Hammond Brook Trail

Hammond Brook
Map:  Hammond Brook (NRPC Map detail)
Length: 1.4 miles, PMEC Kiosk to Post 4
Identification: Blue blazes
Difficulty:
    Walking: Easy to Post 3, Moderate Posts 3 to 4.
    XC skiing: Easy to Moderate to Post 2.  
                      Beyond Post 2, difficult, rocky.
     Mountain biking: Permitted only from Brook Road
                     parking area to Hemlock Trail for access
                     to Hemlock and Bicentennial Trails.

The Hammond Brook Trail goes west (left) from the PMEC parking lot at the kiosk. It follows Hammond Brook and climbs to the reservation’s western boundary and then drops down to its terminus at Post 4 on the Eagle Trail. Return is by the Eagle Trail. Other trails connect, making variations in the traveled route possible. The upper section of the trail is rocky, making it more challenging and less rewarding (unpleasant) for skiers.

A self-guiding walk with its own brochure (available at the PMEC kiosk) follows the Hammond Brook Trail to the Timber Trail to Old Brook Road Trail. The signs and brochure were James Gagne’s Eagle Scout project.

Log: From the PMEC kiosk go west (left facing kiosk) on a former logging road, passing a large white oak on the left by a seasonal stream.  Why do you think the tree was left by early loggers?
At .1 miles reach Post 1 and a log yard where trees from a selective harvest in 2002 were gathered and sorted for the mill. The ACC practices forest management to improve the forest stand and habitat for wildlife. Any net revenues are used for land protection. Post 1 stands between the start of the Bicentennial and Hemlock Trails
leaving on the left, south side.
At .3 miles cross a small stream and bridge. In 400 feet more note an older log yard marked by pushed up boulders. In this area large rhododendrons are all that remain from a 1970-era effort to create a
wildflower area. White pines are rapidly reclaiming the area for the forest.
At .4 miles, come to Post 2. The Timber Trail turns right (North) returning to Old Brook Road. The Hammond Brook Trail continues generally beside the brook. In 500 feet note a red oak in the crevice
of a boulder. Did the tree split the rock after an acorn found shelter in an existing opening? Or was it ice?
At .6 miles and Post 3 the Eagle Trail leaves on the right (North). In 200’ cross one branch of Hammond Brook. In 300’ more (.7 miles from PMEC) leave the brook and turn right up the slope past a large broken Hemlock as the trail circles a group of large boulders.
At .85 miles, note hemlocks that appear to have been sheared and stunted---a sign of porcupine activity. Their den was nearby under some boulders. In the winter, porky drags his tail in the snow, leaving a brush mark between its footprints.  The trail continues, paralleling the Reservation’s west boundary for .4 miles passing over a rocky, uneven route.
At 1.2 miles, swing right and down hill around another large white oak. This portion of the trail is a former logging road. The trail here is close to the NBAS boundary.
Note the warnings on trespass. The effect of light on tree development is very noticeable. Along the road light is more abundant, allowing the young hemlocks to flourish. Under the older trees little light reaches the forest floor and there is less understory*.
At 1.3 miles, as the trail levels off, note the two-foot diameter burl in a yellow birch on the right. This type of growth may start from insect damage and continue as a cancer.
At 1.4 miles reach Post 4 and the Eagle Trail (yellow). Return .25 mile straight ahead to Post 3 on the Hammond Brook Trail or go left .5 mile to Post 5 on the Timber Trail.

*The term understory includes shrubs and young trees growing near ground level. When the canopy of older trees is dense little light can penetrate to the ground, inhibiting seeds from sprouting and new seedlings in their growth.  Where the understory is sparse, there is less food for browsing deer and other animals and less shelter for all the forest denizens.