The mission of the Tin Mountain Conservation Center is “to promote an appreciation of the environment among children, families, and the community through hands-on programs in the schools, at camp, and in the community.”
This place is only 2 miles from our home. How have I not checked this place out already!?
Alex and I started at the Nature Learning Center off of Bald Hill Rd in Albany, NH. This beautiful eco-friendly building boosts a Nature Library, an impressive collection of preserved mammals (Alex likes the bear that greets you at the door and a large bobcat further in), and a large function room used for educational programs and events.
Tin Mountain Conservation Center
After obtaining a map of the Rockwell Sanctuary we hit the trail. From TMC’s website, “The Sanctuary also boasts a fully preserved ca. 1800 barn, an extensive trail system, a four-acre pond, numerous unique plant species, and a small granite quarry active from 1885-1890.”
Tin Mountain Conservation Center & Rockwell Sanctuary
There are about 5 miles of trails on the 138 acre protected land, and they are broken into shorter loop hikes and trails with easy to follow color coded animal trail markers. This made the “find the next blaze” game I play with Alex all the more entertaining. I had a couple of hours and wanted to get as much in as possible so decided to do an “outer-loop” run counter-clockwise around the map.
We cruised south along the “Yellow Beaver” trail before descending down and turning right onto the blue “Bear Tree Loop” trail. We turned east and followed it all the way to the Quarry. Alex demanded I carry us up to the top of a tall stack of quarried blocks, which I was happy to oblige. Here there was a distinct lack of trail markers on an otherwise heavily marked trail. After some snooping I decided to follow the obvious boundary line north and came back into the network on that little unmarked trail about 500 feet north of the Quarry. I could see looking back south the Blue Bear trail would be easier to follow if going clock-wise.
We soon turned right on the yellow “Quarry Trail”. Alex really liked the pick-axe on each marker though I could not convince him it was not a shovel. I intended to stay on this trail until getting to the orange “Frog Leap Loop” but when Alex saw trail signs with sandwiches on them, the aptly named “Lunch Rock Trail” he was adamant we change course. Giving up my goal of a circumnavigation of the area we headed up the Lunch Rock Trail and decided to break at the open Lunch Rock area for a snack and a leg stretch.
After a diaper change Alex wanted to hike a bit on his own. The trail ahead had just a bit too much underbrush for his comfort though so I loaded him back into the pack with a promise he could explore once we reached some more open terrain. Finishing the short Lunch Rock Trail we turned right on the red “Maple Leaf Loop” and made our way towards the 4 acre Chase Pond. Soon after turning onto the orange “Frog Leap Loop” we saw the pond through the trees and came across an impressive beaver dam at its outlet.
We crossed the outlet just downstream over a small wooden bridge and turned right onto the blue “Owl Prowl” trail.
Bridges and trail signs
Alex was starting to tire so I decided to save the north most loop trail for another visit and we turned in towards the pond on the red “Stoney’s Spur”. This short bit of trail was definitely one of our favorites and we really slowed down to enjoy it. Alex quickly spotted the two Canadian Geese and exclaimed “Ducks! Ducks!”
Frog’s and Canadian Geese on Chase Pond
Harder for him to see were the dozens of large frogs milling about in the pond flora around these boardwalk. Some were quite large and I wished I had brought one of the nets the offer at the center for interactive exploring. Next time…
Hard enough for me to see them
Alex was anxious to walk himself and I was happy to get him out of the pack. The boardwalks were perfect and he showed great awareness if they went over water. We passed some obvious beaver activity…
Exploring outside the kid carrier
Soon we had rounded the northern tip of the pond and were turning onto the yellow “Chestnut-Sided” trail to return to the center.
We got back to the parking lot 1 hour and 45 minutes from leaving, having completing an exact 2.0 mile loop. Before heading home Alex got to meet a resident dog named Sage (due to her being too smart), as well as the Public Relations Manager Donna and for a brief moment the Executive Director, Michael Kline.
Our route today
I feel very lucky to have such an amazing resource so close to home to help us instill the sense of awe and wonder in nature that we all know is important to a balanced life-style. I’m also hoping to find some ways to be more involved with the organization, through membership and perhaps sharing some educational content like my Wilderness Navigation course I teach through EMS Schools. If you live in the area and haven’t made it over to this place do yourself a favor and make time. It’s a great place with great people and a definite gem for our community!
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