dePierrefeu-Willard Pond Sanctuary

Directions

From Hancock Village go west 3.7 miles on Route 123 to Davenport Road on right. Go 1.6 miles, continuing along Willard Pond Road, and bearing left at fork, to parking lot.

Visit Google Maps to see the location and get directions.

About

At nearly 1700 acres, the dePierrefeu-Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is New Hampshire Audubon’s largest property. Much of the land owned by NHA has come about through the foresight and generosity of Elsa dePierrefeu Leland and her family. Additional gifts, easements, and adjacent protected lands bring NHA’s lands in the vicinity to about 3,000 acres, and part of a “supersanctuary” that totals over 10,000 acres of protected land. There are several outstanding features of this sanctuary which make it a particularly enjoyable visit. Willard Pond, a beautiful and pristine body of water, is about 100 acres in size. Surrounding the pond are large hills, including Bald Mountain and Goodhue Hill, which have trails to their summits. Huge boulders deposited by receding glaciers, a diverse mixture of tree and plant species, and an abundance of wildlife make this sanctuary a unique and attractive area.

Trails

Mill Pond Trail

Yellow blazes, approximately ½ mile loop, easy

The Mill Pond Trail circles the Hatch Mill Pond, which was originally dammed to provide water power for the Hatch Sawmill. In addition to White Pine and Eastern Hemlock, a mix of hardwoods typical of the area including White Ash, Paper Birch, Red Maples, and bog-loving shrubs can be found along this trail. Beavers and otters are often seen foraging in this pond, and wood ducks, mallards, and geese nest here. Half-way around the mill pond is the start of the Goodhue Hill Trail (blazed in red).

Take caution in crossing bridges and rock fords when conditions are wet.

Goodhue Hill Trail

Red blazes, approximately 1 mile, moderate

Goodhue Hill sits above Willard Pond’s southeastern shore and is a prominent feature of the sanctuary. The Goodhue Hill Trail is reached via the south side of the Mill Pond loop trail. The trail is a steady, but in some places, steep, climb to a hilltop with great views in several directions. Recent patch cuts of about 15-acres in size near the summit have been created to provide early successional habitat, which will provide food and cover for mammals and birds like deer, turkey, and grouse. Moose sign is often found along the Goodhue Hill Trail. Typical forest birds of the area such as thrushes, vireos, warblers, and woodpeckers can be found along this trail during warmer months. At the end of the one-way trail is the summit of Goodhue Hill and its rocky southeastern face that provides habitat for numerous animals including the elusive bobcat.

Tudor Trail

Yellow blazes, approximately 1 mile, easy

The relatively flat Tudor Trail affords several wonderful opportunities to observe to observe Willard Pond. Look closely for Hooded Mergansers, Wood Ducks and Common Loons – which often nest near the pond’s edge. At a left fork is the start of the red-blazed Bald Mountain Trail; bearing right continues on the Tudor Trail and eventually, the scenic Pine Point on the northern end of the pond.

Bald Mountain Trail

Red blazes, approximately ¾ mile, strenuous

The Bald Mountain Trail is the steepest access point to the Bald Mountain ledges, and can be combined to form a loop with the Tamposi Trail and Tudor Trail. Near the junction with the Tudor Trail, an impressive ledge of boulders deposited by receding glaciers can be seen along the left side of the trail. After the boulders, the trail veers sharply to the left, away from the pond, to begin the steep climb to the summit. The hike to the ledges is well worthwhile for its spectacular view of Willard Pond and the Monadnock Region, but this spot can also be accessed via the Tamposi Trail.

Tamposi Trail

Yellow blazes, approximately 1 ¾ miles (including loop of Bald Mountain), strenuous

The Tamposi Trail is the longest and most popular hiking trail at Willard Pond. It climbs steadily through northern hardwood forest and crosses several stone walls that indicate former pasture use. Some large boulder formations are visible along the trail, and there is often porcupine activity noticeable in this area. Upon reaching mixed stands of conifers after about ¾ mile, the Tamposi Trail splits. Stay right for the quickest route to the Bald Mountain ledges (best view of Willard Pond), where the trail becomes steep (and can be slippery!) just prior to arrival there. If you’re feeling ambitious, return to the parking area via the Bald Mountain Trail and Tudor Trail, or continue to the forested Bald Mountain summit (great ledge views along this scenic trail). Stay left at the Tamposi Trail loop for a steady climb through mature Red Spruces to the summit and return via the loop trail. The Spur Trail begins just a short distance from the left loop.

Spur Trail

Blue blazes, approximately 1 ¼ mile (including short summit loop), moderate

The Spur Trail traverses the 376-acre Tamposi parcel, which was protected by NH Audubon and its partners in 2006. It is the least traveled of the sanctuary’s trails. The State of NH – Forest Legacy Program holds a conservation easement on this land and oversees its management. This trail has moderate elevation change and is the most remote part of the property. Much of the trail is surrounded by early successional forest habitat due to recent forest management. This habitat protects bird species like prairie and chestnut-sided warblers, Eastern towhee, and others, many of which are declining. An old apple orchard is being managed by removing competing overstory trees which are shading them out and reducing their fruit production. This unique feature attracts much attention from mammals like bear, deer, and raccoon in late summer and fall. From the trail’s end, two clearings provide excellent 180-degree views in each direction.