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Thread: What Ever Happened to the Bearcamp River Trail?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Amicus's Avatar
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    What Ever Happened to the Bearcamp River Trail?

    Skimming the AMC White Mtn. Guide, 26th Ed., shortly after its publication in 1998, I was excited by its big write-up - nearly 7 pages - of a new 17-mile trail sponsored by the Sandwich Land Trust Committee and "constructed through the efforts of countless volunteers." It more or less followed the Bearcamp River through Sandwich and Tamworth, to a point not too far from its end in Lake Ossipee, crossing six conservation areas, 10 privately managed tree farms and several historic sites, with a number of connecting road-walks

    I read a few accounts of this Trail in local newspapers around then and for a few years thereafter, although the last piece I remember comprised only complaints about unknown malefactors who kept stealing the trail signs. Since the Trail is roughly in my backyard, I looked forward to hiking it someday, when I didn't have other hiking plans.

    Sad to say, I seem to have waited too long. The Trail has virtually disappeared from the new (29th Ed.) Guide, which describes only the westernmost 0.6 mile, because it is a link in an enjoyable loop over the summit of Mt. Israel, from Mead Base (which I hiked a couple of summers ago). It dismisses the rest with a mention that some parts are overgrown, while others have been closed by owners.

    My efforts to Google a website for the SLTC found none, which would distinguish it from many other New Hampshire land preservation groups. Perhaps it has diminished since the 1990s? Do any of you know which sections (the 26th Ed. divides it into 4) may still be hikeable?

    One moral: Don't procrastinate.
    Last edited by Amicus; 06-27-2012 at 09:42 PM.

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    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    As it happens, NHPTV has an upcoming program to be broadcast late in July that includes an exploration of some part of the "Bear Camp River Trail" (sic).

    EDIT: Looks like the Sandwich Conservation Committee (an official town body) has taken over maintenance of the trail. There are references to such work in recent minutes of Commission meetings.
    Last edited by sardog1; 06-27-2012 at 09:41 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member gaiagirl's Avatar
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    I found this in an official and available Tamworth Town Document in reference to Recreation:

    Sandwich Conservation Commission (SCC) Ė The Bearcamp River Trail follows the
    banks of the Bearcamp River for 17 miles from Beede Falls in Sandwich Notch to
    Bartlett Mill Bridge in South Tamworth. The walk features a variety of riverside
    ecosystems of trees, plants, flowers and abundant wildlife.


    I know it doesn't answer the question at all specifically. For a specific answer, I would contact the Wonalancet Outdoor Club. I think someone involved should be able to give you specifics. I know a someone who likely knows the answer to this question, who lives in Sandwich and in the know. If you would like his name, PM me and I will respond. I'm NOT sure his number is listed, but I bet it is.
    Having lived in Chocorua for a couple of years, I can definitely guess some of the areas that this trails would have to include, but I realize that's not much help .
    Chris

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  4. #4
    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amicus View Post
    Do any of you know which sections may still be hikeable?
    I know the WMG editors did some careful research to remove sections that were closed or hard to follow, so the 29th edition is probably your best reference. If a section isn't listed there, you're on your own.

    It's sad to see it go as an end-to-end trail, but it takes a lot of support to keep these trails going over the long term. And so many organizations are struggling to maintain the kind of volunteer effort that was needed to create and maintain the trail.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Amicus's Avatar
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    sardog1:

    Thanks for the head's-up on that episode of NH Crossroads, which is scheduled to be shown three more times, next on Sunday, July 22 at 9 am. From your link, it seems that its 29 minutes will touch on a number of things, including what may be a short stretch of the BRT in Sandwich.

    Those Sandwich Con Comm minutes shed some helpful light. The SCC thinks it has some responsibility, at least, for sections of the BRT in Sandwich, but I found little there on exactly what may currently be hikeable. Most relevant is this excerpt from draft minutes of an SCC meeting in July 2011:

    The decision was made to have mention of the trail removed from the Appalachian Mountain guidebook as the trail is no longer open as a continuous trail.
    On a positive note, the minutes reveal that a member of the SCC (also its secretary) is very interested in the BRT and has been leading efforts to maintain and restore sections of it in Sandwich.

    gaiagirl:

    Thanks for your kind offer, but at least for now I'll have fun pursuing my own research. I did find an interesting trail-map on the Tamworth Conservation Commission website, of trails in the Jackman Pond Wildlife Area. The BRT passes through the south end of that map, and a Note cautions that the TCC does not maintain the BRT, which may be difficult to follow in places.

    psmart:

    I know first-hand, in another connection, how difficult it can be to find dedicated trail-maintainers for a long-distance trail like this, and the difficulties posed by development when only pieces of it are on protected land.

