Old growth at Sheldrick Forest Preserve in Wilton, New Hampshire.
Sheldrick Forest Old growth at Sheldrick Forest Preserve in Wilton, New Hampshire. © Eric Aldrich/The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Sheldrick Forest Preserve

New Hampshire

Sheldrick Forest is a living, thriving symbol of what a group of citizens can accomplish by working together.

Before European settlement, New Hampshire’s valleys were covered in mature forests of centuries-old, 200-foot high trees. Almost all of that forest was cleared for timber or pasture by the mid-1800s, making mature forests a rare commodity today. Walking into the mature groves in the 227-acre Sheldrick Forest in Wilton is like stepping back in time, its cathedral-like stands of 150-foot high white pines, hemlocks, and oaks provide a glimpse into the pre-settlement wilderness that once stretched across New England. Sheldrick Forest contains trees that reach diameters of 30 inches and have escaped logging for close to 200 years.  

The preserve’s rolling topography includes several eskers, a ravine forest, seeps and streams, adding to its wild character.  Sheldrick Forest is part of a larger conservation landscape of unbroken forest including the Forest Society’s more than 1,000-acre Heald Tract. These large and unfragmented forests provide breeding habitat for interior forest nesting birds like wood thrushes, ovenbirds and scarlet tanagers, along with uplands, streams and wetlands for wide-ranging mammals like black bear and moose to find food, shelter and cover.

Under the thoughtful stewardship of the Sheldrick family beginning in 1897, large sections of this forest had been left undisturbed for more than a century. When the last member of the family passed away in 1994, the property was sold to a developer. Slated to succumb to timber 

harvest, gravel mining and a residential subdivision, The Nature Conservancy—together with local forester Swift Corwin, Sweet Water Trust and scores of neighbors—instead negotiated the purchase of the property from the developer in 1996, establishing the preserve and enabling the mature stands of pine, oak, and hemlock to remain intact and flourish into the future.

Exploring the Sheldrick Forest is an easy to moderate endeavor on the preserve’s 3.8 miles of trails. From the parking area, Helen’s Path drops into the valley of large trees along Morgan’s Brook. The Laurel Ridge Trail climbs an esker ridge which overlooks Morgan Brook and a steep ravine making it a great place to observe the beauty of the forest. Other trails meander throughout the preserve, while the Heald Connection links Sheldrick Forest to another six miles of hiking trails on the Forest Society’s Heald Tract.  

Enjoy the Preserve Responsibly:

• Leave No Trace—please keep the preserve clean by carrying out your trash (and any that you find).

• No camping or open fires allowed.

• Please stay on marked trails.

• Foot traffic only; horses, bikes and motorized vehicles are prohibited.

• Pets are not permitted; help us protect wildlife on the preserve and be respectful of other hikers by leaving your pets at home.

• Hunting, trapping and fishing are not permitted.

• Respect the natural world around you! Do not remove or destroy plants, wildlife, minerals or cultural items.