In 1931, Samuel Myron Chase left to a trust fund sixty-three acres of wooded land in the town of Hopkinton. Chase’s death in that year “brought to an end the direct ‘male line of one of the community’s oldest and wealthiest families,” according to a 1931 issue of New Hampshire Audubon.
Samuel Chase had a life-long interest in and concern for wildlife and wished his land to be held in trust as a greenbelt around the town of Hopkinton, “where the axe – of the lumberman shall never ring again, and where New Hampshire bird life, wildflowers, and animals shall be protected in perpetuity.” The seed he planted has led to steady growth of the sanctuary, which, with the most recent donation in 1995, is approximately 550 acres today.
Combining the Chase sanctuary with other protected lands in Hopkinton, the “greenbelt” Chase envisioned those many decades ago is slowly coming to fruition. In 1997, the Trustees of the Chase Trust determined that the best long-term strategy for the management of the sanctuary would best be accomplished by the Audubon Society of New Hampshire”. The land was subsequently transferred to ASNH with the original provisions and stipulations for its care intact.
Chase Trail: yellow markers
Loops: red markers
This trail is the longest in the sanctuary. It runs from Jewett Road through the forest and ends at the marsh. To return to Jewett Road you must retrace your steps. The trail winds through several young mixed forests – you will see white pine (including several large, older specimens), hemlock, maple, and other hardwoods. The trail is also home to many fern species, including Christmas, cinnamon, and royal ferns. Other things you might see on the Chase -Trail include:
Wildflowers: Jewelweed (also called “Touch-me-not”), Canada mayflower, starflower.
Tracks: Tracks frequently seen along the Chase Trail include white-tailed deer, moose, otter, and red squirrel. Look for tracks in the mud or snow.
Birds: The sanctuary is home to many of the state’s woodland birds, such as·ovenbird, thrushes, chickadees, and nuthatches. Warblers and grouse are often spotted in the young saplings near the Will Brown and Voydatch Loops, and the marsh is a great spot for seeing many duck~ and other water birds, as well as beaver, dragonflies, and other marsh residents.
For the best views of the marsh, three overlook loops can be accessed by the Chase Trail:
The Fred Pilch Loop can be found on the Chase Trail a short distance from Jewett Road. This short loop takes you to a lookout on the edge of the beaver meadow.
The Will Brown and Voydatch Loops, located near the end of the Chase Trail, take you to several overlooks on the edge of the marsh. The Voydatch Loop is especially good as a place to watch succession in progress, as there are a variety of stages to be seen, from lichen to forest. There is also blueberry and boneset.
Stack Brook Trail: red markers
The Stack Book Trail begins and ends from the Chase Trail a short distance from the Fred Pilch Loop; The Stack Brook Trail follows .Stack Brook upstream over an area of rocky ground to a crossing at an old ford and bridge. The trail then follows the brook back down to rejoin the Chase Trail. Walking conditions are a little rocky and wet, so care should be taken. Things to look for on the Stack Brook Trail might include frogs and fungi (especially shelf fungi), as well as wildflowers such as rattlesnake plantains and baneberry.
Brown Robinson Trail: red markers
The Brown Robinson Trail begins on Jewett Road about a 1/4 mile south of the Chase Trail trailhead. This relatively short trail takes you to the edge of the marsh to a huge beaver .dam. It includes several views of the marsh, including a particularly fine view at the end of the trail. It affords good opportunities to -spot waterfowl, turtles, or frogs. Goldthread and bottle gentian can be found along the trail and jewelweed, boneset, water lilies, and other wildflowers can be seen at the dam. To return to Jewett Road, follow the logging road straight back from the dam. Note: The Brown Robinson Trail includes sections on private property. Please stay on the trail and logging road.
The New Hampshire Audubon offers multiple opportunities for those interested in joining us as a member or donating for one of our various causes.
Founded in 1914, NH Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. NH Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on NH Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit www.nhaudubon.org.