Conservation Commission, Francestown, NH
Francestown residents and visitors are privileged to have these wonderful forests available to them for recreational uses - please help us keep them healthy for future generations.
No camp fires
Carry out what you carry in
Dogs on a leash
Respect abutting private property owners
If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Conservation Commission through the Town Office.
OUR TOWN FORESTS
Town forests are established by a vote of the town, and their purpose as defined by RSA 31:111 is “to encourage the proper management of timber, firewood and other natural resources through planting, timber stand improvement, thinning, harvesting, reforestation, and other multiple use programs consistent with the forest management program, any deed restrictions and any pertinent local ordinances or regulations.”
Francestown has six town forests totaling nearly 1500 acres. The Conservation Commission is responsible for the stewardship and management of these and has established guidelines for them based on a multiple-use policy. The concept of multiple-use provides for the preservation and enhancement of wildlife; promotion of recreational opportunities: preservation of cultural and historical features; promotion of educational programs; protection of wetlands and watersheds, and the management of forests to provide for the sustained production of timber. Because each forest has unique qualities not every goal will be applicable, and so goals and management plans are tailored specifically for each town forest. You may read the guidelines here.
All these forests are open to the public for non-motorized outdoor recreational uses, including hunting & fishing. It is recommended that all visitors wear some form of blaze orange clothing during hunting season – which runs essentially from October to mid December. All trails are maintained by volunteers, so please help out and carry out what you carry in. Dogs are allowed in most of the forests, but must be on a leash.
Lord Town Forest
Our first town forest, Caroline Lord conveyed this 25 acre lot to the Town in 1974 with the stipulation that it remain a permanent town forest under management of the Conservation Commission. It is primarily a mixed hardwood forest of beech and oak, with a smattering of hemlock. A small stream flows through the middle, and a pleasant walking trail meanders throughout. This forest is located on Ferson Road between New Boston Road (State Rt. 136) and Bible Hill Road. In this particular town forest hunting is limited to shotguns, muzzleloaders and bows. (Property map is available at Town Offices) Map can be viewed here.
The Crotched Mountain Town Forest
Our largest and most diverse Town Forest, this consists of 900 contiguous acres that extends from Farrington Road and Route 136 on the south side of Crotched Mt. to East Road over on the northern side of the mountain. It contains a wide variety of important wildlife habitat including; swamps, vernal pools, streams, open fields, ledges, rocky outcroppings, and a wide mix of forest cover types and age classes. Various wildlife habitat improvement projects have been initiated in this forest including field reclamation, creating wildlife openings in the forest, and planting of nut and fruit producing shrubs and trees.
Wildlife is abundant throughout this forest and some of the species that have been identified here include wild turkey, moose, whitetail deer, various hawks, barred owl, snowshoe hare, beaver, mink, fisher, porcupine, migratory waterfowl, black bear, bobcat, coyote, red fox, great blue heron, woodpeckers, and many species of songbirds, including the most lyrical veery and wood thrush.
Several hiking trails have been developed in this forest and a trailhead parking area is located on Farrington Rd, right off State Route 136 (also known as Greenfield Road). Scot’s Trail (named after former Conservation Commission Chair Scot Heath for his vital role in the protection of this important forest) is the original trail, and makes a loop of about 3 ½ miles over gentle terrain. The Summit Trail takes you to the top of the mountain over some fairly rough terrain, leading to gorgeous views. From the Summit Trail you can pick up other trails, including one that leads to the Crotched Mt. Rehabilitation and Education Center in Greenfield and another to the site of the old Fire Tower Town Forest on the north westerly end of the mountain. For more information check out the trail map which is generally available at the Town Office, Library, and at the trailhead kiosk.
Timber harvesting is periodically done in parts of this forest as part of the multiple-use plan, and at times this requires a temporary relocation or closure of trails. While they may be temporarily disruptive, these harvesting operations are an important element of our management program, including habitat management and timber stand improvement, and provide income for the proper stewardship of the forest as well as contributing towards conserving additional land.
The majority of trails are restricted to foot travel only, but the non-maintained (Class VI) town roads that intersperse this forest are suitable for snowmobiles and horses. Hunting is allowed and we encourage visitors to wear blaze orange during the hunting season (primarily November into December) Dogs are allowed on a leash, and to keep this a pleasant place for everyone, please clean up after them (remove it from the trail!). No Campfires.
Fire Tower Town Forest
On the highest peak of Crotched Mountain at what was formerly the site of the old fire tower, this town forest was deeded to the town in 1984 by the State of NH, shortly after the tower was torn down. This lot was conveyed to the town with the restriction that only the Town of Francestown may hold legal title, and that they hold it exclusively for public uses of town inhabitants. Conveyed with the property is the right to access it from Mountain Road. There are several trails leading to this site from Greenfield, Bennington and Francestown. A one-acre lot was purchased in 2002 from the Northfield Mt. Herman School and added to this Forest, and in 2005 fifty acres of adjacent town-owned land was annexed to the original lot per a former vote at town meeting, thereby creating a direct link to the Crotched Mt. Town Forest and essentially combining the two.
