Hiking Trails & Open Spaces
Like much of the Monadnock Region, Peterborough has a wealth of beautiful natural landscapes, many of which are accessible for public enjoyment and recreation in all seasons. Whether you're an experienced outdoor trekker or entirely new to hiking, there's a Peterborough trail waiting for you.
Click here to view the Peterborough Conservation Commission Trail Guide, which is an excellent resource for those looking to explore the best trails Peterborough has to offer. Click here for more information about our very active Conservation Commission.
See below for more information about Peterborough's numerous trail offerings. The fascinating conservation histories of many of the below areas can be found on the 'Conservation Success Stories' section of the History of the Open Space Committee page.
Administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, this facility is named after the famous composer and concert pianist, Edward Alexander MacDowell. In 1907 his wife, Marian, established the MacDowell Colony for artists. Encompassing 1,198 acres, MacDowell Dam provides ample space for hiking, picnicking, fishing, equestrian trails, biking, and boating. Sheltered picnic area and playground make it great for families. Day use only. Free admission.Casalis Forest
Managed by the division of Fish and Game, hunting is allowed on the 228 acres of Casalis Forest, so visitors are asked to wear plenty of orange for their safety during hunting seasons. There is a large pond for anglers and swimming dogs. The woods are some of the most peaceful and pleasing in the area. The trails connect with Temple Mountain trails and, if you are lucky and energetic, you can find your way over to the Wapack Trail system. Four wheelers are not allowed on the trails. You can access the park from Route 123 - Take Route 123 South from Route 101. After passing Bass Road on your left, watch for the sign on your left.Miller State Park
Miller State Park was established in 1891 as a memorial to General James Miller, hero of the Battle of Lundy's Lane in the War of 1812. Visitors can use the scenic auto road to reach the summit of Pack Monadnock Mountain (elev. 2,290'). Various picnic sites and walking and hiking trails, and outstanding views of Mount Monadnock and the entire region - on a clear day, you can even see the Boston skyline. Entrance is off NH Route 101, about 3 miles east of downtown Peterborough.
Wapack National Wildlife Refuge
This mostly timbered area is situated on 1,672 acres of North Pack Monadnock Mountain (northeast of Miller State Park) and contains a bog, swamp, bare rock ledge and cliff, and is a popular hawk migration area. The Wapack Refuge is known to be a great place for wildlife observation, photography, hiking, ski touring, and snowshoeing. No camping or open fires allowed. The Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Sudbury, MA.
The Raymond Trail
The Raymond Trail is a moderate to rugged 1.6-mile climb up the west side of Pack Monadnock. Near the summit, the trail joins the 21-mile ridgeline Wapack Trail. There is limited parking at the trailhead on East Mountain Road, .9 mile north off Route 101. A larger parking area for the Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail is a short distance farther along, and that trail connects to the Raymond Trail by a short link.Cranberry Meadow Bog Trail
The Monadnock Conservancy and local forester Swift Corwin worked with private landowners to create the 2.6-mile Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail—a key missing link in their vision for a town-to-summit trail from downtown Peterborough to the Pack Monadnock summit. Cranberry Meadow Trail links with the Raymond Trail for a moderately strenuous 4.5-mile town-to-summit hike. Many hikers choose a shorter option: Cranberry Meadow Trail from Old Street Road to East Mountain Road, 2.2-miles along wetland and winding brook, through hemlock and oak forests. That section is on private properties courtesy of the landowners. Accordingly, please stay on the trail. A trail guide is available and posted at the kiosk on Old Street Road. Directions to the East Mountain Road parking area: from the intersection of state Route 101 and state Route 202 in Peterborough, follow state Route 101 2.2 miles. Turn left onto Cunningham Pond Road. Continue about 1.3 miles. At the T‐intersection, turn left onto East Mountain Road and continue 0.4 miles. The parking area is on the right.
Cunningham Pond Conservation Area Trails
The Monadnock Conservancy opened the Cunningham Pond Conservation Area Trails to the public in 2020. The Peterson Trail (.3 mi) starts from a parking area on Cunningham Pond Road near Old Mountain Road. From there it traverses through rolling woodlands to an intersection where there is a choice between the Cunningham Pond Loop Trail and a trail (.75 mi) through the Goyette Natural Area, another Conservancy property. The Cunningham Pond Loop Trail (.65 mi) climbs to a large hay field with sweeping views of Pack Monadnock and Temple Mountain. From the field, a spur winds down to an old carriage road (.33 mi) along the pond’s edge that will bring you back to the Cunningham Pond Loop Trail and then to the Peterson trail. Along the trails, you can find trees with woodpecker holes, mushrooms, and moss-covered rocks amidst the sounds of the stream and birds flitting above.Sheiling Forest
The trailhead is near the Forestry Learning Center on Old Street Road, just north of the intersection with Sand Hill Road. Forest loop trails pass a variety of natural and man-made sites, including a wildflower garden maintained by the Peterborough Garden Club, the remains of a granite quarry and of a brickyard, and a collection of huge "glacial erratics" (boulders deposited by the retreating glacier). The 45-acre property and buildings were donated to the state by author and long-time Peterborough resident Elizabeth Yates McGreal.
