Where can you take a carload of kids and adults, spend $5 total, and have a good time outdoors in winter? The answer — 100 Acres Woods in Intervale, run by the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation.
What can you do there? In winter, you can walk, run, ski, snowshoe or walk your dogs on 10 of groomed trails in the Trails in the Wood. The day I went, trails were “skate groomed” — a firm, packed surface for multiple users.
Trails go from easy, flat trails like “Sugar Shack,” “Winnie’s Wanderings” and “Tigger’s Trail” to a more challenging, hilly trail like “Great Ridge.” Families follow a half-mile storybook trail, stopping to read each page, while looking forward to the next — a unique version of a “page-turner.”
In March, following the “Sugar Shack Loop,” and “Maple Sugar Tour,” trail users inspect sap buckets to see if sap’s flowing while reading a book about making maple syrup, “Grandpa, Is it Ready Yet?” They’ll visit the Sugar Shack to check if steam coming out the top means they’re boiling. If they’re lucky, sweet samples will be there for the tasting.
What will you see along the way? 100 Acre Woods is uniquely situated between two rivers, the East Branch and the Saco. “Tigger’s Trail” will take you beside the East Branch to view its flows and ice chunks. “North Bush” trail will take you to the Saco shores with it mountain and river views. In “Beaver Hollow,” you’ll ski near a small pond.
Take “Railroad Alley” and pass the “Journey to the North Pole” entrance. On the hill above sits the magnificent white-domed Theater in the Woods. It doubles as the North Pole in the months before Christmas.
As you climb” Great Ridge Trail,” you enter the forest, where you’ll spy all sorts of tracks — animal and human. The winter snowshoe trail, “Kanga’s Loop” will take you deeper into the woods. In nearby theater and trail parking lot, you’ll spy a kiosk where there’s information and tickets. The half-mile “Storybook Trail” starts there.
Reading as you go, you’ll follow this trail down the hill, turning left on “Great Ridge Trail” to complete the book. If you turn right on “Great Ridge,” ski downhill to a bridge. Stop there and look at the views across the swamp.
Continue on until you come to “Sugar Shack Loop” junction. Follow that directly to the Sugar Shack, where you hope they’re boiling syrup. Steam and sweet smells will fill the air, and you might get a taste or two! As “Sugar Shack Loop” passes the other kiosk near the entrance to 100 Acre Woods and parking lot, watch for the “Maple Sugar Tour.”
For more information about 100 Acre Woods and the 12 k trail system, go to tinyurl.com/y6n9jdgr. Trail passes are $5 per auto for the day or $10 for the week and can be purchased at either the kiosk just inside the gate or the kiosk at the Theater and trail parking lot. All you have to do is fill out an envelope, put in the cash and drop it in the box. You put the envelope stub on your dashboard. It couldn’t be easier!
If you get a Believe in Books Literacy Foundation memberships of $50 individual, $75 family, you can have year-round access to the trails, in addition to other benefits. In winter you can ski, snowshoe or walk the trails. In warmer months, you can walk, hike and mountain bike the trails, while reading the stories and enjoying the natural setting. What a bargain!
What is Believe in Books Literacy Foundation? The mission of the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation is “to advance healthy development of young minds through literacy programs that encourage early reading, imagination, and physical activity. The Literacy Foundation is a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit guided by the needs and involvement of the communities of which it serves.”
The foundation is involved in numerous literacy programs, including Books in Character, Books from Birth, bookbags program, bookmobiles and scholarships. They also sponsor theater events like Earth Day with Lorax, Character Breakfast Series, Kids Summer Theater Camp, and Youth Theater presentations. This year, it’ll be Disney’s “Frozen Junior.”
I found this information on BIBLF’s website, believeinbooks.org, “the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation is approaching the $2.5 million mark for literacy programs, scholarships, grants and book distributions brought to Northern New Hampshire and Western Maine. We regularly visit over 60 preschools reaching hundreds of households and have given out close to 100,000 brand new books over the past few years.” That’s a lot of books!
To support their literacy programs, BIBLF has to raise lots of money. For instance, they host many fundraising events. The most popular is “The Journey to the North Pole,” which runs in November and December. This began as the “Journey to the North Pole,” in 1995 when a small group of local volunteers wanted to create an event for businesses in that off season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When that event had money left over, they donated it to a Carroll County Adult Tutorial Program.
The next year, they changed the event’s name to “Polar Express” and started thinking about creating a non-profit to utilize profits from subsequent Polar Express events. In 1998, Believe in Books Literacy Foundation became that nonprofit and achieved Charitable 501(c)(3) status.
For nine years, BIBLF rented the Bear Peak Lodge for their “North Pole” location. In 2003, they purchased the land 100 Acre Woods is on, and in 2004, built their own “Theater in the Woods.” That became new “North Pole” destination.
In 2017, when Warner Brothers took over the “Polar Express” name and wanted charge BIBLF to use it, the event’s name went back to its original, “Journey to the North Pole.”
Other fundraising events they sponsor include Kids’ Fun Run at Story Land (Monday, Sept. 2), and 100 Acre Woods Challenge, 5K Obstacle Course (Saturday, Sept. 28).
BIBLF also leases its Theater in the Woods to other groups for functions. This weekend, Mount Washington Backcountry Ski Festival will use it for presentations. It has Cold River Radio Show’s venue numerous times, as well as other events. It can be rented for weddings and parties, too.
Every Saturday, from March 2 to April 20, it’ll be the setting for the ninth annual Storybook Character Breakfast Series. Starting at 9:30 a.m., kids and their families can e enjoy homemade pancakes with 100 Acre Woods maple syrup, listen to stories, and meet their favorite storybook characters. After, they can explore the trails and visit the Sugar Shack to sample warm maple syrup and maple popcorn. All this for a suggested donation of $5 a person. What a sweet deal!
All this activity and events keep the BIBLF’s staff of eight full-time workers and volunteers busy. But the busiest person is probably A.O. Lucy, BIBLF’s CEO, and trail designer, builder and groomer. He’s passionate about BIBLF’s mission “to stimulate young minds through physical activity and mental exercise by cranking up the imagination.”
Visit 100 Acre Woods with your family and exercise your bodies, taste buds and brains!
Great Glen Trails: Tuesday Nordic Meisters and Fatbike Meisters, through March, 9 a.m.-3:45 p.m. for Nordic Meisters, 4-6 p.m. for Fatbikers.
Sundays, Bill Koch Ski League, young skiers from 1-8 grade, 1:30-3:30 p.m., through March.
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation: Friday Gliders, Sliders and Easy Sliders, through March, 1-3 p.m., 2-hour social ski followed by snacks and beverages.
Bretton Woods Nordic Center: Thursdays Ladies Loppets, on March 14, 10:45 a.m. to noon, activity based, social group working on improving techniques.
Granite Backcountry Alliance Mount Washington Backcountry Ski Fest, March 8-10. Go to: tinyurl.com/y63xjvbr for more information about clinics and events.
Great Glen Trails Charity Day, Saturday, March 9, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., donate $25 per person ($15 age 5-12) to your favorite charity and enjoy free skiing, tubing and buffet lunch. Donate $50 ($30 for kids) and get chance to ride snow coach, too.
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation skate clinics, Sunday, March 10, V1 plus hills, 10:30 a.m.-noon, V2 plus balance, 1-2:30 p.m., $25 each, or both for $40. Call JSTF (603-383-9355) to register and get details.
Baxter Winter Triathlon, Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, Saturday, March 16, 9-11 a.m.
Sally McMurdo is a cross-country ski instructor at Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. For almost four decades, she has explored New England's groomed and ungroomed trails on all kinds of skis.