The Hanover Conservancy has an exciting opportunity to protect public access to a much-loved network of foot trails on Moose Mountain. The landowners have generously offered to donate conservation easements on their lands if the Conservancy can raise the funds needed to ensure the properties’ permanent protection into the future.
UPDATE: WE REACHED OUR GOAL! With help from many people who love the Moose Mountain trails, plus boosts from the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership and the Elizabeth Parkhill Charitable Trust, we reached our $20,000 goal on 5/29/2015!
When Moose Mountain Lodge was built in 1938, a series of adventurous families brought outdoor recreation to the southern brow of Hanover’s iconic mountain ridge. With permission of the Dana family, owners of the neighboring ridge-top forest and pasture, they created trails for their guests and the public to enjoy at all seasons.
Today, this trail network has become a public treasure, threading through the entire Moose Mountain ridge, linking to the Appalachian Trail and connecting hikers, snow-shoers, and back-country skiers to some of the most beautiful woods and dramatic views in the region.
The land is now jointly owned by the Town of Hanover and the Dana heirs, but its trails can be reached only by crossing the private lands at the top of Moose Mountain Lodge Road now proposed for protection.
High Elevation Habitat
The Conservancy is working with two families to protect both the primary trailhead and parking for the nearby trail network (to be known as the Huggins Trail Access) and the Mill Pond Forest, a 33-acre parcel embracing it and the north half of Mill Pond. This, the highest body of water in Hanover, is the primary source of Mink Brook, which tumbles out of a beaver dam and down the mountainside past the remains of an early 19th century mill. This parcel includes the north entrance for the trail network and other paths that connect to the AT. Just south of the Mill Pond Forest is the 235-acre Baum Conservation Area, with its own network of trails.
The land proposed for protection is the high, forested home of black bear, moose, bobcat, snowshoe hare, deer, fox, and beaver, among many others. Protecting Mill Pond Forest will add valuable wooded shoreline and upland habitat to the 2,345 contiguous acres of already protected forestland on Moose Mountain north of the pond. Protecting Mink Brook’s headwaters will benefit brook trout and water quality as the stream flows toward Etna.
The Conservancy’s easements will eliminate the threat of conversion to development and loss of public access. Without permanent protection, at least one seasonal home could be built on the property, and there is no guarantee that future owners would permit the public to cross these lands to reach nearby trails. The easements will run with the land, ensuring that the forest, natural pond shoreline, and public trail access will remain forever.
Moose Mountain, a strategic focus area for the Hanover Conservancy, has been the target of dedicated conservation effort for years, beginning with the corridor of the Appalachian Trail. Most recently, the Conservancy acquired the 92-acre Mayor-Niles Forest abutting this corridor, adding to the large protected block of Hanover’s highest elevation lands and expanding this refuge for wildlife in the face of climate change. Just south of the Dana Forest and Pasture is the 235-acre Baum Conservation Area, with its own network of connecting trails.
The far-sighted landowners have generously agreed to donate these conservation easements if we can raise $20,000 for surveying, stewardship, and other related project costs. Grants from the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership and Elizabeth Parkhill Charitable Trust have set us on our way. Please consider a gift to help make this project a reality .