Harding Trail

Map:  Harding Trail Map (NRPC map detail
Length:  0.9 mile. Post 13 to Post 15 on Highland Trail
Identification: Yellow Blazes
Difficulty: Walking: Easy 
                  XC skiing: Moderate
                  Mountain biking:  Not allowed.

This trail is named for Herbert Harding as is this section of Joe English Reservation. Herb was a member of the ACC who enjoyed working with young people on trail projects as their mentor and coworker. The Harding Trail was created along with the Pine Trail with XC skiing in mind by Eagle Scout Mark Votaw. Originally, the trail formed a figure eight. It is now realigned into a single loop onto higher and drier ground. 

Log:  The trail begins one half mile from PMEC at Post 13 on the Highland Trail (Blue). The trail crosses a ledgey area with many dead trees, probably the result of gypsy moth infestations followed by abnormally dry summers several years ago. Note depressions with small mounds at .2 mile. These features can be formed as large uprooted trees slowly decay and drop the dirt and rocks raised with roots. In this case, the 1938 hurricane was a probable culprit.  Caution: Uprooted tree stumps can be inviting and dangerous spots for young people to play.  Those rocks in the root mass are going to drop someday.  
At .3 miles, cross a small bridge. Hemlocks on the left cover the ledges above Clean Brook. The blue-blazed boundary of NBAS is on the left. (See general prohibition on entry into NBAS). The trail now swings right (south) and begins a rise to a height of land in .6 mile. In this area, note rubbing on trees by deer and pruning of hemlocks by porcupines that have their den nearby.  The trail slopes downward with occasional views to the west and a view over a large vernal pool*.
At .8 miles a narrow, twisting section of trail avoids an older and much wetter section, instead crossing a small stream. Rejoin the Highland Trail at Post 15, one-quarter of a mile from Post 13 to the right. The Plumb Forest parking area is approximately .6 mile to the left.

* Vernal pools are a special type of wetland that may only hold standing water a few months of the year. However in that brief period, they provide important habitat for breeding salamanders, wood frogs and fairy shrimp without fish to prey upon them