December 4, 2016: Weeks Woods

On a beautiful day like today, how could you not spend at least a little time outside? Even though I had laundry and other things to tackle around the house today, I made sure to squeeze in a little hike first thing this morning. Well, more of a walk in the woods as opposed to a hike. I’ve been meaning to check out Weeks Woods (sometimes called Weeks Forest) for some time now, and today seemed like the perfect day.

Weeks Woods is a property managed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Used as sheep pasture in the 1800s, and partly cow pasture in the mid-20th century, the land now serves as a recreational area in addition to being managed for occasional timber harvests. The most recent timber harvest was just completed this fall.

The two trails through the property (yellow blazed lower loop and blue blazed upper loop) are well marked and very easy to follow. The footbed of the trail is mostly dirt with occasional rocks and roots. I imagine it would be good for an easy trail run. It’s also a great place for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter, from what I have read. Elevation gain is very minimal, only a couple hundred feet.

I followed the yellow trail straight ahead from the entrance to the log landing area. From here, I made a counter-clockwise loop, following the eastern side of the Lower Loop trail to the eastern end of the Upper Loop trail. Near this end of the Upper Loop trail is a picture post – which utilizes user-uploaded photos to monitor environmental changes to an area over time.

Continuing further along the Upper Loop trail, I eventually reached a spot marked as a scenic view on the trail map. It was a nice view over large fields, but not a sweeping view of the mountains as I’d hoped. Descending the western side of the Upper Loop trail, I eventually reached the western side of the Lower Loop trail. Here I took a left (east) to head back over to the eastern end of the Upper Loop, in order to explore all of the trails in the forest and to also redo my picture post shots (I had originally shot them in a vertical orientation, and realized that horizontal would be better to capture a panoramic view for the project).

This middle section of the Lower Loop was very beautiful in some spots, with a narrower and pretty smooth, soft footbed with tiny evergreens bordering the trail. After redoing my picture post shots, I returned over this section of trail and completed the western end of the Lower Loop. Near the end of the trail, I came upon a section where the trail had been rerouted for habitat restoration. The rerouted portion wasn’t all that pleasant. The trail seemed to be covered with a lot of logging waste, or maybe it’s just that the finishing stages of trail building haven’t been completed yet. There were lots of loose tree roots and wood chips covering the trail. Fortunately, this was a short section of trail.

Much closer to the end of the Lower Loop is a spur trail to a field. I walked it, just for the sake of exploring. Retracing my steps back to the Lower Loop, I followed it a short way back to the start by the log landing area, and back down to the entrance.

Covering all of the trails and retracing my steps over part of the Lower Loop added up to 2.75 miles and took me an hour and 20 minutes to complete. Gear-wise, I didn’t need much – I used my little LL Bean backpack instead of my “real hiking” (ha ha) backpack, and took along some hot green tea in a travel thermos. I didn’t even bother with snacks, since I wasn’t going to be out long and I had just eaten breakfast. My layers were perfect for today’s temperatures – low to mid 30s. I wore a long-sleeved running shirt as a base layer, topped with a fleece-lined running shirt and safety orange fleece jacket, plus fleece-lined leggings (word of the day is fleece, apparently). Plus hand-knit hat, mittens, and socks. Footwear was trail running shoes (though I’m not a trail runner).

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