First off, I checked out the Conway Recreation Trail. This is a multi-use trail (hike, bike, snowshoe, XC-ski) that runs along the bank of the Saco River (see map below). As a hiking trail, perhaps it would be best enjoyed as a stroll along the river on a sunny summer day. On this particular day, there was nothing of interest to photograph. If we ever get any significant snow, I think this would be a nice trail for some mellow XC-skiing. In the warm-weather months, it looks like a nice place for biking. When I was there, the trail was being used by folks as a place to walk their dog. So, here's yet another multi-use activity for this trail!
(NOTE: Clicking on any image in this report will slightly enlarge it.)
The other spot I checked out was a very small unnamed pond on the south side of Middle Mountain. This was a very, very easy bushwhack, and it is indeed a very, very small pond!! The top portion of the photo below shows the pond in real life (as viewed from its south shore), and the bottom portion shows the location of the pond on a topo map.
Very mixed conditions were encountered while hiking the Middle Mountain Trail en route to my short bushwhack adventure. I wore Microspikes for 100% of the time, but only actually needed them for about 50% of the time. Some parts of the trail were very icy, whereas other parts were completely free of ice and snow. The woods surrounding the trail were predominately snow-free! So "un-January"!! The next snapshot combo shows the two types of conditions that existed at various points along the trail.
Not always, but oftentimes a bushwhack will lead to some other discovery. The discovery resulting from this trek is as follows. From the Middle Mountain summit, I came upon a herd path heading southward that led to the small pond that I mentioned above. This herd path continued southward beyond the pond, but I didn't have time to follow it. I'm assuming that this path might continue along the ridgeline and lead to Rattlesnake Mountain and possibly onward to Redstone Ledge.
From looking at the online map of the Green Hills Preserve (click HERE for link) I suppose one could construct a loop hike by starting at the trailhead on Thompson Rd, then hike the Middle Mountain Trail to Middle Mountain, and from there, follow the herd path to Redstone Ledge. From Redstone Ledge, one could descend due west via a short bushwhack to pick up the Power Line Trail (a mountain-bike trail) and then head northward on this trail back to the trailhead on Thompson Road.
Or alternatively (to stay completely on land within the Green Hills Preserve), one could backtrack to Rattlesnake Mtn, and from there bushwhack eastward to the Mason Brook Snowmobile Trail, and then head northward to pick up the Black Cap Connector Trail and head westward on this trail to return to the trailhead on Thompson Road.
Shown below is a portion of the online map of the Green Hills Preserve area (click on map to enlarge).
To sum it up, these two mini-explorations provided something new to do, and "new" is always fun for me.