The Ridgeline Trail to Bailey Brook Trail and Black Lead Mine Trail at the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve in Keene, New Hampshire is a moderate 7.5-mile out-and-back hike that passes through the entire park across several trails.
Trail names: Ridgeline, Bailey Brook and Black Lead Mine Trails.
Location: The Horatio Colony Nature Preserve. The Trails are located roughly a mile outside of the city of Keene, NH. The trailhead parking is located on Daniels Hill Road in Keene. From Keene, follow Route 9 West toward Brattleboro Vermont. Daniels Hill road will be on the left. The parking area is about an 1/8th of a mile on the left side of the road.
Allowed activities: walking, hiking, geocaching, birdwatching, photography, nature study
Forbidden activities: No hunting, No fishing, no trapping, no motorized vehicles, no mountain biking, no overnight camping, no overnight parking, and no fires.
Hours: The hiking trails are open daily from dawn to dusk.
Fees: There is no charge to park or use the trails.
Parking: There is limited parking at the base of the road that leads to the trailhead. If a group is planning to use the trails, they are asked to call ahead and request the gate be unlocked to allow for access to the upper parking area, otherwise the gate will remain locked. Contact the Nature Preserve Manager at 603-283-2115 or the museum at 603-352-0460 prior to visiting. Parking on Daniels Hill Road is not allowed.
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are leashed and waste is carried out with the hiker.
Accessibility: The trails here are not wheelchair accessible. The road to the trailhead is very steep and rocky. Depending on the season, there could be leaf litter, or mud causing the trail to be slippery. The wooden foot bridges that cross over wet areas or streams are sturdy, but can be uneven thanks to winter frost heaves. Hikers doing these trails will need to be able to ford small streams. Hikers should be able to walk on uneven surfaces or over downed trees without difficulty. Many areas of the trail have roots along the path.
Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash receptacles. Please carry out your trash.
Length: The Ridgeline Trail is a moderate to strenuous 1.7 mile trail that goes out and back. The Bailey Brook trail begins where Ridgeline trail terminates. It is 1.3 miles long and goes out and back. Black Lead Mine is a side hike off of Ridgeline that branches from the Ridgeline trail and connects back to it.
Trail information: There is one main trailhead at this nature preserve. Although the hike to the Kiosk is only 1/10th of a mile from the parking area, it is a 7.4% grade. At the Kiosk, hikers will find information about the trails posted, as well as maps and interpretive trail guides that will explain the points of interest noted along the trails. The booklets and maps can be borrowed to take along the hike and then returned. There is also a sign-in sheet for hikers. At the time of our hike there were no maps and only one booklet for hikers to use. The Ridgeline Trail is marked by white rectangle blaze markers on trees along the trail. The trail is well maintained, but seems to get less foot traffic than the Red Diamond Trail does. Along with the blazes, there are the numbered wooden markers that are painted red. These correlate to the points of interest explained in the guidebook borrowed from the trailhead Kiosk. Along with the trail blaze markers, arrows or smaller wooden trail information can be found. Most of the markers are high enough to see even during winter with reasonable snow fall. To get a print out of trail maps before your visit follow this link:
There is the Horatio Colony cabin on the way to information trailhead kiosk which visitors are allowed to enter. Take some time to read about the History of the Colony family and the legacy they left behind. There are also information boards on display that will inform visitors a little bit about the plants, animals and birds you may encounter during your visit.
In order to reach Ridgeline Trail, hikers must first walk part way on the Red Diamond Trail. There are a four trails that be accessed around the midpoint of the Red Diamond Trail. Ridgeline Trail is the first trail that branches off of the Red Diamond Trail and the markers there are white. The Ridgeline Trail is an “out and back” trail. The Ridgeline trail starts in the City of Keene and then crosses over into the Town of Swanzey NH. The other 3 trails are all in Swanzey NH. Black Lead Mine Trail is a small trail that juts off of the Ridgeline Trail and then connects back to the Ridgeline Trail. Black Lead Mine Trail blaze markers are yellow. At the end of the Ridgeline trail is a junction plaza with the Slickenslide trail heading off to the left, and Bailey Brook Trail heading slightly off to the right. Slickenslide Trail has Blue blaze markers and Bailey Brook has Yellow Blaze markers. Both the Slickenslide and the Bailey Brook Trails are “out and back” hikes. Bailey Brook Trail terminates at Forest Avenue in Swanzey NH. It is not recommended to start a hike from this point, as Forest Avenue is not easily accessible and there is no parking at the end of this trailhead. Since there are these four other trails branching from the Red Diamond Trail, there are numerous possibilities for creating longer or shorter hikes. This trail system is part of the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Trail that runs from Brattleboro Vermont to Mount Monadnock, some 40 miles away. This is marked by Blue and White Diamond Blaze markers.Explore 72 trails near Keene, NH
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