The 6.5-mile Common Pathway begins at the Noone Falls area in south Peterborough and follows the Contoocook River corridor north by a combination of the old rail bed, sidewalks through the downtown area, and two highway underpasses. There are parking areas on Summer Street and along Route 202N where the Pathway connects with the. The Pathway offers easy walking on level terrain, and the paved portion (Noone Falls north to Southfield Lane) is plowed by the town in winter.Wheeler Trail
Close to downtown, this gem of a trail offers a short loop hike over easy terrain. Named for Coburn Wheeler, Conservation Commission chair from 1978 to 1989, the trail meanders through mature forest along Wallace Brook and has an open-field spur to a small pond (skating in winter), and links with Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail. Look for an old-growth white pine near the larger, upstream bridge. Limited parking, map, and trail book can be found at the trailhead, which is located on Route 101, .7 mile east of the Route 101/202 traffic lights.
The trailhead and parking are just beyond the Town Recycling Center on Scott Mitchell Road, off Route 202N. The trail follows the old B&M Railroad bed along the Contoocook River corridor well into Hancock (2.7 miles to Forest Road). It offers flat terrain for jogging and cross-country skiing, as well as a scenic riverside ramble.
Conservation of the trail was a project of the Peterborough and Hancock Conservation Commissions, the Harris Center, and New Hampshire Fish & Game, and land was donated by the Walcott family.
A mix of habitat types provides an outstanding variety of plants and wildlife, accessed by a trail through open field and forest (172 acres; 2 miles out and back). The trailhead is located on Old Jaffrey Road, half-a-mile from Route 202 at Noone Falls. Park well off the pavement on the old farm road that parallels the open field (near mailbox #100). The trail guide in the mailbox at the trailhead gives land history and highlights.
Evans Flats Trail
Trail head and kiosk are at the Evans Road cul-de-sac off of Elm Street. Volunteers mapped and cleared this 1.6-mile, mostly-forested trail along Nubanusit Brook lowlands. Blue blazes mark the main loop trail and orange blazes ark a midway shortcut option. Watch for signs of the land's farming history as you explore the trail. It's rough underfoot at times, and waterproof footwear is recommended during wet periods.
Hiroshi Hayashi Conservation Land Trail
A 1.6 mile loop begins in an open field before entering the forest grown up along old farm roads. A scenic section along Nubanusit Brook leads to a northernmost viewpoint across wide wetlands. Via two cable bridges or a pull-along skiff , hikers can cross Nubanusit Brook to access Sargent Center trails. The Harris Center for Conservation Education with help from Peterborough's land conservation fund purchased the 109-acre property in 2014. It's named after longtime owner and well-known chef Hiroshi Hayashi, honoring his deep connection to the land. The trailhead is located on Route 137, 2 miles north of Route 101 and the Citgo station at Carr's Store. A parking area is located across the street from the mailbox labeled 433.
Created by the Peterborough Recreation Department on land donated by the Seccombe family, this short woodland trail starts near the Adams Playground pool on Union Street and leads uphill past the old Seccombe family cemetery. William Seccombe, a sea captain who served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Spanish-American War, is buried there, and gravestones also honor a son and daughter who perished along with 1,196 others when the Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine in 1915.
Clubby Scott - Class VI Road
Roads that served a town well in its early history often are discontinued when getting to the grist mill or ice house, or transporting farm produce to the railroad, is no longer required—or the town center moves from a hilltop, where the growing season is longer, to a river dammed to create power as manufacturing replaces agriculture. Often old roads are given up by town meeting vote, thereby reverting to adjacent landowners, but some are not given up and remain public pathways known as “Class VI” roads.
Clubby Scott, named for Alexander Scott who had a club foot (and was a shoemaker), runs between Middle Hancock Road and Windy Row, offering one of the longer Class VI walks that includes possible connection to trails at MacDowell Dam. When selectmen considered discontinuing the road, there was successful protest. Future generations benefitted as a very scenic pathway remained open to the public on foot or snowmobile.