Field Trip Directions:
1. Headwaters, Betty Meadows, Northwood Meadows State Park
From the Lee Traffic Circle, travel west on Route 4 for 11 miles. You should see a sign for Northwood Meadows State Park on the left of Route 4. Just beyond the sign, turn left onto the road to the park where you will see a gate. During the school year, the gate is usually closed. By contacting the park service (603-436-1552), someone might open the gate for you. Otherwise, you will have to walk to Meadow Lake. The walk is about .6 of a mile. When you reach the outhouse (which comes in handy), take a right down over the hill. The trek to the lake is a short distance. The students of Mast Way have enjoyed the walk, but consolidate your equipment and ask students to take turns carrying things.
As you approach the lake, there is a swamp on the right of the road. That is a good place to collect water samples. It is shallow and on warm days you may see things swimming in it. On the left is the lake. We’ve often seen turtles sunbathing on logs as we approached the water. Mast Way School classes spent as much as 2 hours collecting data at the headwaters.
Students easily conducted oxygen, acidity, temperature, and current speed tests at this site. There was no current, but testing it offered a good comparison for data that were collected at other locations. Water samples we collected contained daphnia and many other small organisms which were interesting to study later in the classroom. Because of the dam at one end, the water was very still. The vegetation included water lilies and other marsh-like plants that provided a good contrast for those in swifter-moving waters at later field trip sites. We found many signs of animal life: turtles, frogs in the water, woodpecker holes in trees, stumps and trees cut by beaver, lots of holes around fallen logs, spider webs, etc. There’s a small “cove” where an adult with tall rubber boots can stand and fish out bugs, etc.. There are trails to follow so groups can split up to explore different areas.
2a. Mary E. Folsom Blair Community Park, Epping
Note: Originally John Folsom Conservation Area was the recommended stop in Epping, but at this site many large trees have fallen across the trails making for a difficult trek to reach the river. Also, the vegetation at the edge of the river is thick, making water tests difficult.
Return to Route 4 heading east which is a right turn.
Go 3 miles and turn right on NH--Route 43 south.
Turn left onto Routes 107 and 43 at the stop sign.
Soon after this turn, the bus will pass Freese's Pond and Dam and will basically follow the route of the Lamprey River.
Stay on Route 107.
Bear left where Old Route 101 and Route 27 join Route 107.
In Raymond, take Route 27 to West Epping.
Go 1.6 miles and turn left onto Folsom Mill Road.
The park is a short distance down this road. Follow it into the park where there is plenty of parking.
It takes about 40 minutes to drive from Northwood Meadows to Mary Blair Park.
There is a kiosk with information about Mary Blair and the park. There often is a portable toilet near the kiosk. Beyond the kiosk and toilet is an area where you can look out over the river and see remnants of the dam that was removed in 2011, a bridge, and parts of mill foundations. The lower part of this opening could be used for water tests, but it is rocky. If you walk over some of the short trails, you’ll see more rock formations. A good spot to conduct water studies is the wide open area where the Epping Conservation Commission’s annual Lamprey River Canoe Race begins. It slopes gradually and is not rocky. Beyond this canoe launching area, the banks of the river become high and steep, so children should not conduct their tests further down the river. The park road continues on with the river on one side with steep banks and a baseball field on the other side. See the link below for a map of the various rock structures.
This is a link to the Epping Conservation Commission page pf properties.
This link will take you to information about Mary Blair Park.
2b. Epping Town Hall: Another possible site in Epping is a park behind the Epping Town Hall. Access it from the town hall parking lot off Route 27. From Mary Blair Park, continue on Route 27 toward Epping village. After crossing Main Street, go past a pizza restaurant and dry cleaner. Immediately turn left into the parking lot. It’s a large lot with room for a bus to park. Walk to the grassy area behind the town hall, a tall brick building with a steeple. Cross the grassy area and see the Lamprey River. To the right of the grassy area is a trail that leads down to the river. As you walk the trials, look for signs of rock and brick structures. There’s also a large iron hook attached to a large boulder in the middle of the river. Further down the trail is a flat area where you can conduct water tests. There are also lots of different ferns and wild plants growing along the river.
3. Wadleigh Falls in Lee
Permission to use any private property must be obtained before planning to use it as a part of the field trip.
Return to Route 27, turning right toward Epping village.
Proceed to Route 125.
Turn left onto Route 125 toward Lee.
Take a right onto Highway 152. (There’s a stop light at this intersection.)
Continue on 152 until you cross the bridge over the Lamprey. Park at the small turn-off on Tuttle Road.
This site is best viewed in passing. This is not an appropriate site when the river is high in the spring. Access is available only with permission of local private landowners. With small, well-supervised groups, there are some interesting historic features: supports for an old flue, parts of the dam, and the depressions in the bank where vats holding chemicals to prepare leather were placed. Visitors might also find old leather scraps, remains of an old wagon, bits of crockery, fishing line, beverage cans, and other evidence that humans have used the area from the past to the present time.
4. Heron Point Sanctuary (near the mouth of the river), Newmarket
Continue to Newmarket.
In Newmarket, turn left onto Route 108 and continue over the bridge.
Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right onto Bay Road.
Drive about 1/2 mile until you come to a mobile home park.
Turn right and drive into the mobile home park.
Drive a short distance to the Heron Point Sanctuary.
Turn right onto the dirt road and continue to the parking lot.
This drive takes about 30 minutes.
Gather and study the sign with a map of the sanctuary.
Then, keeping the students on the upper outlook platform, look across the river at the Newmarket mills.
This part of the river is tidal. As the tide is coming in, the water flows upstream. As the tide goes out, the water flows toward Great Bay. If you visit Heron Point at low tide or somewhat low tide, you can conduct water tests, but you have to be careful because it is rocky. At low tide, you can reach a flat, muddy “beach.” Behind the map, there is a wooden stairway and a large platform. From the platform you have a great view of the Newmarket mills, the dam and the Lamprey River. We walked to the platform, then talked about the history of this site and observed the differences in the river. There are paths down to the water around the platform. (You could safely conduct tests at the public landing on the other side of the river at the Newmarket public boat landing at Schanda Park. There you would see the historic fish weir and a kiosk describing town history, including old photos and maps.) The vegetation along the trails was different from the other two sites. Huge boulders were scattered throughout the area and a thick stand of hemlocks covered the hillside. At various times we’ve seen otters, ducks, cormorants, and gulls in this part of the river. (Plan to carry a map that shows the river ending in Great Bay.) The map in the parking lot showed the location of a Native American grinding stone used to grind seeds for flour. Looking for the grinding stone would be a fascinating ending to your trip. There are also several geocaches located along the trails. There is no bathroom at this site.