Mud Pond
Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

Destination:  Mud Pond (1150')
Trail:  Mud Pond Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge
Location:  Jefferson, NH
Rating:  Easy  
Features:  Pond, handicap accessible
Distance:  1.2 miles  
Elevation Gain:  70 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 0:30   Typical: 0:40  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 1:20   Typical: 1:20  
Season:  Winter
Hike Date:  12/31/2010 (Friday)  
Last Updated:  12/25/2013  
Author:  Webmaster

Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Route Summary   

This is a neat hike to Mud Pond in the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge. It is short and easy and includes about a quarter-mile of well built, raised and railed boardwalks meandering through a thick conifer forest.

Other than the kiosk at the trailhead, there are no trail signs or blazes, but following the directions below, it is easy to stay on track.

  • From the parking lot, walk past the kiosk and then head out on the wide trail.
  • After about 0.2 mile, turn left off of the open area.
  • For the next 0.2 mile, descend gently through several switchbacks on a wide trail.
  • Near the base of the hill, the raised boardwalk will begin. Follow it for about 0.2 mile which will bring you to an observation deck at Mud Pond.
  • After enjoying the scenery, retrace your steps back to the parking lot, turning right at the top of the hill.

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
     Split
Time
     Total
Time
    
Mud Pond Trailhead (1200') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Mud Pond (1150') 0.6 0.6 0:15 0:15
Mud Pond Trailhead (1200') 0.6 1.2 0:15 0:30

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Pine trees, from
Mud Pond Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
Pine trees, from Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)




 

Click for a full trail map (it will open in a new window).   

Trail map of hike route to Mud Pond at Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge
(map by Webmaster)
Trail map of hike route to Mud Pond at Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

Mud Pond Trail starts out straight and mostly flat as it passes by hardwoods. I donned my snowshoes and followed the packed trail, soon arriving at a left-hand turn.

Here the trail gets more interesting on a winter hike; there is a little bit of a view (it looked like Cherry Mountain) and conifers border the trail, which is still wide but not as open as the first section. The evergreens were carrying a lot of snow which made them prettier than normal. My guess would be that the first section would be more interesting in the summertime with the trees leafed out and wildflowers in bloom.

The route headed gently downhill via several switchbacks. This trail is handicapped accessible so I'm sure the zigzagging was incorporated to take the sting out of the hill in both directions.

Mud Pond (photo by Webmaster)
Mud Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Near the base of the hill, I encountered the start of the boardwalk section which leads the rest of the way to Mud Pond. This section was my favorite. The raised boardwalk with railings took me smoothly through a conifer forest.

I could see there were a few spots where benches and small side decks weren't yet finished, but the bulk of the construction is complete. North Woods Stewardship Center did a fantastic job with this trail. The boardwalk gracefully meanders through the woods on curving decks which must have been a lot more difficult to build than straight ones. There is one spot where the deck is lower and without railings; this is signed as a "wildlife crossing". With such a long run of railed boardwalk (about a quarter-mile!) bisecting the woods, it was thoughtful to make sure it didn't interfere with the animals that places like this work so hard to protect.

Viewing platform at Mud Pond (photo by Webmaster)
Viewing platform at Mud Pond (photo by Webmaster)

The trail ends at an observation platform with two built-in benches at Mud Pond. The pond itself is only about 3 acres with areas of wetlands to either side of the platform, and otherwise ringed by conifers. The water was frozen and the ice covered with snow. The sun made a short appearance and it was a peaceful place to sit for a bit.

After getting my fill for the day, I retraced my steps back to the parking lot. I will definitely have to revisit this area in the spring and see how different everything is without the snow.

Locator map for Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge
(map by Ben Kimball for NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
Locator map for Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge (map by Ben Kimball for NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
 
Mud Pond Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)


Mud Pond Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)



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NH - Central East


Conifer at
Mud Pond Bog
(photo by Webmaster)
Conifer at Mud Pond Bog (photo by Webmaster)

  Driving Directions   

The trailhead for Mud Pond Trail is located off of Route 116 in Jefferson, New Hampshire.

Mud Pond Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)
From Whitefield, NH:
  • From downtown Whitefield, take Rt. 116 northeast towards Jefferson.
  • Upon reaching a school bus turn-around on the right and town signs for both Whitefield and Jefferson on the left, continue driving for another 1.0 mile.
  • Turn right onto an unsigned access road. There are three orange survey ribbons around a tree trunk at the turn. If you reach Hazelnut Lane, also on the right, then you have gone one driveway too far.
  • Drive 0.1 mile to the end of the access road where there is a large parking lot.
  • The trail is straight ahead, just past the kiosk.

