Snowshoeing, hiking, bird watching, nature study View All
What makes this place special?
Atlantic white cedar swamps are rare in New Hampshire, comprising only about one percent of the state’s wetlands. The swamps can seem mysterious when you encounter the tall cedars covered with a dark wet tangle of lichens, their tilted gray trunks and spidery roots reaching into a deep bed of sphagnum moss. At fifty acres in size, the Loverens Mills Cedar Swamp is the second largest and considered the highest quality boreal cedar swamp in New Hampshire. Pollen studies have revealed that Atlantic white cedar has been present for more than 4,000 years in this remarkable place. A variety of boreal flora grow alongside the cedar trees, including black spruce, tamaracks, mountain holly, smooth winterberry , and beautiful rosebud azaleas. Groundcover plants like sheep laurel, Canadian bunchberry, and yellow loosestrife add splashes of color when they bloom in late spring and early summer, and in fall smudges of rust and red creep in with the changing foliage of cinnamon fern, blueberry, huckleberry, and red maple.
How was this place protected?
Situated at 1,040 feet in elevation, the cedar swamp is surrounded by high hills that funnel cold air down into the swamp, simulating a climate found further north and giving the swamp its boreal character. Loverens Mill Preserve contains more than two miles of frontage along the rugged North Branch of the Contoocook River, along with other wetlands including beaver-influenced marshes and a red maple basin swamp. Spruce-fir, hemlock and mixed hardwood forests provide excellent upland habitat for moose, bobcat, deer and bear.
For decades, The Nature Conservancy, the Forest Society, NH Audubon, the Harris Center, and Sweet Water Trust have worked in collaboration to conserve large tracts of contiguous forest along with outstanding wetland complexes in the vicinity of Andorra Forest, Loverens Mill, and Willard Pond. Consequently, Loverens Mill Cedar Swamp is set within a conservation landscape that now contains some 15,000 contiguous acres of protected forestland. The preserve’s original 361 acres came out of a creative 1998 deal involving the Conservancy, the Forest Society, NH Fish & Game, NH Department of Transportation, and a private timber company during which more than 900 acres were protected through a collection of outright acquisitions and conservation easements. In 1999, we acquired an adjoining 272 acres in Stoddard, and then in 2006 were able to reach agreement to purchase another 635 acres in Windsor which protected most of the watershed draining into the cedar swamp.
How can I explore this place?
A three-mile trail system provides access to the Atlantic white cedar swamp, forests, and rivershore along the North Branch of the Contoocook. To reach these trails, follow a woods road from the parking area southwesterly along the North Branch for about .25 mile. Along the way, you will see the remains of the Loverens Mill site and dam, originally constructed in 1798. The mill was run by the Josiah Loveren family from the 1860s until the early 1900s, and produced timbers, shingles, and siding for the local area. After ¼ mile, the preserve entrance and trail is off to the right. Shortly after entering the preserve, a 200-yard boardwalk leads into the heart of cedar swamp. Beyond the boardwalk, the trail travels through mixed hardwoods and softwoods and passes several large glacial erratic boulders deposited here by the last ice age. At 0.3 mile beyond the boardwalk, a trail junction marks the beginning of a loop that explores the river’s shoreline and extensive wetlands. You can view the nearby hills of the Forest Society’s adjacent Pierce Reservation from here in the winter. There are a few steep sections along the trail, but most of it is relatively easy hiking.
Trail maps and further information:
Download the Loverens Mill Map & Guide. Guides are also available in the preserve kiosk.
Special Visitation Guidelines:
• Hunting is allowed in the western and northern portions of the preserve, but precluded in proximity to the hiking trail and cedar swamp (see trail map for detail)