While you can find interesting birds throughout Antrim and Bennington, there a few hot spots that are worth checking out. For watching hawks and eagles migrating south in the fall, go to: 1. Bald Mountain in Antrim, accessible from the Tudor trail at Willard Pond; 2. Crotched Mountain in Bennington, via the recently constructed accessible trail; and 3. Miller State Park on Pack Monadnock in Peterborough off Route 202. The latter site is staffed by New Hampshire Audubon naturalists during the months of September and October, so there is always someone there to help with identifications of raptors. Go to these spots on a day with winds from a northerly direction. Some hawks will be at eye level or even below. And in mid-September you could possibly see broad-wing hawks and others in kettles (groups) of a hundred or more soaring birds. Eagles and the big hawks generally migrate later.
Willard Pond, Franklin Pierce Lake and Gregg Lake in Antrim are good bets for Common Loons. At Gregg Lake you can see great blue herons, some species of sandpipers, belted kingfishers, kingbirds, swallows, and various species of warblers (yellow, common yellowthroat, black-throated green, black throated blue, redstart) sparrows, orioles, and tanagers. Park in the beach parking lot, and walk to the second bridge and past for a variety of water, scrub, and forest birds. If you canoe or kayak on these ponds and see loons, do not get too close, as their nesting activities are easily disturbed. Loons usually start nesting near the beginning of June and if successful the eggs hatch 28 days later. Admire them from a distance.
The Contoocook River, in Antrim and Bennington, is a great place to see a wide variety of waterfowl, raptors and wading birds. In the early spring , when the ice is just starting to go out, look for bald eagles near Powder Mill Pond. Check the small openings of water for hooded and common mergansers, ring-necked ducks, and buffle-heads. By summer you can often see great blue herons, and maybe even an American bittern. Don and Lillian Stokes, world-famous birders, live near here, and have tallied over 200 species of birds at their home.
Bald Eagles can be spotted even though they are not known to nest in the Antrim Bennington area. One clue is to listen for the crows who get agitated when an eagle, hawk or owl is nearby.
There are no camping facilities in Antrim and Bennington. There are three campgrounds that are nearby.
Greenfield State Park, a 257-site campground with 900-foot beach for campers. Greenfield 547-3497
Pillsbury State Park, a 41-site campground with park amenities nearby. Washington 863.2860
Seven Maples, a family owned campground catering to all camping needs. 24 Longview Rd., Hancock 03449 603-525-3321
Both Antrim and Bennington have Dog Control Ordinances where no owner or keeper of a dog shall permit their dog to run at large at any time.
Trails where dogs are allowed on a leash are Willard Pond, Lily Pond/Meeting House Hill, McCabe Forest, Meadow Marsh, Virginia Baker Natural Area at Rye Pond, Bruce Edes Trail, Crotched Mountain and the Rail Trail. Loveren's Mill does not allow pets.
Antrim is a great place for dog walking with lots of places to go. First, many of the neighborhoods streets are quiet with not much traffic.
The area of Gregg Lake has several options. Drive past the town beach over the one-lane bridge and park in the area just past the bridge. Walk to the right on Craig Road, cross the small bridge, and shortly you come to Hattie Brown Road going off to the left. This road, gated about a ¼ mile down goes off into thousands of acres of forest. Just before there, on the right a trail leaves Craig Road and leads off to the marsh, later crossing Craig Road and continuing until it ends on Hattie Brown Road. Also in fall, winter, and early spring, you can walk the road opposite from where you parked into Camp Chenoa. In late fall, winter, and early spring the camp is shut down. It’s best to leave summer there to the campers. You can also drive on by the parking area and up Brimstone Corner Road to the upper gate entrance to Camp Chenoa. Opposite that a road leads off to the right and is usually gated a couple hundred yards down, but easy enough to walk around.
Off Elm Avenue on the other side of town is Campbell Pond. Leaving town on 202, go left on Elm Ave and take the right on Ashley Road which dead ends about a ¼ mile up. Park and walk straight ahead looking for the trail on the left that leads to the pond. In and out takes about 40 minutes or so if you go all the way to the pond. When you get to the pond the road turns a sharp left and leads to Pierce Lake Road. If you want to go longer, just after turning left at the pond look for an old road that leads off on the side of the pond and goes about halfway around to the other end of the pond. You can continue on around the pond from there but will have to bushwack since there is no established trail.
