Almost seven miles of newly-signed and blazed trails on Plummers Ridge in Milton, NH will be open for the public to explore in a guided walk on Saturday, May 13. The trails, which meander through 400 conserved acres of woodlands and fields and along streambanks, connect the adjacent farms of Branch Hill Farm, McKenzie’s Farm and the New Hampshire Farm Museum. The Grand Opening event from 10 am to 2 pm will celebrate the connecting trails project with a guided hike, complimentary refreshments and lunch, and a tour of the Farm Museum.

The three farms on Plummer’s Ridge are part of a regional grass roots effort to tell the story of this area’s rich rural and cultural heritage, reflected in the natural beauty, historic farms and bountiful forests of Milton. Branch Hill Farm is a private operating foundation with conservation and educational purposes, which operates an award winning Tree Farm and working agricultural farm. McKenzie’s Farm, at 71 NE Pond Rd, is a three-generation family farm that grows fine fruits and vegetables for sale and U-Pick. The NH Farm Museum, at 1305 White Mountain Highway, offers programs about the rich history of NH farming, to help today’s school children and visitors connect with the farmers of our shared past.  The Farms are grateful to Eagle Scout Stephen Steer and Milton Boy Scout Troop #155 for constructing and installing trail signs and a kiosk.

The day’s events will kick off at 10 am at the Farm Museum, with complimentary apple cider doughnuts from McKenzie’s Farm to liven the celebration. From there, consulting forester Charlie Moreno will lead a hike around a portion of the connecting trails while pointing out recent uses of innovative forestry practices designed to improve forest health and wildlife habitat.  According to Moreno, who provides professional guidance for the sustainable management of Branch Hill Farm’s forests, “Nurturing a healthy, valuable forest for the future lies at the core of BHF’s conservation mission.” The length of the hike will depend on outing participants; possible destinations include two new scenic overlooks of the wetlands and Northeast Pond. People are free to explore more on their own but are requested to please stay on the trails, which have been carefully routed to protect sensitive areas such as wetlands and stream banks that could erode. A free chili lunch will be served back at the Farm Museum, where a tour of the Museum will also be offered.

The Grand Opening is free and families are welcome but pre-registration is required by Wednesday, May 10.  Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) is co-sponsoring the event and will take registrations; call MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren at (603) 978-7125 or email info@mmrg.info. For those who cannot attend but wish to hike at a later date, click here for a pdf version of the new color-coded trail map or click on the map below for a jpg verison. Printed maps will be available soon at McKenzie’s Farm, the NH Farm Museum, at the trailhead kiosk across the road from the Museum, and other local venues.