The 380 acre Charles Henry & Mabel Lamborn Watts Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the great Ossipee River within five miles of its source, Ossipee Lake. Though the vast majority of the Sanctuary consists of extensive wetland complexes of the swamp, marsh, and heath fen that is characteristic of the Ossipee drainage, the sandy bank of the river offers high ground suitable for a trail. From this trail, one can view and explore the river for approximately one-third of a mile.
Yellow Markers, .8 miles round-trip, – approximately I hour.
Because of the swamp nature of the Sanctuary, there is but one trail, yellow-blazed and approximately 2,332 feet (0.44 mile) in length. Approximately a quarter mile of it followsa the sandy bank of the Ossipee River where one may see water birds such as Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Black Ducl, and mergamsers within the great views of this impressive, meandering river.
From the parking area, the trail passes, by a white pine forest through highbush blueberry and regenerating beech, red oak, gray birch, and hemlock for about 50 feet before coming to a low finger of often flooded wetland habitat. Log footbridges are there to help cross this 80-foot-wide section of red maple­ dominated swamp, which is characteristic of much of the Sanctuary. Wetland plants here include sedges, royal fern, cinnamon fern, marsh fern, meadowsweet, wiriterberry holly, maleberry, and speckled alder.
The next 610 feet of trail leads to the Ossipee River through sandy habitat somewhat reminiscent of a pine barren habitat; it is dominated by large white pine and some pitch pine and indudes red, black, and white oak. The rather sparse understory indudes lowbush blueberry, beech and balsam fir seedlings, braken fern, ground cedar, tree clubmoss, wintergreen, goldthread, blackberry, and partridgeberry.
Veer right (east) to stay on the trail when it reaches the river; to the left (west) leads to private property. The remaining quarter maile of trail follows the bank of the river and provides excellent views of it throughout.
Photo, top: view of the Ossipee River by Phil Brown.