Leaving town headed toward Hillsborough on Rte202 turn right on Elm Street (not Elm Ave!) to a small parking lot on the right for a trailhead into McCabe Forest. The trail leads to a network of trails in the forest. Further down 202, just past the cemetery is another parking lot and trailhead into McCabe. You can be in there for a good while if you like.
Once the bridges are done on Depot St., drive over the river to a small parking area and the left next to the rail trail. This you will usually have to yourself as well with the occasional ATV or off-road bike coming along. The trail goes all the way to Hillsborough roughly following the river if you have the time and inclination!
If you want to add treasure seeking to your hike in the woods or ride in the country check out geocaching. This treasure hunt is a great way to find places that you wouldn't otherwise know to visit. The best way to get started is to go to the www.geocaching.com website. Membership is free, you only need to create your online account with a user name and password.
You can then search for geocache sites by address, zip code, state or country. If you enter Antrim's zip code today with a radius of 10 miles you will find 198 listings (up from 91 in 2009). Finding the caches with a GPS is the easiest way to do it but you can also use a compass or a good topo map. Some are hidden close to the road and others are along hiking trails. Each cache listing includes location coordinates, directions, date last found, size , difficulty, terrain, description and additional encoded hints on where the cache is hidden.
Caches are typically a waterproof container with a log book and pencil, toys or trinkets and sometimes contain trackable Travel bugs and Geocoins. The trackable items have a number which allows you to log on the website if you retrieve one and also when you place it in a new cache. You can then follow its progress online as it is moved from cache to cache by other players. You can also log stories and photos of your hike relative to the cache online and have a nice reference of all the places you've seen while hunting for treasure!.
Hiking, Walking and Snowshoeing
A wide variety of hiking is available from the easy and rewarding (High Five in Deering) to climbing to the top of Bald Mountain and looking back at Willard Pond.
The two steepest hikes are Crotched Mountain (about 1000' ascent) and Bald Mountain (about 850' ascent). Most of the trails within the Special Places have easy to moderate hikes and distances ranging from 1/2 hour up to a couple of hours.
There are other interesting hikes e.g. cemeteries as well as a walk of the downtown historic sites. 'A Stroll Through Antrim's Changing Landscape, South Village' gives you a guided walking tour through Antrim's downtown. It can be checked out of the Antrim Library and includes a book, tape and a tape player.
For snowshoeing you can use the trails highlighted as part of Special Places and if you are careful the snowmobiling trails. If it isn't too windy snowshoeing on Franklin Pierce Lake or Gregg Lake are other options.
Bring along pocket guides to birds, plants and animal tracks to answer any questions you might have on your walks. Most of the Special Places trails have trail maps available at the trailhead. A trail map PDF for most of the trails is available on the Internet at www.ablions.org/og.
Before you venture out to explore our quiet rural area from a simple walk along a gravel road to climbing mountains check out Being Wise in the Woods on page 51.
Exploration on foot might be beneficial before the ride as these roads are not maintained, subject to gates & bars, and sometimes have a random tree fallen down across them. Also, be aware that you may be sharing these old roads with mountain bikes, ATVs, and the like. There are also miles of Class V "dirt roads" which are also good for riding, but you can expect more traffic on these thoroughfares, so be prepared. Also, it is advisable to don some blaze orange on the rider and the horse during hunting season.
If you are interested in natural horsemanship where horse/human relationships are explored and emphasized you might be interested in lessons at Rainy Day Farm, 107 West Street in Antrim. To learn more, please contact Beth at 588-6615.
Hunting Licenses: If you intend to hunt you should consult www.HuntNH.com, the web site of the Hew Hampshire Fish and Game Department, for the latest license requirements. Fees vary by the hunter’s residence (whether or not one is a New Hampshire resident) and prey (pheasant, deer, bear, etc.).
According to www.HuntNH.com “(b)y state law, anyone planning to buy a hunting, archery or trapping license must complete the respective hunter, bow hunter, or trapper education course, or show a previously issued license of the same type. Courses run from January through October, with many offered in the spring and summer.”
