Mine Falls Park
Nashua, New Hampshire
We visited this 325-acre nature area criss-crossed with trails on a heavily overcast morning with a storm front due later in the day. Which meant we had no sun to orient ourselves when we got turned around trying to follow some of the most confusing trail markers this hiking hound has ever seen! Having checked the weather forecast, my People were prepared with rain gear. A potential soaking to the skin was not the issue, especially not for my bouncing water hound of a sister, Brontë. Oh no, the problem with going an unexpected mile or two extra on an impromptu bummel is that The Boy’s legs are still rather short. And because my People were busy carrying someone else whose arthritis was especially bad due to the dampness, there was no question of carrying a tired tike the last stretch back to the car. (Happily, the lure of guacamole at a local Mexican restaurant kept The Boy going.)
But I digress…. We had started out on the purple Turtle Trail, at least according to the rustic, wood-carved map at the entrance. The only markers we saw, however, were a handful of newish red ones, and then a series of green, all labeled like squares on a bingo card (R23, G14). I’m sure the original map was a great guide back when you could actually see the corresponding markers nailed to trees along the trails. Today those old markers are nearly overgrown with tree bark, or their paint so faded as to render them nigh invisible. No matter, assuming we were still on the loop trail we’d seen on the map, we keep on going. Turns out we were on a different, and much lengthier, loop trail.
In an example of genuine irony, much of the time we were “lost” (I mean, exploring), we could hear the sounds of traffic and activity from the busy streets and businesses that border the park. At one point, we thought we recognized the far end of our parking lot through the trees – only to pop out of the woods to the surprise of both ourselves and the workers enjoying an outdoor lunch at a picnic table behind their office building. Good times!
For those who live and work in Nashua, the forest, wetlands, and open fields of Mine Falls Park provide a taste of the country in the midst of a busy (by New Hampshire standards) city. From fishing to cross-country skiing, jogging and kayaking, the park permits activities to suit many tastes. Even on an inclement Thursday, we saw many folks and a few dogs enjoying the place (but, you will note, we asked none for directions). Brontë and I will be back to stretch our legs here the next time our People visit Nashua for one of their semi-monthly shopping trips. But as a dog-friendly destination, one (like the Breakheart Reservation) that I’d actually go out of my way to visit, I think I’ll keep sniffing out the many other nature preserves and recreation areas in this part of New England. (May 2009)