Friday, December 10, 2010

Walking Around Wagon Hill Farm in Durham, NH!

Last weekend, Jill and I were dying to get out and do a bit of hiking. We decided to stay close to home, again, as we had planned to get a Christmas Tree later that day and wanted to ensure ample time to prepare the house and get the tree up. So, we headed over to nearby Durham, NH and our destination was Wagon Hill Farm. Since UNH is where I attended school, I had passed by this farm many times but never actually investigated it. I did a little research online prior to our visit and I was shocked to find that there are a fair amount of trails that pass through meadows, forest areas and along the shore lines...all on the Wagon Hill Farm property. For a trail map of Wagon Hill Farm, click here.

Signature wagon at the top of Wagon Hill Farm

Entrance Sign to Wagon Hill Farm on Route 4 in Durham NH

The parking area is located a couple hundred feet up the farmhouse driveway. As soon as I got out of my truck, I noticed an old tractor off to the side, next to the field. I recognized this tractor as an old Model A tractor. Model A tractors were homemade pieces of equipment and were typically constructed during the great depression, when farmers didn't have enough money for new tractors. Instead, they would take old Ford Model A cars and trucks (cheap vehicles, manufactured from 1928-1931) and cut them down into tractors. They were also called Doodlebugs. I spent a few minutes looking it over for a few reasons. First, I love historical artifacts like this...especially in this environment. You can only wonder if it was placed there as decoration or if it was actually used on the farm at one time. Second, I used to have an Model A tractor that my Dad and I used in the woods. So, I have a strong interest in them. This particular Jitterbug was certainly in rough shape.

Old Model A Tractor (Doodlebug) in Rough Shape

View of the pastures, heading down the gravel road path

Jill and I headed south on a nice, gravel road which brought us through a meadow and then a very short forest area. The shoreline came into view quickly as the landscape opened up. It turned from a forest area to a very large picnic area. To the left, was an extremely old cemetery. Again, history on the trail is something I love. I took some time and looked over the headstones. One, in the front row, was a veteran and was marked with a flag. The headstone noted that the individual was a colonel, however, it was not clear when he passed away because I could not read the date. A few other headstones on the right side of the small cemetery didn't even have markings. Some were literally just stones from the earth and were not carved into a headstone shape of any kind. I can only imagine how old these were.

Small, very old cemetery near the shoreline

As we made our way down to the shoreline, there was a very small pavilion that had one little picnic table under it. We used this (and my glove) to prop the camera up to take a timed picture of us. Since it was cold, we continued on quickly and headed to the west. Unlike the gravel road that led us down to the shoreline, this path was more like a hiking trail. It hugged the shore of what I believe is Oyster River. It soon bared right and we were then heading north.

Shoreline, near the pavilion

Shoreline, on the forest trail heading north

The trail wasn't necessarily "well beaten", but there were some yellow blazes that helped to navigate. Along this path, when looking across the river, there were some beautiful houses, which were fun to look at. Soon, we came to a small spur trail that brought you down, onto a peninsula. I've heard that this peninsula is a beautiful place to watch the sunset. Also, across from this spur path is a real spooky, dead tree...that was pretty neat.

Fungi on a tree

Spooky old tree (you can't miss it on this trail)

From the peninsula, the trail headed back east away from the river, and dumped us back onto the first gravel road we started on. Jill and I headed back to the parking area and decided to continue past it, up to the main field, which is where the signature wagon located. This green wagon stands tall on top of Wagon Hill and is visible from Route 4 when you drive by. It is in relatively good shape and has a memorial stone at the foot of it.

Old farm equipment with brush growing up around it

For a cold day in December, this was a nice little walk close to home. I think the next time we visit Wagon Hill Farm, though, Jill and I will go at dusk and try to coincide with the sun setting in the west. After the walking around the farm, we went and purchased our New Hampshire grown, Fraser Fir Christmas Tree and followed it up by our annual trip to the Christmas Dove in Barrington, NH. Another great Saturday in New Hampshire!



  1. Great post Karl. Love the pics. You would love all the old cemeteries here in East TN that we come across on the trail. I think the history associated with trails we hike is just as alluring as the trails and the outdoor beauty they provide.

    As an aside, you guys look great together too.


  2. Hi Tim,

    I agree with the history comment you made above. I love history as it is...anything that has a story behind it fascinates me...I'm a dork like that. Check out my post from May 12th. I wrote about a really cool photo I got at an antique store.

    NH has a ton of trailblazing history. We have the first published trail (The Crawford Path) in the United States which starts in the Crawford Notch and heads up Mount Washington. It is also part of the AT.

    Really good stuff!


  3. What a lovely place! Beautiful scenery, and YES! You gotta love that spooky tree. Thanks for the lesson on Model A tractors. I had no idea such thing even existed --- I'm a poor excuse for a farm girl. hehe

  4. That's one thing to love about hiking - it can be done year 'round. Great pics and thanks for taking us along.

    The hat rocks, by the way!

  5. Hi Robin, I was actually wrong on the Model A Tractor name. They were called Doodlebugs, not Jitterbugs...

    Hi Casey, I agree...you can always find a good hike any day of the year. Thanks...I like the hat too!


  6. Karl, I don't know if you are from NH originally or,how long you have been here.....but there is some fun sledding done on wagon hill once we have snow. I have lived in this area all of my 51 years and though the old stuff is neat to see, the changes I have seen just in the area from gasoline alley to the Wal-Mart in Newington....are beyond description.

  7. Hi Keith & Gina,

    I have lived in NH most of my life (since I was 3) in the seacoast region. I actually went to college at UNH, so I'm very familiar with the sledding that goes on at Wagon Hill. It's great to drive by there in the winter and see the sleds zipping down. Hopefully, we'll get some white stuff soon, so sledding can start up this year!

    Thanks for stopping by!