From Jefferson, NH:
  • From Rt. 2 in Jefferson, take Rt. 116 southwest towards Whitefield.
  • At a curve in the road where Whipple Road comes in from the left, continue on Rt. 116 for another 0.8 mile.
  • Turn left onto an unsigned access road. There are three orange survey ribbons around a tree trunk at the turn and it is just after Hazelnut Lane, also on the left.
  • Drive 0.1 mile to the end of the access road where there is a large parking lot.
  • The trail is straight ahead, just past the kiosk.

The access road and parking lot are plowed in the winter.

Cherry Pond and the Pliny Range from the Tudor Richards viewing platform
(photo by Webmaster)
Cherry Pond and the Pliny Range from the Tudor Richards viewing platform (photo by Webmaster)

About Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge   

Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge is a tract of preserved land of about 6,000 acres located in Whitefield and Jefferson, New Hampshire. It offers scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, and protection of important habitats.

The refuge encloses Cherry Pond (100 acres), Little Cherry Pond (25 acres), Mud Pond (3 acres), and Moorhen Marsh. Johns River and Stanley Slide Brook (a.k.a. Stanley Brook or Slide Brook) pass through the refuge, as do several foot trails, a couple rail trails, and even an active railroad (New Hampshire Central Railroad).

The Presidential Range Rail Trail at
Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge
(photo by Webmaster)
The Presidential Range Rail Trail at Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge (photo by Webmaster)
The property can be accessed via several trails: the Pondicherry Rail Trail, the Presidential Range Rail Trail, Slide Brook Trail (part of the long-distance Cohos Trail), Colonel Whipple Trail (also part of the Cohos Trail), and Mud Pond Trail. The rail trails allow snowmobile traffic in the winter; otherwise all trails are open to foot travel only. Mud Pond Trail is reportedly handicapped accessible – I only hiked it during the winter so I can't confirm that for sure but it certainly seemed like it would be in the non-snow seasons. Unlike the other access points, Mud Pond Trail does not connect into the rest of the trail network.

Popular activities include bird watching, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, nature study, photography, and hunting (excluding Cherry Pond and Little Cherry Pond and the area between them).

The scenery is stunning. The views from the shores of Cherry Pond include the Presidential, Pliny, Crescent, and Dartmouth mountain ranges as well as Cherry Mountain. The Tudor Richards viewing platform at Cherry Pond offers a comfortable spot from which to enjoy the vista and watch for birds. There are vast tracts of beautiful wetlands along the Presidential Range Rail Trail, and the surrounding mountains are visible from these areas too. Little Cherry Pond and Mud Pond are also equipped with viewings platforms.

With its proximity to the White Mountain National Forest, the refuge serves as a wildlife corridor as well as preserving its many important habitats. Over 200 species of birds have been identified at the refuge and a heron rookery exists on the west side of Little Cherry Pond. Links to checklists of the various animals at Pondicherry are included below. Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge also supports lots of interesting flora such as pitcher plants, creeping snowberry, trillium, leatherleaf, and rhodora.

Pondicherry is a Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, and it is owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with New Hampshire Audubon and the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game. A local Friends group also plays a role in the management of the refuge, and the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails has specific jurisdiction for the rail trails.

Little Cherry Pond (photo by Webmaster)
Little Cherry Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Checklists   

Click on the following links to see lists of species that have been spotted at Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge.


Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge Property Use Guidelines   

The refuge is open to the public during daylight hours. Please, for the protection of the area and its inhabitants, and for everyone's enjoyment:

  • No camping or fires permitted.
  • Carry out all trash and litter.
  • Do not collect or disturb plants or animals.
  • Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash or under the control of the owner at all times.
  • Hunting is allowed on the refuge in accordance with state regulations. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season. Hunting is not allowed between Cherry Pond and Little Cherry Pond.
  • Foot travel only on Little Cherry Pond Trail.
  • Bicycles and horses are allowed on the rail trail only.
  • No motor vehicles allowed in spring, summer, and fall.
  • Snowmobiles and cross-country skiers share the rail trail in winter – use caution when crossing trails.
  • Be prepared for uneven walking. Trails may be wet, and the boardwalks will be slippery when wet.

The Presidential Mountain Range from the Presidential Range Rail Trail
(photo by Webmaster)
The Presidential Mountain Range from the Presidential Range Rail Trail (photo by Webmaster)

More Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge Trail Reports   


Winter view from Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Winter view from Mud Pond Trail (photo by Webmaster)
 



"Wildlife Crossing" sign
(photo by Webmaster)
"Wildlife Crossing" sign (photo by Webmaster)


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