This ‘forever wild’ sanctuary contains nearly 100 acres of important wetland habitats, much of which can be viewed from a short boardwalk trail system that meets accessibility standards. An abundance of wildlife – including over 200 species of birds, numerous turtles, frogs and mammals, and an astounding abundance of invertebrates – can be seen from its trails.
The 303-acre wildlife sanctuary is located between the Sandwich Range to the northwest and the Ossipee Mountains to the southeast. Until the early 1900’s, much of the area was cleared and utilized as a hay farm. Today much of the sanctuary has reverted to forest and wetlands. Atwood Brook, a tributary of the Bearcamp River, meanders through the middle of the sanctuary. The marsh and meadows that are found along the brook add to the beauty and diversity of the property.
Charles G. Thompson, of S. Tamworth, donated the original 150 acres of the sanctuary to NH Audubon in 1976. He chose the name of the property in memory of his wife. In 1979, Frank and Rose Church, of Portsmouth, donated an additional 66 acres. The Quimby Fund, a private trust set up by Alfred Quimby for the benefit of the Town of Sandwich and its residents, has also supported the sanctuary through additional conservation and stewardship. In 2014, NH Audubon donated a ‘forever wild’ conservation easement on the sanctuary to the Northeast Wilderness Trust, who will ensure that the conservation values will be forever protected.
Note that parking here (as with other sanctuaries) is limited, and roadside parking is discouraged. When mud season conditions pass in May, the Wilderness Trail (accessed via Middle Road) is recommended for a longer woodland walk.
The Fred Steele Memorial Trail is a short walk beginning at this kiosk and traversing wetland habitats surrounding Atwood Brook. The entire trail, including a 300-foot boardwalk and terminal observation platform is ADA wheelchair accessible and offers wildlife and scenic viewing.
Another access point exists along Middle Road to the south, thanks to generous neighbors and friends of NH Audubon. Follow Rt. 113 south through North Sandwich and take a left on Middle Road. Parking is available at #148/150 Middle Road (follow local signage). Here, a trail provides foot access through privately-owned conservation land (same Usage Guidelines apply here) to the Wilderness Trail, a 1-mile forested loop within the Sanctuary. The trail features old growth trees, a variety of forested and wetland habitats, and has limited views of Atwood Brook.