The Wales Preserve Loop at the Wales Preserve in Sharon, New Hampshire is an easy 2.3-mile loop trail that features a peaceful woodland setting with access to scenic banks of the Gridley River.
Trail name: Brookside Trail, Woodland Trail
Location: Wales Preserve, Spring Hill Road Sharon NH (42.816268 -71.970597)
Allowed activities: Foot travel only, Nature Study
Trail Restrictions: The following activities are not allowed: hunting, fishing, trapping, camping. Motorized vehicles, mountain bikes and horses are prohibited. No fires are allowed.
Hours: no hours are posted
Fees and Parking: There is no fee to park or use the trails at Wales Preserve. There is a medium sized orange and white sign from the Nature Conservancy marking the trailhead that can be seen from Spring Hill Road. There is no designated parking lot for the area and visitors must park alongside the road.
Pets: No pets are allowed
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.
Length and Trail information: The trails at Wales Preserve form a loop that is roughly 1.06 miles in length. The trails are marked by engraved wooden signs at the beginning and junctions of each trail. Along the way hikers will notice yellow and green markers or white and green markers to help them stay on the trail. The hike is not difficult and the substrate is easy to navigate. Occasionally hikers will need to be careful as they cross over protruding tree roots or around wet spots. There are no steep climbs or difficult elevation changes. All in all it is a lovely place to enjoy a quick, easy, relaxing hike in a very scenic spot.
The hike starts off of Spring Hill Road, past a large cement barricade. Heading west, away from the road a few yards into the woods, can be seen another large orange and white Nature Conservancy sign. The sign is installed near a rock with a memorial plaque dedicated to David Wales. Across from the sign is a tiny kiosk with a posted trail map. A short walk down the path is a memorial bench dedicated to Roger Wales. The bench is next to another memorial plaque installed on a very large rock. The memorial plaque on this large rock is dedicated to Ralph Wales, without whom the Wales Preserve would not exist. In 1966, Ralph Wales and his wife Betty donated 23 acres of land to the Nature Conservancy and then in 1986 another 25 acres was donated, bringing the Wales Preserve to its current size of 48 acres. Located not too far from this last memorial, is a wooden trail register where visitors are encouraged to record their visit. However at the time of our visit, there was no register to sign, perhaps due to Covid-19 precautions. At the register, the trail turns and heads south to the Gridley River.
The Brookside Trail follows along the banks of the Gridley
River until it meets up with the Woodland Trail which veers from the river
heading northwest and taking hikers into the pine and hemlock woods. We noticed
lots of mushrooms fruiting and a lot of downed tree debris. When we reached the
junction to rejoin the Brookside Trail, and head south, we noticed off to our
right, a small wooden bridge. We decided to see if we could extend our hike
along the river as the loop part of the trail is noted on the map to be 0.76-miles
long. We crossed over the wooden bridge and out of the Wales Preserve and saw a
small green and yellow sign welcoming us into the Gridley River Tree Farm and
Wildlife Habitat. There is a path that follows alongside the river, but there
were no trail markers and no signs along the way. We hiked along the path until
the path became too obscure and we turned and back tracked back to the Wales
Preserve. This short hike add on was a nice addition as the Gridley River is quite
close to the path and this river with its twist and turns and multiple cascades of water is quite scenic. As we re-entered the Wales Preserve, we
headed south along Brookside Trail until we closed the loop heading east back
out to Spring Hill Road. A lovely hike a beautiful fall day in New England.