Adams Point Wildlife Management Area

Area:  Adams Point Wildlife Management Area
Region:  NH - Southeast  
Seacoast Region
Location:  Durham, NH
Rating:  Easy  
Features:  Great Bay, water views, loop hike
Distance:  1.4 miles  
Elevation Gain:  100 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 0:45  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 1:30  
Season:  Variable
Last Updated:  09/07/2009  
Author:  Webmaster

An island off the shore of Adams Point (photo by Webmaster)
An island off the shore of Adams Point (photo by Webmaster)

Route Summary   

An easy loop walk at Adams Point Wildlife Management Area (WMA) offers frequent shoreline views of Great Bay while traversing through both meadows and woodlands.

Although there aren't any trail signs at Adams Point, it's fairly difficult to get lost because you can see Great Bay
Pond (photo by Webmaster)
Pond (photo by Webmaster)
from almost everywhere – and the few places you don't see any water, walking a mere tenth of a mile should bring some in sight.

This hike sticks to the outermost perimeter of the trail system. So when following the loop in a clockwise direction, simply bear left at all trail junctions (but not when you encounter Adams Point Road near the end of the hike).

  • Start this hike at the end of Adams Point Road.
  • Walk away from the road towards the open meadow, first going straight and then curving towards the left contouring the edge of the land. After about 0.5 mile of walking with water on your left and meadows to your right, you will enter the woods.
  • Continue following the trail through the woods, still pretty much hugging the shoreline for another 0.4 mile.
  • Upon reaching a trail junction, bear left to stay close to the shoreline and continue walking for 0.15 mile.
  • You will then reach Adams Point Road – the road you drove in on. Cross the street and duck back into the woods on the other side.
  • During the next 0.3 mile, this trail will offer more water views before veering away from the shore and climbing back up to Adams Point Road.
  • To complete the loop, turn left and walk for 0.05 mile back up to the parking area at the end of the road; or if you parked in the lower lot, turn right and walk 0.05 mile back to your vehicle.

Seaweed (photo by Webmaster)
Seaweed (photo by Webmaster)

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Upper parking lot (25') 0.0 0.0
End of meadows/start of woods (20') 0.5 0.5
Adams Point Road crossing (10') 0.55 1.05
Upper parking lot (25') 0.35 1.4
Trail (photo by Webmaster)
Trail (photo by Webmaster)


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View to access road with water on both sides
(photo by Webmaster)
View to access road with water on both sides (photo by Webmaster)
 



Boat on Great Bay (photo by Webmaster)
Boat on Great Bay (photo by Webmaster)




Trail with a small arrow sign pointing to a spur (photo by Webmaster)
Trail with a small arrow sign pointing to a spur (photo by Webmaster)
 

Trail map of hike route at Adams Point Wildlife Management Area (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

Adams Point Wildlife Management Area is an 80-acre promontory jutting into a section of Great Bay that may be referred to as "Little Bay". It is connected to the "mainland" by a narrow strip of land not much wider than the
Big tree with a tree swing (the swing is hard to see – look for the two strands of rope descending from the lower branch) (photo by Webmaster)
Big tree with swing (photo by Webmaster)
access road that leads to a small network of trails traversing a surprising amount of diverse environments. Shorelines, tidal estuaries, marshes, open meadows, and woods are all accessible via this easy hike. There are quite a few spots to just sit and enjoy the scenery. Adams Point invites relaxation and it's a wonderful place to bring a picnic lunch.

At the end of Adams Point Road, to the left is UNH's Jackson Estuarine Lab. Start the hike by walking away from the road and building. Head down through the meadow and then go towards the left to follow the shoreline trail. You will soon encounter an odd bench made from a big rock; metal attached to the top of the boulder forms the armrests and back of the seat.

The first half-mile of the hike is along the edge of an open field about ten feet above the water line. You can access the narrow beach at several points by clambering down a steep embankment. During low tide, horseshoe crabs are commonly seen here, often in their mating configuration.

Continue following the shoreline path as it enters a hardwood forest while still providing views out to the bay. The trail climbs a bit before re-descending and then curves with the land to give you yet another perspective of the bay. After passing a junction on the right (you will go left here), you will soon reach a tidal marsh with tall grasses emerging from the water. This is a good spot for viewing herons and just beyond the marsh area, I've often seen swans out on the open water.

