Hiking the Beech Hill Trails in Dublin

We love hiking new (to us) trails, so with a break in our day of just a couple of hours, we decided to check out the trails on Beech Hill in Dublin and get a little exercise in!  The Beech Hill Hiking Trails are located on a 62.7-acre property protected by conservation easement through the Monadnock Conservancy.  The property is the former site of a substance abuse and treatment center (known as Beech Hill) that closed in 2001.  In 2007, the Beech Hill-Dublin Lake Watershed Association acquired the property and began restoring the site, removing all but one of the buildings and eventually creating a network of trails that provide views of both Mount Monadnock and parts of the Wapack Range.

Lucky for us, the property is only about 10 minutes away. To get there, take Route 101 to Dublin and head north on Dublin Road (adjacent to the Fire Station).  Go about 0.4 miles and turn left on Beech Hill Road.  Travel about 0.2 miles on Beech Hill Road (paved, but a little rough) to the parking area and trailhead with kiosk.  (A full trail map and guide for the Beech Hill Hiking Trails is available on the Monadnock Conservancy website.)

We took that yellow zig zag trail…because we could 🙂

Our plan was to take the Zig Zag Trail to the top of the hill, then make our way over to the South Overlook, head back to the Ridge Trail to stop at Eagle Rock, then continue on the Old Carriage Road back down and around to the parking area.  Right away, we noted the that trails seem rather lightly used.  Although they were still very easy to follow and well-marked, the ferns and blackberry bushes were starting to push their way back in to the path a little bit.  Given the light use of the property, we figured we might see more wildlife than we typically see on other trails, and sure enough we were not disappointed!  Before we got to the top of the Zig Zag Trail, we came across a fairly large porcupine a little ways off in the brush.  See him? (in the photo below)  No?  Oh.  Since this was both of our first real-life experience with a porcupine, we were both excited to see him (or her), but clearly, a porcupine in the brush does not photograph well.

 From the top of the Zig Zag Trail, we started to make our way towards the South Outlook, or so we thought. After a short bit of travel on the Old Carriage Road, the trail emerges to a dirt road that passes some large fenced-off cell towers poorly disguised as trees.  We continued on the dirt road until it sort of faded away into a field of wildflowers.  At this point, we really couldn’t identify a trail per se, but it seemed like we were headed in the right direction from the map.  So we continued on until we came upon the old white mansion that had been used as the treatment center.  Surrounded by chain link fence with broken windows and doors, the house itself was a sad sight, but the view of the Wapack Range from that location was really nice.

 At the time, we were pretty sure this was not the South Outlook we had been looking for, but as we had seen signs of no other trails, we decided to head back towards the cell towers and back to the Old Carriage Road to continue our plan.  But for better or worse, we are not ones to give up easily, so once we were back at the cell towers, we decided to try one more time to see if there was some trail marker we had missed… and it turns out we had!  See… on the utility pole… the three white circle reflectors?  (There is actually a 4th one on the ground which is what caught our eyes.) That’s the trail marker!  And beyond the brushy area at the edge of the field, more round white trail markers can be seen on trees in the woods.

The trail markers are small, but they are there.

This is the view from the cell tower area. The trail markers are on the second utility pole from the right.

So after just a short walk in the woods, we were at the South Outlook… and we were so glad to have found it.  The view of Mount Monadnock with Dublin Lake in the foreground was shady, cool, and  really great!

Then it was back to our plan to take the Old Carriage Road to the Ridge Trail and Eagle Rock, another nice outlook where we added a geocache to our finds, and back to the Old Carriage Road for the “long route” back to the car.  The Old Carriage Road seemed a bit longer than we were expecting and we had to pay attention to follow it closely as there were a few trails that broke off in other directions, causing us to stop and check our map at times.  It also crossed over some of the Dublin School’s cross-country ski trails a few times (which we didn’t expect), but eventually we passed the start of the Zig Zag Trail and were back at our car.  Our total time hiking (including our missteps and geocaching) was about two hours.

We are thrilled to have “discovered” this trail network so close to home and can’t wait to visit again to experience the natural beauty in other seasons.