Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

1,793 Acres
5.5 Miles of Trails
Antrim/Hancock, NH

At 1,793 acres, the dePierrefeu-Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is NH Audubon’s largest property. Much of the land has been protected because of the foresight and generosity of Elsa Tudor dePierrefeu Leland, who made the initial gift of land to National Audubon in 1962, and her successors. Outstanding features include Willard Pond, a pristine body of water of about 100 acres, home to nesting loons among other charismatic wildlife, trails to the summits of surrounding Bald Mountain and Goodhue Hill, huge glacial boulders, and an abundant diversity of plant and wildlife species.

This largest of NH Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries has a diversity of trails and experiences, but the commonality across all of them is an abundance of exposed granite. Large granite boulders that dot the sanctuary’s trails make for endless fascination. Search for porcupine scat and the occasional phoebe nest tucked in a sheltered spot. For a water view, the Mill Pond Trail is a short walk with two stream crossings that may yield views of Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers feeding on the pond. The sanctuary’s most popular hike – Bald Mountain via the Tamposi Trail – is a regional favorite, and provides endless visibility to the south and east, a vantage point that is great for spring hawk watching.

Additional gifts, easements, and adjacent protected lands bring NH Audubon protected lands in the vicinity to about 3,000 acres, part of the 20,000+acre “super sanctuary” in which this property sits.

The Value of A Sacred Place

Elsa Tudor dePierrefeu was a pacifist who saw the value of sacred places and the protection of wildlife. In 1967, she gifted 650 acres of land on Willard Pond’s western shore to ensure there would be a place where animals would not be harmed, planting the seed of the dePierrefeu-Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. This land became the heart of 30,000-acre ‘Supersanctuary’ of lands protected by NH Audubon and other partners.
Today, the Sanctuary is still an important and sacred place to many people who enjoy its scenic vistas, seek solitude on the water or on the trails. It continues to support ecological processes that innumerable plant and animal species depend on.

Photos, from top: Willard Pond, by Phil Brown; the view toward the caretaker’s cabin across the Mill Pond, by Phil Brown.