Hiking at Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

New Hampshire Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge (Airport Road Trailhead)

Added by Shannon Kalahan

Distance : 3 miles round trip to the large pond, approximately 5.2 miles of hiking roundtrip to see 2 out of the 3 ponds on the propertyDuration : A few hoursDifficulty : EasyBeautiful views of the Presidential, Pliny, Crescent, and Dartmouth mountain ranges as well as Cherry Mountain reflecting in the refuge's two large pondsVariety of local flora and fauna to be seen, including 200 species of bird, moose, beaver, otters, black bear, snowshoe hares and coyotePopular activities include photography, bird watching, day hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting (designated areas only), cross-country skiing and snow-mobiling

As hiking in the White Mountain area goes, this is a pretty easy one. This is a family friendly hike along a rail trail and well maintained forest trails. The main attraction here isn't the difficultly. The main attraction here is the spectacular views and the abundant wildlife.

This trail begins on Airport Road in Jefferson, NH. If you are coming from Rt 116, the trailhead parking lot is actually a little confusing to find, since the road curves through an airport complex. From the junction of Rte. 3 and Rte. 116 in Whitefield, go 1.6 miles south on Rte. 3. Take a left (east) on Colby Rd and go 1.5 miles to Hazen Rd. Go right (east) past Airport Marsh and through the airport complex for 1.6 miles to trail parking on left.

If you are coming from Rt 115, turn onto Airport Rd and go about 1.5 miles to a small parking lot on the right.

The trail into the large pond, which has the better of the two views, is about 1.5 miles. The trail passes primarily through lowland spruce – fir forest, though there are a few areas of wetland and lots of flowers, ferns, etc mixed in along the way. At 1.5 miles, you come to the Waumbek Junction, where you can choose to continue straight or take a right.

If you continue straight, the trail will join up with some active railroad tracks, and eventually put you at the trailhead for the smaller pond. Taking a right will bring you to a viewing platform where you get a fabulous view of Cherry Pond and the surrounding mountains. If you choose to continue past the platform, you'll stay parallel to the shore and eventually the path opens up into another marsh and wetlands area. Again, there are great views of the mountains, and on a calm day, lovely reflections in the water.

If you choose to continue on to Little Cherry Pond, you will see floating islands just off the shore of Cherry Pond, and the official marker designating the refuge as a National Natural Landmark (this is found at the junction of an off-shoot Shore Trail and the railroad tracks).

Little Cherry Pond trail is much narrower, and slick at times. It is also, in my experience, much buggier. This is where you'll be glad you have the bug spray. Overall, nothing is all that difficult along the Little Cherry Pond, but it is not appropriate for anything other than foot traffic. Horses and bikes are restricted to the main trail.

Pack List

  • Appropriate shoes and clothes
  • A camera and tripod
  • LOTS of bug spray in the warmer months
  • Food, water and supplies, as there are no facilities on the trail
  • Flashlight if you choose to stay past sunset
  • A bear bell – it is a wildlife refuge, afterall
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Chillin, Fitness, Hiking, Photography, Running

Skill Level:



Year Round



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

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How to Get There

10 months ago

Smooth Walk With Nice View

Nice walk. We didn't have any phone with internet neither gps with us ao we could'nt find the entrancs, but we manage to made it by our own trail. The view at the pond is really nice and the walk is pretty easy! There was so many bugs, by chance we had a repelenr with us, but still they were not leaving us alone! Nice and quiet place. We were the only one up there!

10 months ago

over 1 year ago

Leisurely stroll to beautiful view

Quite a flat and easy walk in. The observation deck looks out on an awesome view w/lake, forest and mountains. A bit crowded on the tiny deck during peak fall, but still plenty room to enjoy. Good spot to bring a thermos, binoculars, maybe a book, and sit for a while.

over 1 year ago

Added by Shannon Kalahan

I am an avid traveler, adventurer, dog owner, chapstick user, professional photographer, teacher and author based out of New England. I love to meet new people, so please, reach out to say hi!

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