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Map 03: O'Reilly-Fleetham Trail

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  1. Walking trails
Trail Access
PDF Map | Map 3 Printable Friendly Text

From Penacook, take Washington Street and River Road. Turn right across the Contoocook River, 0.3 miles to the parking area on your left.

The Trails

Hiking travel time: about 1 hour
Distance: about 3/4 of a mile 

Cross the grassy area southward to an opening onto the woods road, with a deep ravine on the left. Yellow blazes lead you down the hill. Bear left where an overgrown road forks right. Many varieties of ferns and flowers decorate this path. Bring along your plant identification books to enhance your enjoyment.

Lush ferns edge an overflow area on your right and bunchberry plants on the ground lead you to a wooden bridge. Notice the snag full of holes made by pileated woodpeckers looking for insects. The holes shelter small birds and animals. A picnic lunch can be enjoyed at the tables.

Follow the river beneath towering white pines. Don’t trip in the animal holes, probably made by bank beaver. Notice partridgeberry and Canada mayflowers along the way.

Cross a granite footbridge, reportedly weighing 4500 pounds, moved into place by the Boy Scouts, and go up the hill on the cinder path. At the top of the hill, turn left for a lunch break or snack overlooking the river and the abutments of the old railroad bridge.

Turn right to continue your walk on the abandoned rail bed. Those small round clumps of moss are called helmet moss by some and there are also star flowers, goldthread and club mosses under foot.

Cross another wooden bridge and walk uphill into another pine grove. The trail bears right along the back of an ancient cemetery. Notice the tombstones now buried in the roots of the large white pine. Was the tree there when the stones were first placed?

Stroll back to the opening where you left your car, through a patch of goldenrod, meadowsweet, clover, evening primrose and toadflax. 

The O’Reilly-Fleetham Trail was cleared and blazed by Shawn Hartford and members of Boy Scout Troop # 81, as part of Shawn’s Eagle Scout project. They also built the informational kiosk and the bridges on the trail.

The trail was named for George O’Reilly and Dan Fleetham, long time Scout Masters and mentors of Shawn. Both men have been awarded Scouting’s Silver Beaver Award. Shawn was awarded his Eagle Scout Award.

Bridge abutments in the river and cinders on the path bear witness that parts of this trail are on the former Concord to Claremont rail bed. For 90 years, until 1961, the railroad carried freight and passengers. Today the trail has tall trees, a wealth of wildflowers, ferns and birds and riverside views.