Friday, May 3, 2019

ORFS Hike Bicknell Brook Trail & Colette Trail, Enfield, NH

Our hike begins by entering the woods at the Groton Pond-ColetteTrail sign on Boy’s Camp Road in Enfield, New Hampshire. The Colette Trail intertwines with Bicknell Brook as we follow it upstream enjoying its roaring (meaning very loud) cascades and waterfalls. When we get to the bridge crossing Bicknell Brook, we backtrack to our start, and cross Boy’s Camp Road again, this time going downstream following the Crystal Lake-Colette Trail sign. We enjoy lunch on the promontory overlooking the rushing Bicknell Brook twenty or so feet below us.

We find ourselves yelling to talk over the noise of Bicknell Brook.  Hiking poles are recommended due to the rocky and root lined path.

The below narrative and above map of the Bicknell Brook Loop Trail and Colette Trail are from the Upper Valley Land Trust.

“Although undeveloped for the most part, Bicknell Brook owes its current state to humans, as well as beavers. The stream houses the site of a former sawmill just downstream of Boy’s Camp Road and the Butman Bridge. Mr. Butman constructed a hydro-powered mill circa 1821. The mill was likely active throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. Approximately one-fourth mile upstream of Boys Camp Road and the former mill site, the trail passes over the remnants of a stone wall. The stone wall was a retaining wall that created a millpond. The water was held back to be released by a sluice gate when power for the mill was needed. Evidence of the sluice door exists in the form of a rock-lined hole which likely held a post.

Also at the old mill site is evidence of small-scale granite quarrying. The extent of the quarrying is debatable, but rectangular slabs of granite in the stream bed along with indication of drill holes and remaining metal wedges speak to its existence. Most likely the quarrying was for harvesting material locally with which to build the mill. It is fascinating to note that some of the cascading waterfalls are not natural and flow over rectangular ledges cut in these operations.

Logging is another human activity that has taken place along Bicknell Brook. There is evidence of logging activity throughout the past several decades in the form of open, grassy clearings riddled with the stumps of harvested trees. Openings from former logging roads leading in the direction of Boys Camp Road are also visible, along with basal scars on the bases of tree trunks that were created by logging skidders dragging downed trees through the forest. These scars exist where the bark has been knocked off, and the inner wood of the tree trunk is exposed.”

DIRECTIONS: from New London take Rt.11 East to Potter Place. Turn left on Rt.4A and go 15 miles toward Enfield past Grafton Pond Rd. to next right sharp turn at Boys Camp Rd. Continue over a small bridge (Butman Bridge and angle park on the left. The trailheads are on either side.

Now, I never have to say, “I wish I had hiked the Bicknell Brook and Colette Trail in Enfield, NH.”

Who are the ORFS?
The Outdoor Recreation for Seniors (ORFS) group meets every Tuesday year-round at 10 am. In the summer we kayak/canoe, swim and hike. In the fall we hike, and in the winter we snowshoe and cross-country ski. Our trips are from 1-1/2 to 2 hours, followed by lunch.

Directions and location are available for our Tuesday 10 am outings via email and the monthly New London Chapin Senior Center Courier newsletter. To learn more and join, contact the Chapin Senior Center at 357 pleasant Street, PO Box 1263, New London, New Hampshire 03752 or go to their web site at

ORFS is a very informal group and participation is for all outdoor enthusiasts wanting guaranteed good exercise with a friendly fun group.


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