Jun. 6—A self-guided nature trail is being designed for the 135-acre Slim Baker Area on Little Round Top Mountain in Bristol.
Open year-round for hiking, snowshoeing, and camping, it is maintained by the Slim Baker Foundation for Outdoor Education. Several of the foundation's trustees and its executive director recently walked the property with Jim Frohn, Grafton County Extension forester.
Frohn said the forested and craggy property of Little Round Top is rich with species diversity. At the beginning of the hike, Frohn noted that the rich white pine forest gives way to a low-bush blueberry and oak ecosystem.
On reaching the summit, Frohn found evidence of old char, an indication of a fiery history at some point in time. He said oak typically sprouts well after a fire. Frohn also pointed out the smaller, yet older trees growing along the rocky ridge, explaining it's typical for them to grow much slower due to a lack of nutrients and shading.
"From almost forgotten pasture lines of long-abandoned rock walls, to standing dead trees, the Slim Baker Area has a diverse ecosystem and historical relevance to share with those who walk its trails," the foundation said in a news release. "The creation of an interpretive trail will provide a robust educational opportunity for the Newfound Community and beyond."
The property was set up in 1953 as a memorial to Everett "Slim" Baker, a much-loved local conservation officer with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Baker spent his life teaching conservation and dreamed of setting up a "school for outdoor living" in the Newfound Lake area, according to the foundation's website.
Reba Follansbee Hipson, whose father had always spoken of donating the 125-acre tract of land around Little Roundtop to the town of Bristol, gave it to the newly formed nonprofit.
In late 1954, a site was cleared for the construction of a rustic lodge completed in 1956. Also in 1956, an adjacent 10-acre field was purchased by the fund and added to the original acreage. This property provided good access to the lodge, as well as offering some level terrain for campsites. A trail was cut to the summit of Little Roundtop.
Beginning in 1960, the area of the Little Roundtop summit now known as Inspiration Point was developed, offering a panoramic view of the Pemigewasset Valley and much of eastern New Hampshire.
A summer day camp under the direction of the Bristol Community Center has used the area and lodge during the summer months. Family groups hold picnics and reunions there. Scouts from the surrounding communities have used the area for meetings and campouts. Many school classes have enjoyed nature walks, the website said.
For more information, to make facilities reservations, or make a donation to the foundation, go to www.slimbaker.org.