On New Year's Day (2013), I slapped on my XC skis and tried out a new XC-ski trail. David Govatski (President, Friends of Pondicherry) recently made me aware of work that is being done to develop this new trail at the Pondicherry Division of theSilvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Additional work needs to be done before this trail is formally opened (tentatively scheduled for October 2013). However, I was invited to try out the trail in its current condition.
The trail corridor utilizes old logging roads. Some of the work remaining to be done includes remedying issues associated with 15 ditches that bisect the trail. About half of the these ditches have standing water even when the air temperature is below freezing. The hazard is that skis can get wet which means having to stop and remove the ski to wipe it dry and scrape off the snow/ice build-up. With some careful maneuvering, I successfully avoided all but one of these wet spots on the outbound leg of my trek. On the return leg, I avoided all of them.
I'll "cut to the chase" and say that I am thoroughly impressed with this 1.6 mile trail which is slated to be named the Mooseway XC-trail. Although the Mooseway is designed primarily as a XC-ski trail, the intent is to allow snowshoe traffic as well. This new trail will provide a non-motorized alternative to people seeking a visit to Cherry and Little Cherry Ponds without any snowmobile traffic.
The Mooseway is accessed from the Mud Pond Trailhead off of Route 116 in Jefferson where there is a large parking lot which is plowed for winter use. The trail begins a short distance from the Mud Pond trailhead at the point where the Mud Pond Trail makes a sharp right turn. The Mooseway ends at a junction point along the Little Cherry Pond Trail, about 0.2 mile east of Little Cherry Pond.
Map showing general location of Mooseway XC-Trail corridor
And so with that rather lengthy introduction, here are some snapshots taken during my XC-ski adventure which included skiing along the Mooseway XC-Trail, as well as the Little Cherry Pond Trail, plus the Rampart Trail which runs along the shore of the larger pond which is simply known as Cherry Pond.
The next two photos show scenes from the Mooseway XC-Trail which leads you through sections consisting of mixed hardwoods and conifers, as well as through a beautiful section consisting entirely of spruce.
Segment of Mooseway XC-Trail leading through mixed hardwoods and conifers
Segment of Mooseway XC-Trail leading through a beautiful spruce forest
Once you reach the Little Cherry Pond Trail, you have the option of turning right and trekking down to Little Cherry Pond, or you can go turn left and head for Cherry Pond. I opted to go left and take in the views from the shoreline of Cherry Pond. Then, as part of the return leg of my adventure, I would pay a visit Little Cherry Pond.
The eastern end of the Little Cherry Pond Trail terminates at a rail corridor. The next photo shows the rail corridor, but it was taken from a point slightly south of where the Little Cherry Pond Trail intersects it.
Rail corridor as viewed from a point slightly south of where Little Cherry Pond Trail intersects it
The Rampart Trail is directly across the railroad tracks from the eastern terminus of the Little Cherry Pond Trail. This trail provides access to excellent views from the western shore of Cherry Pond. The vistas that I find particularly appealing are those of the Presidential Mountain Range, and Cherry Mountain.
A persistent cloud cover partially obscured the Presidential Range, as can be seen in the next two photos.
Cloud-covered Presidential Range as viewed from shoreline of Cherry Pond
Slightly zoomed view of cloud-covered Presidential Range
Although the vista of the Presidential Range was partially obstructed by clouds, Cherry Mountain was fully visible with all its shapely beauty. The sharply-pointed Owl's Head peak on the northern end of the mountain is particularly prominent.
Cherry Mountain with pointed Owl's Head peak particularly prominent
As stated earlier in this report, on the return leg of my trek, I made a short side trip to Little Cherry Pond. The sun was low in the sky by the time I arrived, which made it difficult to take snapshots that were particularly flattering to this body of water. Shown below is a photo looking toward the pond's northern shore where the sunlight wasn't a factor.
Looking toward northern shoreline of Little Cherry Pond
As I neared the end of my adventure for the day, the sun was about to dip below the horizon. As I looked behind me while skiing along the Mooseway, there was a nice vista of Cherry Mountain being illuminated by the setting sun.
Cherry Mountain viewed from Mooseway XC-Trail at sunset
And then, as I turned to look westward, the sky was being "colorized" with shades of orange and yellow.
Western sky at sunset, as viewed from Mooseway XC-Trail
To sum it up, when fully completed, the Mooseway will offer an excellent opportunity for XC skiers and snowshoers to experience remote sections of the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge.