The Kuncanowet Forest Trails at Kuncanowet Town Forest and Conservation Area in Dunbarton, New Hampshire is a 6.4-mile loop hike that follows several named trails and features pond views and an old mill site.
Trail name: Mill Pond Trail, Pond View Loop, Lost Lake Loop Trail, Mill House Trail, Gum Tree Trail and Hobblebush Trail
Location: Kuncanowet Town Forest and Conservation Area, Holiday Shore Drive, Dunbarton NH
Allowed activities: Hiking, nature study, mountain biking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, geocaching
Trail Restrictions: No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails. No Alcohol is allowed. No open fires. Camping is allowed by permit only. Camping permits can be obtained at the Dunbarton Town Offices. Please park in designated parking area only.
Hours: There is a curfew from 11:00 PM to 5:00AM
Fees and Parking: There is no fee to park or use the trails. There is plenty of off street parking at the trailhead at the end of Holiday Shore drive. The parking area is accessed by going down a dirt road at the end of Holiday Shore Drive. There is currently a wooden sign nailed to a tree at the start of the dirt road that points the way to the parking area.
Pets: Dogs are allowed on a leash. Owners must remove all dog waste.
Accessibility: The trails are not wheelchair accessible.
Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash bins at the trailhead parking area or along the trails. Please carry out all trash.
Trail information: The Kuncanowet Town Forest and Conservation Area are named after the Kuncanowet Hills which means “mountain place of the bear”. Fortunately during our hike, we did not see any of the areas namesake. This area consists of roughly 1,000-acres of protected forest and wetlands. This area boasts 7miles of hiking trails with many connecting trails that offer visitors endless combinations to enjoy over many visits throughout the year. The trail substrate is varied, but not overly difficult. We hiked through many different ecosystems and saw many different types of trees: red pine, white pine, beech, birch, ash, hemlock, oak and maple to name a few.
The area is managed by the Kuncanowet Town Forest and Conservation Area Committee and a trail map and brief trail descriptions can be downloaded and printed by following the link below:
There is no information kiosk at the trailhead but there is a map nailed to a tree in the parking area. Out by road entrance of the parking area, beneath the sign to the parking there is a mailbox with “trail maps” sign on it. Use caution here because the box is quite high on the tree and hikers have to reach blindly into the box to feel around for a map. I ended up with my hand covered in ants, and there was only one map in the box at the time of our visit. It could have been worse if hornets or wasps had been nesting in the box instead of ants.
We would rate this almost 6 mile as moderate, mostly due to the time it took to hike all the trails, and not so much the terrain being difficult. We did this hike as a compilation of loops as well as a side out and back hike to visit a Mill Site. We hiked on several named trails that had different color blazes, all of the trails were well marked and very easy to follow. All the junction points have wooden signs with excellent directions and names noted on the signs. We started our hike on the Mill Pond Trail by following the wide road off to the right side of the parking area. We past the metal gate and saw the plaque mounted on a large stone that in 2005 commemorated the establishment of this forest and conservation area back in 1989. The Mill Pond Trail has red trail blaze markers and is very wide and the terrain offers very little in the way of trip hazards. We were delighted to add some geocaching to our hike, and some were found along this trail.
The Pond View Loop is a short trail that spurs off of the Mill Pond Trail. It appeared to be blazed mostly in white blazes, however we did see silver as well, but that could have been due to the elements or animals wearing off the colors. In any event, there are ample markers to keep you on the trail. This is a narrow trail that brings hikers close to the Stinson Mill Pond. There are some really nice views of the pond which was loaded with blooming lily pads when we visited. The Pond View Loop brings hikers back alongside the remnants of the Mill Site and back to the Mill Pond Trail.
To continue the hike, we headed to the right back onto the Mill Pond Trail and over a small but sturdy wooden bridge. Just past the bridge Hikers will notice wooden signs nailed to a tree marking the Mill House Trail. The Mill House Trail is a short out and back hike. Hikers will see the remnants of the stone walls that were part of the mill along with a wooden bridge to cross over the stream. The Mill Site trail is marked with yellow blazes and is narrow path that and winds along the stream and into the woods. The footing is a bit more precarious, as there are roots and rocks to navigate as well as several downed trees over the trail. The trail terminates at the site of an old building foundation. Be careful around the area and keep away from the edges of the foundation as time and gravity are causing some of the sides to collapse inward.
We picked up the Mill Pond Trail and headed toward the Lost Lake Loop Trail. This area of the Mill Pond Trail can be muddy and wet in areas and we could see several areas where hikers and mountain bikers before us had made their way around the wetter areas. Thankfully the Lost Lake Loop trail was not muddy and was very easy to follow thanks to the yellow trail markers. The trail leads hikers to a scenic beaver pond fitting named “Lost Lake”. The trail is flanked by large interesting boulders with low growing blueberry bushes in between. The trail skirts over and through the rocky area and around the edge of the pond offering beautiful views of the pond, dams and beaver hut out in the water. The trail winds its way away from the pond up a hill and back into the dense forest. We continued on the Lost Lake Loop trail until we came to the intersection of the Gum Tree Trail.
The Gum Tree Trail has blue trail blaze markers and like all the other trails, is very well marked. This trail is mostly through the forest. We were hiking during a rainy stretch of weather and were happy to see several different kinds of mushrooms in all colors, sizes and textures. There are also geocaches to hunt for on this trail as well. The trail has some steep sections and care needs to be given when hiking over rocky areas, especially when rain has made the area slick. According to the posted map, there is supposed to be a nice overlook along the Gum Tree Trail. We were a little disappointed that we were not able to find it during this hike. We did find an area where there might have been a nice view at one time, but the tree growth has now obscured any chance of a view. We continued on the Gum Tree Trail, passing by the Stone Wall trail and then the Gorham Pond trail until we connected back to the Lost Lake Loop Trail and back on to the Mill Pond Trail. We hiked the Mill Pond Trail, back tracking our steps until we came to the Hobblebush Trail. The Hobblebush Trail is blazed in yellow and is a lovely hike that brings you back to the parking area.