    I note that the very detailed 7-page description of the BRT that appeared in the 26th and 27th Editions of the AMC Guide disappeared from the 28th Ed. Unlike the new Edition, however, the 28th Ed. still showed the entire BRT on its Sandwich Range map. Its one-paragraph description gave no indication that any of its 17-mile length had been closed, and it referred to a BRT trail-map said to be available at local stores.
    Last edited by Amicus; 06-28-2012 at 11:01 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JacobH's Avatar
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    I have figured this out I think. Here's a link to the Committee minutes page:

    http://town.sandwich.nh.us/conservation/minutes/

    In the 2011 minutes:

    From October 11, 2011
    8.Trail Subcommitee : Jocelyn reported that she is working with a volunteer (Mark Longley ), to possibly relocate the Bear camp River Trail to bypass an area that was recently closed. Mark will compose a letter to landowners for this purpose.
    July 27, 2011
    1. Report on Bear camp River Trail clean up . Helen reported that the April clean-up was well attended .
    Three sections of the trail were cleared , and there will be further work done in the next few weeks . The decision was made to have mention of the trail removed from the Appalachian Mountain guidebook as the trail is no longer open as a continuous trail.
    Looks like there was a closure of part of the trail and a decision was made to remove it from the guidebook.

    edit: Oops, looks like Amicus beat me too it.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Of course, map and guide editors are in the unenviable position of having to decide what to include, and what to drop, from their publications. Sometime this is easy, like an official well-used trail in the WMNF. But adding or dropping a trail can be very challenging, and has to consider may factors including public interest, trail conditions, historical factors, and the wishes of the land owner and/or management agency. So the map maker (or guide book editor) can easily end up in the middle of a complex set of contradictory indicators.

  8. #8
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psmart View Post
    Of course, map and guide editors are in the unenviable position of having to decide what to include, and what to drop, from their publications. ...So the map maker (or guide book editor) can easily end up in the middle of a complex set of contradictory indicators.
    Exactly. I have been on the case of Steve Smith to remove routes such as the Bearcamp River Trail (even if continuous) from the White MOUNTAIN Guide and use the space for more trails to MOUNTAINS which are presently omitted.

    It could well be a fine trail deserving of publication, but in a different book. How about 50 Country Hikes near Freedom NH?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Amicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoySwkr View Post
    It could well be a fine trail deserving of publication, but in a different book. How about 50 Country Hikes near Freedom NH?
    A promising title. If someone writes it, I'd spring for a copy.

    I don't care whether the AMC White Mountain Hiking Guide includes the Bearcamp River Trail. It is the sort of trail about which, were it extant, I would expect to find more detailed information from another source. If you are suggesting that the AMC Guide should only include hiking trails that go to mountain summits, I disagree, but that is a topic for another thread.

    My interest is the extent to which the BRT remains hikeable, and I have already picked up some information on that in response to this thread.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Trail Bandit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoySwkr View Post
    Exactly. I have been on the case of Steve Smith to remove routes such as the Bearcamp River Trail (even if continuous) from the White MOUNTAIN Guide and use the space for more trails to MOUNTAINS which are presently omitted.

    It could well be a fine trail deserving of publication, but in a different book. How about 50 Country Hikes near Freedom NH?
    Perhaps since at least one of the people that seem to be trying to squash the Bearcamp River Trail is also the most vocal of the gang that has complained about the existence of the Ossipee Mountains Map and also was a
    major supporter of HB514, (both issues have been discussed here before), a good title for the new guide book could be "50 Country Hikes near the Ossipee Mountains and Taterboro Road".

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    Amicus,

    FWIW, three of us ran it back in '05 or '06 - a big loop incorporating the entire Bearcamp River Trail. I don't remember any trouble following the trail at that time.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Amicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stinkyfeet View Post
    Amicus,

    FWIW, three of us ran it back in '05 or '06 - a big loop incorporating the entire Bearcamp River Trail. I don't remember any trouble following the trail at that time.
    That's good to know. Now that it's "gone," I'll be checking it out.

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