Leaving the marsh, the trail will bring you a bit away from the bay for a short spell. In these more wooded areas you are likely to see songbirds such as the stunning scarlet tanager. This path soon bumps into Adams Point Road. Cross the street and continue on a woods path on the opposite side.

This section of trail travels through woods with still more outlooks to the bay – this loop hike is perfect for viewing the water from almost every angle. Eventually the trail veers away from the shoreline and ascends a hill back up to Adams Point Road. Turning left will quickly return you to the upper parking lot near Jackson Lab.

View from the observation deck with Great Bay in the distance seen through the screen of trees (photo by Webmaster)
View from the observation deck (photo by Webmaster)

If you want to do a bit more exploring, you can turn right at the end of the road (heading away from the lab) and do a small loop through the upper meadow, about 0.1 mile long, which will bring you to a viewing platform, a tree swing, a pond, and the Adams Farm memorial obelisk which lists members of the Adams family and their lifespans. Before it was a wildlife management area, this promontory was a farm owned by the family. In addition to a farm, the land at Adams Point has also hosted a hotel, a brickyard, and a shipyard.

During the summer, beware of poison ivy which occurs pretty much throughout this conservation area. Poison ivy comes in many forms so unless you are really good at identifying it, it's best to wear long pants and avoid touching unknown plants. The wooded portions of the trails tend to be rocky and rooty so be sure to wear appropriate shoes.

Since this is in the seacoast region, winter tends to bring more ice than snow so putting some kind of traction on your feet is recommended in order to enjoy a pleasant stroll rather than suffering through a perilous trek. Crampons, stablicers, or microspikes will all suffice. Snowshoes also work since they have built-in crampons.

Young red oak leaves and catkins (photo by Webmaster)
Young red oak leaves and catkins (photo by Webmaster)
 
Adams family obelisk
(photo by Webmaster)
Adams family obelisk (photo by Webmaster)


Flowering tree
(photo by Webmaster)
Flowering tree (photo by Webmaster)


Flowers on a blueberry shrub (photo by Webmaster)
Blueberry shrub (photo by Webmaster)
 


NH - Southeast

  Driving Directions   

Adams Point Wildlife Management Area is located in Durham, New Hampshire and is open from dawn to dusk.

From Durham:
  • From the junction of Main Street and Rt. 108 (just south of downtown Durham), follow Rt. 108 South for 0.4 mile.
  • Bear left onto Durham Point Road which later becomes Bay Road. Follow this narrow, winding road for about 3.8 miles.
  • Turn left onto Adams Point Road. At this turn is a mailbox labeled "Jackson Lab" and a chain link gate bars access from 10:00 p.m. through 4:00 a.m.
  • Follow Adams Point Road for about 0.9 mile where you will traverse a narrow strip of land and go by a boat launch and a lower parking area.
  • Cove that's marshy around the edges
    (photo by Webmaster)
    Cove that's marshy around the edges (photo by Webmaster)
  • Continue for another 0.1 mile to the upper parking area at the end of the road on the right.
  • You may park in either the upper or lower lot or in any of the other small parking areas in between; however I don't think parking is allowed in the lot directly in front of Jackson Lab's building. As always be careful not to block anybody's access especially in the boat launch area where room is needed to maneuver trailers.

From Newmarket:
  • Just north of downtown Newmarket on Rt. 108, cross the bridge over the Lamprey River and then turn right onto Bay Road.
  • Follow this narrow, winding road for about 3.8 miles.
  • Turn right onto Adams Point Road. At this turn is a mailbox labeled "Jackson Lab" and a chain link gate bars access from 10:00 p.m. through 4:00 a.m.
  • Follow Adams Point Road for about 0.9 mile where you will traverse a narrow strip of land and go by a boat launch and a lower parking area.
  • Continue for another 0.1 mile to the upper parking area at the end of the road on the right.
  • You may park in either the upper or lower lot or in any of the other small parking areas in between; however I don't think parking is allowed in the lot directly in front of Jackson Lab's building. As always be careful not to block anybody's access especially in the boat launch area where room is needed to maneuver trailers.
 
 
Marsh at Adams Point (photo by Webmaster)
Marsh at Adams Point (photo by Webmaster)
 

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