John Hay Land Studies Center
Society for the Protection of NH Forests
54 Portsmouth Street, Concord, NH 03301
The Forest Society's John Hay Land Studies Center programs are located at the 712-acre "C.L. Hay Forest and Wildlife Management Area" also known simply as "The Hay Reservation," in Newbury, NH. The literary legacy of award-winning Cape Cod naturalist, John Hay, son of Clarence and Alice Hay, lives on in Forest Society outreach programs and recreational trail improvements which bring the public to the woodlots and former pastures of the Hay family's cherished "Fells Farm."
The Hay Reservation property is integral to the Forest Society's outreach education goals for both forest management and natural history education. The property's unique and exceptional wildlife habitats, diverse forests, Sunset Hill, Beech Brook and associated wetlands and areas of active forest management – including timber harvesting and pre-commercial timber stand improvements – provide an ideal setting for forestry and wildlife education programs.
The unique cultural resources of the Hay Reservation include cellar holes of former farms, stonewalls and pastures that have reverted to forestland along more than 4 miles of excellent recreational hiking trails including the "Sunset Hill Trail" and "Old County Road." The trails provide excellent access to a rich outdoor classroom for natural history workshops connecting forest history to land use history.
The original 675 acre tract of the Hay Reservation was donated to the Forest Society in 1960 by Clarence L. Hay and his wife, Alice Appleton Hay. The Hay Reservation was expanded in 1998 with the purchase of a critical in-holding. The 37-acre Kidder Tract on Chalk Pond Road was named in honor of the late William F. Kidder Jr., a Forest Society Trustee in New London. Parking and access to recreational trails is located at either end of the Old County Road (gated), at the Kidder Tract on Chalk Pond Road and at The Fells main Gate House office parking area opposite the Sunset Hill Trail.
The Hay Forest Reservation is the largest tract of an 876-acre complex of protected land overlooking Lake Sunapee. The adjacent 81-acre US Fish and Wildlife Service John Hay National Wildlife Refuge and the 83-acre former Hay family home with its landscaped grounds known as The Fells. The Fells provides horticultural and cultural history education programs including house and garden tours.
The Hay Reservation page in the Online Guide to Our Land has more information, including an excellent map of the hiking trails
Hours: The Hay Forest Reservation trails are open year-round, dawn to dusk.
Directions: From Concord and points south and east: Take I-89 north to Exit 9 (Route 103) and go west to Newbury. Then take Route 103A north 2.2 miles. From Lebanon, Hanover and points north: Follow I-89 south to Exit 12 (Route 11), turn right at end of ramp and immediately left onto Route 103A south. Follow 103A for 5.6 miles.
Hay Forest Reservation features
The Hay Forest Reservation in Newbury offers nearly four miles of excellent hiking along interior roads and trails that wind through the pine, red oak, spruce, hemlock and northern hardwood forests growing back on former hay fields, sheep pastures, and orchards. Sunset Hill offers sweeping views of Lake Sunapee, Mount Sunapee, Kearsarge, and distant peaks of the White Mountains.
The legacy of the historic hill farm originally purchased by Secretary of State John Milton Hay is evidenced in the woods today. The Old County Road is flanked by stonewalls. Faint interior roads are scored by ancient wheel ruts which lead to the hidden cellars of forgotten farms with stone-lined wells.
A mixed beech, birch, and hemlock forest shades the headwaters of west-running Beech Brook, a sparkling necklace of clear pools where tiny jewel-like brook trout live. Pockets of rich soil nourish a colorful carpet of wildflowers growing under white ash and sugar maples in the spring. In summer, hikers might find scat from the resident black bears or red foxes that feed on pin cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or mountain ash berries. In winter hikers follow tracks of moose, deer, coyote, bobcat, fisher, otter, mink, and hare from the shadowy spruce forest along the upper portion of the Sunset Hill trail to the white pines of former pastures along the Old Farm Road trail.
The most-popular hiking trails ascend Sunset Hill. Ledges surrounding the partially-open summit of Sunset Hill provide views of eleven mile-long Lake Sunapee, Mount Sunapee, and distant peaks in the Green Mountains of Vermont. A side-trail leads to a cleared vista with views north to Mount Kearsarge and New Hampshire's White Mountains.
The Hay Reservation is near other protected lands including the historic Hay Family estate at The Fells and the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge on the shore of Lake Sunapee and near The Audubon Society Stony Brook Sanctuary.