The Shieling Forest Loop Hike located at Shieling Forest in Peterborough, New Hampshire is an easy 1.5-mile trail that encompasses the forest. This loop will bring you along the Hill Connector Trail, Boulder Trail, Ridge Trail, Old Greenfield Rd Trail, Brookside Trail, and the Wildflower Trail before heading back along the Hill Connector to parking.
Location: The Shieling Forest Trails are located in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, in the town of Peterborough on 395 Old Street Road.
Allowed activities: walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, geocaching, and snowshoeing.
Hours: Trails are open daily from 7:00 AM to dusk. A large hanging notice is posted at the entrance to the parking area.
Parking: There is ample parking near the trailhead along with a couple of picnic tables.
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are leashed and waste is carried out with the hiker.
Accessibility: The trails are not wheelchair accessible. Hikers should have the ability to go up and down some hilly terrain. The bridge that crosses over Dunbar brook was in need of maintenance at the time of our trek, so a hiker should be able to walk on uneven surfaces without difficulty. Many areas of the trail have roots along the path, so watch your step. Be aware that in the spring or wet weather, leaf litter will cause the path to be slippery. There could also be areas of mud that you may want to circumnavigate.
Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash receptacles unless the Forestry Learning Center happens to be open. The Shieling Forest buildings are only open during scheduled program events, and although the learning center is handicap accessible, it is not always open. The learning center is used for education programs and conservation meetings. For more information there is a telephone number posted on the hanging notice board at the entrance to the parking area.
Length: This trip was a moderate 1.5 mile trail that looped. There are several trails that connect to one another, so there could be a number of combinations made to create longer or shorter hikes. Hikes could also easily be done as “out-and-back” hikes. The Boulder Trail terminates at a boulder outcropping with some impressively large boulders perched on a hillside. From this point, blue colored blazes on trees mark the connecting Ridge Trail. Ridge Trail connects the hiker to Old Greenfield Road trail, Brookside trail and Wildflower trail. Here the blazes are white, or can be seen on named marker posts or low wooden posts.
Trail information: There is no information house marker with maps. Hikers can print a map before heading out by going to the link below. You can also change the map tile layer on the interactive map below to use the OpenStreetMap tiles to view the trails there.
To get to the network of trails, you will need to park and then
cross a small stretch of grassy meadow. The meadow is flanked on the right side
by an orchard of American chestnut trees. These have been planted in hopes of
restoring this tree to the nearby ecosystem. A small brick stairway leads to a
path that leads to the Boulder Trail. The Boulder Trail is marked with painted white blazes
on trees along the pathway. Other trails branch off of this main trail, most
Near the Wildflower Garden, there are pink and orange colored ribbons tied to branches, this may be for marking plants rather than the trail, but the paths that loop around are clear to see. You will also find a picnic table and a well pump at this spot. The pump was not working when we visited and the water may not be potable.
Since the forest and trails are located in a residential
area, the trail will, at times, skirt homes or roadways. However the trail will
quickly turn to bring the hiker back into the forest to continue the hike. The other trails are well marked with wooden
posts at each junction and blaze color changes. The Wildflower Garden is
dedicated to Mrs. Elizabeth Yates McGreal, who, without her, the Shieling
Forest and trails would not exist. Mrs. Elizabeth Yates McGreal, gifted to the
State of NH some 45+ acres of land along with buildings. Mrs. Elizabeth Yates McGreal was a resident of Peterborough, an award winning
author (Elizabeth Yates) and philanthropist. Her book, “The Road Through
Sandwich Notch”, published in 1972 helped in discouraging development in that
area of the White Mountains, which later became part of the national forest.
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