Celebrating Mink Brook’s 15th Anniversary
Fifteen years ago, the wild forest we know as the Mink Brook Nature Preserve was slated to become a residential subdivision. We celebrated this happy change of fate for the mink, bears, and human neighbors of the brook on Sunday, August 24 with family-friendly festivities with children’s activities, visits from special community members, and (best of all) – Mink Tracks Gelato, concocted for us by our friends at Morano Gelato. See photos of the event HERE.
Restoring Native Floodplain Forest
After three years’ work to control invasive buckthorn, honeysuckle, barberry, and Japanese knotweed that had overrun the floodplain at Mink Brook, we replanted with 2000 native trees and shrubs. The species selected are well-adapted to water level changes and offer excellent food and cover for birds and other wildlife. Silver and red maple, red osier dogwood and elderberry, and others will occupy the space formerly taken by invasives. For a few years, they’ll remain protected by mesh sleeves against the efforts of hungry beavers and deer.
Thanks to our volunteers, including the Hanover Lions Club, who worked alongside our forester, Ehrhard Frost of Full Circle Forestry, and his crew. The project is supported by a cost-share grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and a generous gift from the Hanover Lions Club. Thanks also to Hanover/Norwich Youth in Action for checking on the plantings, pulling garlic mustard, and improving trail surfaces.
Bio-engineering at Mink Brook
When Tropical Storm Irene blasted through our region a few years ago, it altered the path of Mink Brook here in the preserve, most visibly just above the log bridge. The stream abandoned one channel and the force of the current moved north, creating new erosion that we have monitored ever since. In 2014, we installed a “bio-engineering” project to restore stream-side habitat and slow erosion. In April, our volunteers cut stakes of live willow at Birch Meadow Farm in Fairlee (a riverfront farm conserved by the Upper Valley Land Trust) and kept them dormant in a snowbank on the north side of a Lyme barn. Weeks later, when conditions were right, the stakes were driven into the eroded streambank. They are now beginning to sprout! Their roots and shoots should help knit the bank together, protecting water quality by settling sediment, reducing erosion, and shading the water to keep it cool, and providing habitat for perching birds and cover for brook trout – naturally.
About Mink Brook Nature Preserve
This 112-acre preserve protects habitat for wild brook trout, bears, and many other creatures, while offering trails and quiet enjoyment of a peaceful place. This preserve is the result of deep generosity and community spirit. Substantial gifts from Dartmouth College and Brian and Allie Quinn, acknowledging the significance of this place to the Abenaki, joined 450 other gifts to protect the land in 1999. The Upper Valley Land Trust collaborated with our organization to purchase the land and now holds the conservation easement. The preserve links other protected lands — the Angelo Tanzi Tract and Mink Brook West, owned by the Town of Hanover, and UVLT’s brook-side parcel.
Mink Brook Nature Preserve offers a natural retreat just south of downtown Hanover. The predominant natural community is upland forest composed of white pine and hemlock. The property features two brooks. The smaller of these is Trout Brook, which winds northward to join Mink Brook. Mink Brook is a direct tributary to the Connecticut River. Many of the paths within the Preserve parallel Mink Brook and pass by pool and riffle areas of this dynamic boulder filled watercourse. The preserve has a fascinating history, and hosts black bears, wild brook trout, waterfowl, and other wildlife. Its plant community is also of interest.
Trails Download the trail map
The property offers a variety of walking terrain. The easy terrain of Quinn Trail is accessible to both strollers and wheelchairs and links up with the trails in the Tanzi Tract, a preserve of the Town of Hanover. On the south side of Mink Brook, wooded hiking trails link up with trails to preserved land in Lebanon.
The preserve is open to the public for foot travel at all seasons. Please help protect water quality in Mink Brook by picking up after your pet and removing the waste. Pets must be under the direct control of their owners and not chase wildlife. Plants should be left growing in place. Fishing is permitted; trapping and hunting are not. No fires or camping, please.
Why no bikes? – To protect an area significant to Native Americans and to maintain wildlife habitat and water quality, Mink Brook Nature Preserve was created with the understanding that trails would be open only for foot travel. A bicycle rack is provided at the Brook Road gate.
About the trails – The Quinn Trail runs along the north side of the brook and connects trails west of Route 10 with Route 120. Grades are gentle with a few moderate slopes. Across the log bridge, the Wheelock Trail heads east to Buck Road on a sometimes narrow, rocky path, and west to Route 10. The red-blazed Indian Ridge Trail and orange-blazed Sachem Connector Trail lead south into Lebanon and can be difficult to follow after leaving the preserve. In 2011, we worked with the Town to create a new footpath linking trails on the west side of Route 10 with the Quinn Trail on the Preserve. Find this link near the corner of Brook Road and Route 10, just east of the small utility building.
What to Do: Mink Brook Quest!
Explore the Mink Brook Nature Preserve through the imaginative treasure hunt that is the Mink Brook Quest, created by the ValleyQuest program of Vital Communities. Bring along a compass and field guide to help you solve the clues.
How to get there
From Route 10 in Hanover, turn onto Brook Road just north of the bridge over Mink Brook. Parking is available in the pulloff by the trailhead on Brook Road. Walk through the gate to the kiosk just up the path.
Spectacular Mink Brook Crossing
A dramatic single-plank suspension bridge connects the Quinn Trail with the trails on the southern portion of the property, including trails to Buck Road in Hanover, and Lebanon’s Sachem Village and Indian Ridge.
The bridge, built in 2009, would not have been possible without strong community support for the Conservancy throughout the planning and construction. Thank you to all of our volunteers: the Mink Brook Stewardship Committee, the Quinn family, Chippers, Tahawus Trails, Upper Valley Land Trust, and the National Park Service’s Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program.