatever the reason, you won’t be disappointed by the Sweet Trail, unless you are expecting a loop hike.

Many people seem to think this is a loop trail...

Many people seem to think this is a loop trail…

Not 30 feet from this trail sign a man asked if I was taking the loop hike!  Maybe there is one somewhere but if so, it’s not marked.  I hiked the full 9 miles there and back again but it would also be easy to break this up or park a car at both ends for an easier hike.  This would be enjoyable just about anytime.  Happy travels!

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