Just over half a mile in length, the Mud Pond Trail (designated a National Recreation Trail in 2013) is wheelchair-accessible and leads to an observation platform on the shore of Mud Pond. Leaving the parking lot, the trail follows a gravel path and passes the junction with the Mooseway, a winter-only trail, in 0.2 miles. Soon the trail begins to switchback gently down a slope and reaches a 950-foot boardwalk. Follow the boardwalk through a lovely black spruce/northern white cedar swamp out to an observation platform that overlooks Mud Pond. Please stay on the boardwalk and use care if the boardwalk is wet. Dogs must be on a leash on this trail.
Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge was created in 1963 when New Hampshire Audubon and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department acquired 312 acres of land around Cherry and Little Cherry Ponds from the Brown Paper Company. Much of the credit for this acquisition goes to Tudor Richards, a longtime member and leader of New Hampshire Audubon. Inspired by Horace Wright’s The Birds of the Jefferson Region in the White Mountains, Richards made many birding trips to Cherry and Little Cherry Ponds, beginning in the late 1940s, and developed a deep love for the area. His vision and determination were instrumental in the creation of the refuge, which he called “Pondicherry”, a name found on early maps of the region.
In 2000, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired 670 acres of land adjacent to the Audubon tract and, partnering with New Hampshire Audubon and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, established the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge. Using money from the Federal Duck Stamp Program, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service continued to acquire additional tracts of land, so that the refuge now covers nearly 6500 acres.
(From the Friends of Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge website)
Wildlife at Pondicherry
Pondicherry has a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, moose, bears, beavers, snowshoe hares, turtles, butterflies, and dragonflies. Refuge checklists have been compiled for Birds, Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians, Fish, Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies), and Butterflies. These checklists, as well as more information about Pondicherry’s wildlife, can be found on the Birding and Wildlife pages on the Friends of Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge website.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, NH Audubon, NH Fish and Game Department, and the NH Trails Bureau manage Pondicherry as a conservation partnership. A volunteer organization called the Friends of Pondicherry helps maintain the trails and wildlife habitat and sponsors periodic field and work trips on the refuge. For more information, visit the Friends of Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge website.
The Mud Pond Trail is located off NH-116 in Jefferson, about 3 miles from US-2 in Jefferson or 6 miles from US-3 in Whitefield. Driving down NH-116 from Jefferson, look for a Silvio O. Conte sign on the left (coming from Whitefield, the sign will be on your right). Turn onto the gravel access road and drive a short distance to the parking lot. The Mud Pond Trail begins just beyond the kiosk. This parking lot is plowed in the winter, making it a good approach to the refuge in the winter months.
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