Mary’s Mountain is a 944-foot peak located in the 2,661-acre Freedom Town Forest. My friend Beverly Woods of Wolfeboro and I went there on a beautiful Wednesday this week, and enjoyed the warm weather and some sun on the summit before Thursday’s rain.
There are many interesting aspects to the Freedom Town Forest, including Mary’s Mountain and the 21-acre Trout Pond.
The forest was established in 2005 after multiple agencies participated in its purchase. A conservation easement held by the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development assures its protection in perpetuity.
Part of the Ossipee Pine Barrens are located there. Combined with The Nature Conservancy’s pine barrens property to the east and the Madison Town Forest, it makes for a 5,000-acre corridor of contiguous open space and conservation lands.
The town forest is a multiple use forest, with hunting, fishing and trapping allowed. B.H. Keith Associates manages the property and does occasional logging. They have collaborated with the Wildlife Management Institute, promoting habitat for woodcock and other wildlife. Woodcock require open “singing areas” for their mating ritual. Five log landings have been identified as woodcock singing areas. Some of these are older and have been expanded.
To learn more, check out the website for the Woodcock Management Plan and their specific work in the Freedom Town Forest at timberdoodle.org/demo/freedom-town-forest-carroll-county-new-hampshire.
Woodcock can be found throughout the eastern United States.
Back to Wednesday’s hike. Coming from West Ossipee, we took Route 41 to Ossipee Lake Road and in about 5 1/2 miles turned left on Shawtown Road. We drove in past the Depot Store in the Danforth Bay Camping and RV Resort. After a 90-degree right on the tar road, we went straight on a dirt road, climbed a hill briefly and parked in a grass lot on the right, across from a town forest kiosk.
We walked to the left of the kiosk up the Mary’s Mountain Trail and took our time, enjoying the carpet of beech leaves underfoot and the fabulous glowing burnt sienna foliage around us.
In about half a mile we approached the open summit ledges. Clouds were slowly moving in, but the ledges remained sunlit for our lunch.
A few tall white pine poked up in the view, but the vista of Green Mountain over Danforth Bay was great. To the south the bulk of Ossipee Lake was visible, partly obscured by bare branches. To the east was the Scarboro Rdge and Mount Prospect in Freedom. It was a great place to be on an Indian summer day.
It was our first time exploring the Freedom Town Forest and likely not our last. We want to hike another longer section of the Mary’s Mountain Trail that starts to the west and climbs the mountain from that direction, and also visit Trout Pond.
Brochures with a map are available at three kiosks on the property, and the map is online at townoffreedom.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Trailmap.pdf.