By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- With more than four miles of new trails now open at the Musquash Conservation Center, novice snowshoers can experience winter at its finest during a special field day later this month.
On Saturday, Feb. 12, the Londonderry Conservation Commission, along with University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension, will sponsor Musquash Field Day.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., interested locals can snowshoe, explore new trails, hike to cellar holes and learn the secrets of the forest, its plants and wildlife. Refreshments served around an open fire will top off the afternoon.
A favorite spot amongst local hikers, cyclists, snowshoers and nature enthusiasts, the heavily forested Musquash Conservation Area spans more than 900 acres.
Named for the Algonquin word for “muskrat,” the conservation area, which was established in 1979, includes forests and wetlands. Londonderry Trailways volunteers regularly maintain trails, while the conservation commission works closely with a licensed forest manager.
According to conservation commissioner Mike Considine, the field day event has been a popular one for more than a decade.
“We’ve been pretty busy this year,” Considine said, noting that those who haven’t visited the conservation area lately can explore the four new trails, all added during the past year.
According to conservation commissioner Deb Lievens, one of the new trails connects Faucher Road to the site’s landing area, the same spot where residents will gather around the campfire next Saturday.
The conservation commission has been working closely with town GIS manager John Vogl to update the Musquash trail map. Considine said the updated map should be posted online later this week for residents to access it prior to the field day.
Next week’s adventure seekers will likely spot animal tracks from roving coyote, fox, fisher cats and deer. Commissioner Mike Speltz said he hopes to see moose, weasel and muskrat tracks as well, and noted that hikers would likely see beaver dams and heron nests.
Considine, who regularly hikes the Musquash trails, said he’s seen many deer, porcupine, moose and fishers during recent visits. He said a goodsized crowd attending the field day would likely scatter wild animals.
“Now, if someone set out to our trails by themselves, maybe early in the morning, they might see some creatures,” he said.
For those who don’t own snowshoes, not to worry: representatives from Manchester’s Eastern Mountain Sports store will offer a limited supply of snowshoes, which residents can borrow.
“It’s a piece of cake,” was Considine’s advice for the uninitiated. “Just strap ‘em on and go.”
Those wishing to participate in the field day are asked to meet with the local conservation team at 10 a.m. on Feb. 12 at the Musquash main entrance, at the end of Hickory Hill Drive. No registration is required.
For more information, including a trail map of the Musquash Conservation Area, go to www.londonderrytrails.com.