Mill Pond Forest

Kay and Peter Shumway, Nancy Collier, Adair Mulligan, and Elisha and Anne Huggins stand by the new trailhead sign.
Kay and Peter Shumway, Nancy Collier, Adair Mulligan, and Elisha and Anne Huggins stand by the new trailhead sign.

Access to the marvelous trails on Moose Mountain’s south ridge is now permanently protected!  Conservation easements on the Mill Pond Forest and Huggins Trail Access are the very generous gifts of Kay and Peter Shumway and Elisha and Anne Huggins.

For years, these two families have built and maintained trails near Moose Mountain Lodge, welcoming the public to enjoy them by parking on their land and crossing their property to reach the trail network on the abutting Dana Pasture Natural Area (owned jointly by the Town and private heirs) and beyond.

MillPondForest-working 2015-11-11cropThe newly conserved Mill Pond Forest includes the north shore of Mill Pond, Hanover’s highest water body and the primary headwaters of Mink Brook as it spills from the pond and falls down the  mountainside through the conserved area. The easement also protects two early 19th century mill sites on impressively steep terrain. Equally impressive are resident beavers’ own dam-building skills. The Huggins Trail Access forever protects public use of the main foot trail.

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Snowshoe tracks lead across the Huggins Trail Access to the parking area at the top of Moose Mtn. Lodge Rd.

“This trail network is a well-known treasure,” observes Adair Mulligan, Executive Director of the Hanover Conservancy. “It connects hikers, snowshoers, and back-country skiers to some of the most beautiful woods and dramatic views in our region. We are deeply grateful that the landowners allowed the public to cross their property to enjoy these trails for so many years, and were willing to donate easements to ensure they will always be welcome here.”

“We are so happy to finally have found a way to conserve the mill and the pond,” Kay Shumway writes. “It would be such a shame to see this place changed.”

“The most important thing is to see people using the trails and enjoying being up there,” Elisha Huggins agreed. “I’d get comments from people, especially in fall, about how grateful they were that this existed in Hanover.” The easements will run with the land, ensuring that the forest, natural pond shoreline, and public trail access will remain forever.

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Beavers at Mill Pond. Photo by Kay Shumway

The newly protected land is the high, forested home of black bear, moose, bobcat, snowshoe hare, deer, fox, and beaver, offering a measure of refuge from climate change.  Mill Pond Forest adds 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 benefits brook trout and water quality as the stream flows toward Etna and on to the Conservancy’s Mink Brook Nature Preserve.

The Conservancy appreciates the many contributions that, with grants from the Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership and Elizabeth Parkhill Charitable Trust, helped fund the project’s costs.