One of my town’s conservation properties is practically next door to me, yet I hadn’t been there for more than a decade. I made up for that today, walking to Wildcat Falls on a warm spring day.
The Souhegan River runs through my town, and I live only a couple of hundred yards away from it. The river wraps around my neighborhood. On the other side, a stone’s throw away, is the Wildcat Falls conservation area. I show my age, or at least that I’ve lived in town awhile, when I call it 80 Acres.
80 acres was the unimaginative name for – wait for it – an 80-acre parcel of undeveloped land along the north side of the river, near Wildcat Falls. Thumbs-up to whomever renamed the parcel to reflect its most remarkable natural feature.
Wildcat Falls is the reason there’s a canoe take-out upstream where the river crosses Turkey Hill Road. Way too much granite and way too many fallen trees make the falls a spot that’s pretty to look at but lousy to navigate.
There are a couple of miles of trails winding through the conservation area and the adjoining state property. All I was interested in today was the falls: pleasant, very close, and too long neglected by me.
The walk to the falls from the parking lot goes through a sandy, pine-y area that reminds me of where I grew up in flat southern Florida, where rivers looked like canals and where waterfalls were pure fiction. Today’s sandy pines led me instead to the Souhegan, a modest river in the greater scheme of things, but quite a fine one to me.
The Wildcat Falls stop was an oh-by-the-way that I added to my travels as I came home from a couple of hours on the trails at Beaver Brook Association in Hollis. Beaver Brook features several parking lots and trailheads around its property, so that on sunny weekend days like this one I’m not likely to be deterred by a full parking lot there. The one lot at Wildcat Falls was nearly full today, but the residential street nearby is probably fine for overflow parking. (Don’t tell the neighbors I said that.)
I tried visiting the Andres Institute trails today, but parking was impossible. Save that one for a weekday.