I hiked the John Hay Forest Ecology Trail at the Fells in Newbury today. This is a short hike - 1.5 miles across various terrain and with lots of outside artwork - sculptures and gardens. There is also a house tour at the Hay estate, but I wasn't interested in this today. I really enjoyed the hike. The terrain really varied between a mowed path in a butterfly field, to a wooded path and then a untouched woodland hike. I think it would be a fantastic running trail as well, a little treacherous, but very fun. There are a few trails, not just one, so that families with little kids can do the simple trails and older people can just walk the grounds.
There are many sculptures on the trail. Here is one hanging from a tree. It spins around in the breeze, like a giant mobile.
Here is another sculpture along the driveway. This one is huge, about the size of a bus.
These metal bears are my favorite sculptures. You can just barely see the cub coming out of the woods behind the mama bear.
I took this little trail out of curiosity. There were signs directing you to a "Fairy Village". How could I resist. The village was enclosed by a stick fence. There were lots of little "shelters" inside the village and families and children were encouraged to create fairies out of sticks, leaves and stones to leave in the village.
There were two families inside the village while I was there. One family had a couple of young children and they were busy making fairies. The other family was a couple in their late 50s who were very busy making the fairies!
These two photos show how the trail varies. In the first photo, the trail is rather obvious and more like a garden path. The second photo shows what most of the trail looks like. It is a little hard to follow, but very fun when you realize that you can't get lost.
There are foot bridges scattered throughout the trail. The bridges are all new and in great shape. They are rather unexpected, as there is no development along the trail. No statues, no trashcans, no benches.
The trail follows the shores of Lake Sunapee. And while the trail has access to sandy beaches, there are clear signs reminding people that it is a protected wildlife area and there is no swimming! The shoreline is untouched and beautiful.
At one point, the clouds covered the sky and the winds (from Earl) picked up. I thought that it was starting to downpour as I thought I heard rain. But, the winds were knocking branches and pine needles out of trees. It was a little exciting!
The Fells was established in 1891 as a summer retreat for the private secretary to Abraham Lincoln - John Milton Hay. He later became Secretary of State under presidents McKinely and Theodore Roosevelt. His son created gardens on the estate.
In 1972 the 164 acre estate was deeded to the US Fish & Wildlife Service and it was named the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge.
In 1992 The Fells opens as a State Historic Site. In 1996 volunteers form the nonprofit The Friends of The John Hay National Wildlife Refuge.
The Fells was beautiful. There was an $8 entrance fee (per adult). Membership is encouraged -$60 per year per family. There is staff as well as volunteers at the Fells. The grounds are truly beautiful and are well maintained without being overdone or "artificial looking" or forced.