Silver and Gold Part 2 – Ashuelot Headwaters

In part 1, I described the beautiful trail and summit of Silver Mountain.This blog describes what you find if you try the trail leading downhill to the two ponds.At the time of my visit, during the pandemic year of 2020, this area of the forest was being actively logged.  I’m not sure I’m in agreement with this type of logging, with heavy equipment chewing up the landscape leaving an obstacle course of broken trees and slash littering the landscape.  And I doubt it recreates or even imitates “natural” plant succession in any way.  But I suppose in a few years’ time the land will begin to recover and there’s always the argument that it stimulates plant and animal diversity.The trail slowly rounds the hill and descends towards the trail junction leading to the two ponds.  I did enjoy this birch tree, whose nursery stump upon which it sprouted has slowly disintegrated into the ground, leaving its roots completely exposed.I finally reached the junction of the trails leading to the two ponds.  I turned right towards Sand Pond.  Thanks to the logging, the trail here is even worse and completely obscured and overgrown.  I was almost ready to turn around and write this trail off as a loss.  Because the trail here had been obliterated, you’ll need your map-reading skills to find your way.  Looking carefully, it was clear that I should follow a narrow valley (or rather a notch) where a small intermittent stream would head down towards the pond.Finally the logging had come to an end and I regained the trail, but it was still hard to follow.  Can you see the trail in the photo above?  But once you’ve reached this point, there’s really no alternative but to follow the trickle of water that was the stream.  Suddenly you are in a narrow passageway with huge boulders off to one side.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered some really cool boulder caves.  They looked like a perfect place for a bear den or home for a porcupine family.  So I made plenty of noise and checked the ground for scat before entering.  No bears! at least for now.  Once inside, you could hear the stream trickling somewhere underneath the boulders.  (At Polar Caves in Plymouth NH you have to pay for this kind of experience!)  I put a circle on the map at the top of this blog to show where the boulder caves are.

Sand Pond

Finally you come upon the pond, at what a treat it is!I’m guessing the sandy part of this pond is on the opposite shore, because this side was stunningly beautiful, with lots of fun rocks to explore and clamber on.Looks like a great place to swim when the weather is warmer.  In fact this rope swing at the end of the point looks well used, presumably by the locals.  It occurs to me that the residents of Sand Pond are perfectly happy without this trail and will probably discourage the SPNHF from re-blazing it when the logging is done.  But thanks to this blog, the secret’s out.  At least you now know about this gem, even if it’s hard to get to.

Sand Pond shoreline

The shoreline along here was spectacular…and the blueberry bushes were blazing in fall reds.There were lots of places for a picnic or to just hang out on the rocks.  What fun!  I’m so glad I persevered!

Finally it was time to head back to the parking lot.  But first I had to visit Long Pond.  Retracing my way back past the boulder caves and through the logging mess, I found the short trail to Long Pond.  Oddly it was just the opposite of the previous trail.  It was wide and clean and presumably once well used.

Long Pond shoreline

And the pond was misnamed as well.  Between the large rocks on this shoreline were little sandy beaches and the shallow water appeared to extend far from the shore.  (I didn’t try it out to know for sure!)

So Long Pond was sandy and Sand Pond was rocky.  This means there’s a pond for whatever suits your fancy.   Maybe someday these two spots will become more well-known and visited.  Until then it can be our little secret.

Silver and gold, the two precious spots preserved in the Ashuelot River Headwaters Preserve.

Happy travels!

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4 responses to “Silver and Gold Part 2 – Ashuelot Headwaters

  1. Pingback: Silver and Gold Part 1 – Ashuelot Headwaters | The Park Explorer·

  2. The logging here is NOT active, it was done 3 years, or so, ago. As I noted in another comment, due to Covid, we have been unable to, improve the post-logging, trail. Still, lots more to see, on the 1800 acres that is, the Ashuelot River Headwaters Forest!

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