Driscoll Hill Town Forest
In 1989 this property was acquired from Charles Bowman “to be supervised and managed by the Conservation Commission”. This 53.6-acre forest is located off Driscoll Hill Road, a non-maintained town road that runs between Birdsall Rd. and Russell Station Rd. The forest is located near the crest of the hill and is accessed by a 600-foot long, 50 foot wide right-of- way. The forest cover here consists mostly of red oak with a small mix of other hardwood species and softwood. There are old cellar holes and some rather intriguing stonewall configurations on the property that arouse curiosity about the history of this place. There is presently one trail on this property, beginning at Driscoll Hill Road and following the right-of-way to the forest. This trail is called the Draper Farm Trail after the family who once lived on the premises. There is much evidence of moose and deer throughout this forest, and it is surrounded by many acres of other conservation land that is owned and managed by the Francestown Land Trust, Inc. (They have a trail on their land that leads right to the Draper Farm Trail – their forest and trail may be accessed from Old County Road South.)
Piscataquog River Town Forest
This 6-acre town forest lies to the North and East of the transfer station on Todd Road, and is accessed through the Transfer Station lot. The Piscataquog Watershed Association conveyed this property to the town in 1984, with restrictions prohibiting timber removal, filling or dumping and the erection of structures; there is also a requirement that public access be allowed for the study of conservation and nature. This lot is mostly all wetlands and there are no trails.
The Shattuck Pond Town Forest
This 418-acre forest is located between Pleasant Pond Road, Old County Road North, and the non-maintained Shattuck Pond Road. It may be accessed from any of these roads. This property consists of three separate lots that were purchased between 2003 and 2006 with funding from several grants, including the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund program and the NH Land & Community Heritage Investment Program. There are accompanying covenants with these grants which require that the land remain open to the public for outdoor recreational uses, and that it may not be converted for other purposes. This property contains many significant wetlands, includes some sensitive habitats, and over 5,000 feet of frontage on the pristinely beautiful 25-acre Shattuck Pond. A moderately easy walking trail of quiet scenic beauty begins at Pleasant Pond Road, right across from the Pleasant Pond Dam. Follow this trail until it forks at the pond; turn right and it ends at a scenic picnic spot; turn left and the trail snakes along the south side of the pond and eventually links you to the non-maintained Shattuck Pond Road. Shattuck Pond has long been a favorite picnic and camping spot for residents and visitors. Limited roadside parking is available near the trailhead on Pleasant Pond Road, and seasonally at an old logging landing off Old County Road North (it is unmarked – look for the access to this on the right, shortly after crossing the bridge) This is an important wildlife area and it is essential to keep dogs on a leash.
Dinsmore Brook Conservation Area (DBCA)
This 302 acre property is not a designated Town Forest, but is listed here as it is a significant Town-owned conservation property, and per NH RSA 36A it is managed by the Commission for conservation purposes. The first 220 acres was acquired in 2007 through a combined effort of the Conservation Commission, the Russell Foundation and the Francestown Land Trust. Another 80+ acres was added in 2010 – purchased from Mike and Jane Chase with assistance from a NH LCHIP grant and the Francestown Land Trust. A conservation easement on the property is held by the Francestown Land Trust.
Laced with a diversity of habitats including streams, swamps, beaver meadows, vernal pools, south facing slopes, rocky ledges, and several different types of forest stands, it helps support otter, mink, deer, bear, beaver, fisher, coyotes, hawks, owls, porcupines, warblers, vireos and thrushes, as well as many other wild creatures. There is an existing trail system on the property that was originally developed by the adjacent golf course and resort - these gently sloping trails make for wonderful cross country skiing, snow shoeing and walking.
There are two ways for the public to access the property, one is via a right of way off from the Second NH Turnpike North - turn onto Schoolhouse Road from Route 47, take the first sharp right turn onto the Turnpike, follow that a few hundred yards and look for the woods road on the left hand side. Park along the Turnpike or at the end of the woods road (do not block the woods road as we share access rights) and follow the signs along the path to the conservation area. (If signs are missing just follow the woods road, going straight past an entrance from the golf course rental units, then take the first right and keep following this woods road until you come to a small opening - stay to the right of the opening and look for a sharp right turn down a short slope – the property is just a short ways ahead. This (main) trail continues all the way through the property. The other access is from a trail through the Herman and Dorothy Miller Family Memorial Forest on Old County Road North. ~The trail head is located a half mile up from the intersection of Pleasant Pond Road – look for the map kiosk on the left. ~~It is 7/10 of a mile to where the new trail intersects with the main trail in the Dinsmore area. Dogs on a leash only.