Added by Shannon Kalahan
The Pulpit Rock Conservation area in Bedford, NH is a 338-acre parcel of land that features a gorge and ledge named “Pulpit Rock”, wetlands, a brook, some waterfalls when the water levels are high enough, interesting glacial rock formations and the remnants of Gage’s Mill, along with forest and fauna. Basically, if you’re looking for a short hiking adventure or bird-watching outing, this small conservation area is a must-see.
We began our hike at Kennard Trailhead, which is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. The approximate GPS address is 596 New Boston Road, Bedford, NH, though in reality the parking area is about 0.2 miles west of the junction of New Boston Rd and Esther Drive.
These trails are very well maintained and labeled, with color coded arrows on the trees to keep you on the correct path.
The first section of trail is a boardwalk through some wetland and tall grasses, which quickly opens up into a typical New England forest. We followed Kennard trail (white markers) for 0.6 miles to the Pulpit Rock Ledge, which looks down into a scenic gorge. This also happens to be the junction of several different trails, and a kiosk with an in-depth history of the Conservation area.
After a quick perusal of the history of Pulpit Rock, we decided to take the Ravine Trail (orange) down into the gorge, with an ultimate goal of reaching the site of the old Gage’s Mill. At the time of our visit, the map colors had faded a bit so it wouldn’t hurt to prepare before your trip by either printing a map or saving a copy to your phone.
The Ravine trail involved some sections of rock scramble and a few overlooks that may make you a touch nervous if you’re afraid of heights. We also hiked in a light rain/mist, which left the rock slick (and there was limited cell service) so beware the effects of the weather when you go.
As we entered into the gorge, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of calm. At the bottom of your first decline, your trail opens up below Pulpit Rock Ledge, and which gives you a nice view of the glacial erosion, and in wetter seasons, a small waterfall. From there, you continue along the gorge, climbing up and down amongst the boulders, with boardwalks and bridges installed in some spots to help the hikers’ progress.
Eventually, the gorge begins to give way to more typical New England forest mix of pine and deciduous trees, and the Ravine Trail ends in another multi-trail junction. Since our goal was to see the old mill ruins, we took up the white trail again. The walk to the mill was very brief, with the mill site to our right and a small pond / wetland to the left.
Just to avoid the slick rocks on the return trip, we followed the white trail for the entire hike back to the parking lot (which sweeps around the side of the gorge). This trail, named Tufts until the Pulpit Rock junction, where it takes up the name Kennard, is your standard walk through the woods.
This conservation area does not have amenities, and is dog friendly.
- Sturdy hiking shoes
- Water and snacks
- Camera and tripod
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