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sets the framework for hunting ducks, geese and other migratory game birds. Waterfowl hunters must obtain a federal duck stamp and a New Hampshire Migratory Waterfowl License, in addition to a New Hampshire hunting license.
Hunting Information: In addition to the www.HuntNh.com site, hunters can consult the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Book or, if they have a question about Fish and Game laws and rules, they can call 603-271-3127. The regional Conservation Officer for the Antrim-Bennington area (Region 4) is located at 25 State Highway 9 Keene NH 03431 and can be reached at (603) 352-9669.
Hunters Clothing: Any hunter should wear a hat, vest or other suitable article of clothing in the color of hunter orange visible from all sides at a minimum distance of 200 feet.
What to Hunt: The area around Antrim and Bennington contains both big and small game and water fowl. Deer, moose (permit only), turkey, pheasant, ruffed grouse, grey squirrel, snowshoe hare, raccoon and geese.
Where to Hunt: As long as the land is not posted for “no hunting” or “no trespassing,” hunters can find numerous places to hunt in the area. Both Antrim and Bennington have had many more houses built in the last ten years. Many new residents are not hunters, nor do they understand hunting. Therefore, it is wise to ask any landowner permission to hunt regardless of posted signs or not. Sportsmen have been losing land for hunting and this has caused more hunters to stalk prey in the same spots. It is also important to note that when hunting you should be at least 300 feet from any occupied dwelling.
Hunters New to the Area: Most hunters new to the area should get a topographical map and pre-scout areas prior to hunting there. Land owners are more likely to feel comfortable talking with someone not dressed in camouflage in the off season before the guns start going off. Leaving your name and contacts confirms that you are a responsible sportsman. The best advice is to do your research, get permission, and be forthright. We all need to be protective of the woods, water and fields we have left.
Antrim: Antrim is a large predominantly rural town, which offers excellent running trails.
For many years the Town sponsored Wayno’s Race, an annual five-mile test which began in front of Antrim Town Hall then south onto Depot Street, along Water Street, onto Route 202, up Prospect Street, up Myrtle and Highland Avenues, down Summer Street to Main Street, up Main Street to West Street out to Old Hancock Road, east to Route 31 and then down Route 31 to Main Street to the finish at the Baptist Church.
All downhill, slightly more than five miles, this second run takes the runner from the Gregg Lake Public Beach down Gregg Lake Road to Route 31, through downtown Antrim onto Route 31-20,2 past the Tenney Farm and then left into Bennington past the Monadnock Paper Company and into downtown Bennington where the runner can stop for a delicious breakfast or lunch.
A third option is a 5.7-mile loop, which starts at the junction of Route 31 and Gregg Lake Road, up Route 31 to Old Pound Road, and then along Gregg Lake Road to Route 31.
If you are looking for an eight-mile run you can do a longer version of the previous run. You would start at the same place, up Route 31 to Route 9,west on Route 9 to Reed Carr Road, up Reed Carr to Craig Road, then to Gregg Lake Road and finally back to the junction with Route 31l.
Running Club: The Monadnock Regional Milers Running Club is dedicated to the sport of running, either competitive, or non-competitive. The Milers welcomes runners of all abilities – beginner, novice, or expert and strive to afford each runner the opportunity to excel at his or her own pace. Membership is open to runners of all ages. The Milers encourages a strong sense of camaraderie and unity among the running community.
Antrim also hosts Summer Sizzler Races each year. The Summer Sizzler Foot Race Series has been operating since 1998 in Antrim, Hancock and Greenfield.
For more information on these two events call 588-3121 or look at the website www.antrimnh.org
In Antrim perhaps the easiest and most accessible place to get a really clear, dark look at the stars is from near the top of Meeting House Hill Road, up past the Grange. Near the top on the left is the oldest cemetery in town, and here alongside the road, or in the cemetery if you dare, you'll find a comfortable and quiet place to view the heavens - which those buried there will attest to. There are of course other out-of-the-way high places where light pollution will not obscure the stars, but this is perhaps the most central, and an easy drive to reach.
If you are looking at the stars you might use one of the numerous applications available on a Smartphone to help you identify the stars. Two of the more popular ones are Google Sky and Sky Map.