Open to the Public
Why is this land special?
This nearly 400-acre preserve features a unique saltmarsh and a rich upland forest community, providing habitat for deer, wild turkey, and fisher.
It is easy to leave behind the feel of civilization in the Lubberland Creek Preserve near Great Bay in Newmarket and Durham. The preserve’s trails explore a mix of streams, swampy wetlands, grasslands, and dry forested uplands pocked with vernal pools. Rare Blanding’s turtles and spotted salamanders use the vernal pools while the wetlands support beaver, osprey and great blue herons. The preserve also contains one of the largest salt marshes in the Great Bay Estuary providing visitors with great birding opportunities and expansive views of Great Bay.
Lubberland Creek and the adjoining Crommet Creek watershed comprise the largest remaining intact block of forest and freshwater wetlands (nearly 5,000 acres) adjoining Great Bay. These watersheds have several rare and exemplary natural communities including salt marshes, dry Appalachian Oak-hickory forests, and an extensive system of freshwater marshes and beaver ponds. The Conservancy’s North Atlantic Coast Ecoregional Plan lists the Crommet and Lubberland Creek conservation area as one of 18 core areas to protect in the Great Bay watershed.
- Extensive oak-hickory and hemlock-beech-oak-pine forests providing habitat for songbirds, porcupine, fishers, deer and other wildlife.
- Bayshore has extensive salt marsh and associated bird habitat.
- Extensive beaver pools and wetlands basins that sit between Crommet and Lubberland creek drainages.
- High-quality vernal pool complex supporting reptiles, amphibians and insect species. All using vernal pools on this tract for at least part of their life cycle include wood frogs, spring peepers, salamanders and the rare Blanding's turtle.
- Extensive waterfowl habitat associated with upland beaver flowages and streams with species, including wood duck, black duck, mallard, common mergansers and ring-neck duck occur north of Durham Point Road.
- A great blue heron rookery, with one nest occupied by a pair of ospreys.
How was this land protected?
While our efforts to protect Lubberland Creek began in the mid-1990s, conservation of this critical habitat would not have been possible without the efforts of a grassroots campaign 20 years earlier. In the early 1970s, Aristotle Onassis acquired options to buy one third of the land in Durham in order to build what would have been the world’s largest oil refinery. He planned to build an oil terminal offshore on the Isles of Shoals where incoming crude oil would be pumped into a pipeline that would carry the oil to the mainland in Rye and then on to the refinery in Durham. Onassis had the strong support of New Hampshire governor, Meldrim Thompson, and the Manchester Union Leader newspaper. Several longtime landowners in the Crommet Creek Conservation Area refused to sell land to Onassis’ agents, and a local opposition group called Save Our Shores mounted a highly publicized grassroots campaign that eventually led to the defeat of the refinery proposal at both the local and state level in 1974. Standing in the Lubberland Creek Preserve today, it is hard to imagine the scale of industrial development that could have engulfed the preserve and surrounding areas.
How can I explore the property?
Check out the Sweet Trail! On the south side of Bay Road, a .3-mile spur trail leads down to the edge of Great Bay at the mouth of Lubberland Creek. The terrain is gentle and footing is fairly level. On the north side of Bay Road, The Sweet Trail navigates along wetland edges, rocky outcrops, stone walls, old foundations and over Jeff's Hill. The terrain is somewhat moderate, with some uneven footing in places. Download a trail map (pdf, 1040 kb).
- From Route 108 in Durham or Newmarket: turn onto the loop road known as Durham Point Road (from the north end in Durham) or Bay Road (from the south end in Newmarket).
- The preserve is 6.3 miles from the north end of this road, or 1.4 miles from the south end.
- The parking area is located on the west side of the road at the trail head, with room for approximately 6 cars.