County Lands & Community Programs
Recreation, Education, & Resource Management
In addition to the County Complex, Sullivan County owns more than 2100 acres of undeveloped land in the town of Unity. Consisting of 6 diverse parcels, most county lands are old farms with forests, fields, streams, wetlands, and mountain views. Trails allow access to some of these special places including Sam’s Overlook, where you can see into Vermont on a clear day. Education sites at Marshall Pond and the Eco Ag Center are used year round to teach school children, families, and adults about natural resources and management techniques.
Check out these topography maps of the 6 different parcels!
Aerial Maps of each parcel.
The county welcomes recreation on its lands, including hiking, hunting, fishing, gardening and snowmobiling (on designated trails only).
Sullivan County Hiking Trails
The Sullivan County Lands Hiking Trails were created to give people an opportunity to enjoy, explore, and learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Sullivan County. Keep in mind these trails are used by hikers, hunters, nature watchers, school groups, and many others. Please be respectful of all users by following these guidelines.
- Please do not litter. This is a carry in/ carry out trail.
- Please pick up after your pets.
- Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
- Campfires are prohibited.
Trail Descriptions (click on trail name for brochure)
Unity Mountain Trail: Built entirely on public lands in the Town of Unity, the Unity Mountain Trail is a four mile long hiking/walking path showcasing the varied cultural and natural histories of Sullivan County. From its western end at the Sullivan County Complex the trail climbs steadily past a small pond before crossing the 2nd NH Turnpike and continuing gradually upward along the flanks of Unity Mountain before dropping down and following the shore of Marshall Pond. The trail's eastern end is located at Mica Mine Rd, opposite the historic Marshall family cemetery. A scenic overlook near the summit of Unity Mountain affords hikers a spectacular view. Birds and other wildlife species are often spotted along the trail. There are 3 trailheads for this trail - County Farm, DOT on 2nd NH Turnpike and Marshall Pond on Mica Mine Rd. The trail is marked with blue blazes. A small section of this trail connects to a larger network of snowmobile trails throughout Sullivan County. Learn more about this network on the Sugah Valley Snow Riders facebook page.
Glidden Ridge Trail: This 2 mile trail follows Quimby Road before making a sharp turn up Glidden Hill winding its way through a northern hardwood forest. It runs along Glidden Ridge which offers mountain views from an overlook before it heads into a hemlock forest and down an old road bed. It connects to Unity Mountain Trail near the Upper Pond and continues down the gravel road to the County Farm Kiosk. This is a moderate hike with quite a bit of elevation gain. The trail starts at the County Farm Kiosk and is marked by yellow blazes.
Barrette Trail: This half mile trail winds it way around wetlands along a small ridge into the dark, coolness of an old spruce-fir forest and loops back again. This is an easy hike marked with orange blazes. It is accessed from the Marshall Pond Trailhead on Mica Mine Rd. It starts across the street from the Unity Mountain Trail, just left of the Marshall Cemetery. This trail was named in honor of Jeff Barrette, owner of the Ink Factory and former County Commissioner.
More trails continue to be created and connected to this system. If you want to volunteer to help build or maintain trails, connect with Dawn Dextraze, firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Claremont: Take Chestnut St (2nd NH Turnpike) toward Unity, approximately 4.8 miles. At the Sullivan County Complex sign, continue straight onto County Farm Rd. Kiosk or continue to Mica Mine Rd. Kiosk From Lempster and Route 10: Take 2nd NH Turnpike toward Claremont 10.1 miles.
There are three parking areas: 1. Up the hill from the County Health Care Staff parking lot at the County Complex 2. On 2nd NH Turnpike near DOT Salt Shed. 3. On Mica Mine Rd. See the Map for trailhead locations.
Trail maps can be found at the kiosks at each trailhead as well as linked to the names of each trail on this webpage.
The unity Mountain Trail project was funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trails Program through the NH Bureau of Trails. Sam Sprague and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) created it in 2018. UVLSRPC created the trail map. Volunteers help us clean up the trail each spring. We could still use some volunteers to groom the trail in the winter for cross country skiing. Let us know if you are interested.
Eco Ag Center
The Eco Ag Center is made up of the SCCD Community Garden, research high tunnels, native pollinator gardens, an outdoor classroom, fishing dock, and Jessie’s trail. This area is used for recreation and education.
Jessie's Trail is a short trail that runs from the community garden and ends near the front entrance of the nursing home. It was created by Sam Sprague and named in honor of Jessie Levine, a past county manager, for her service to the county. Jessie Rogers created the bridge across the small stream and Nancy and Glenn Walker donated a stone bench as a memorial to their parents. Native wildflowers have been planted along the trail, which is used for education programs throughout the year. A shrub garden is located near the County Farm Cemetery. The trail is also used by staff during breaks to stretch their legs, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy nature.
The fishing dock was installed in 2017 to encourage residents of the nursing home to spend some time in nature. It was stocked with fish the summer of 2018. The public are welcome to fish here, but it is catch and release and carry in, carry out. You may notice the muskrat lodge near the cattails or the great blue heron that visits almost daily to fish here too. Eastern red-spotted newts and red-winged black birds also call this pond home.
SCCD Community Garden
The Community Garden is an educational, organic garden that provides county residents with an opportunity to grow abundant produce and create beautiful landscapes. Gardeners grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs to satisfy their hunger and delight their spirits. Since the garden is located on county lands, gardeners are also stewards of public land. They work cooperatively to share use of the land and learn from each other.
The public are welcome to visit the gardens and take a self-guided tour, but please don't pick the flowers or produce as the gardeners work hard to grow them. Check out the signage during the growing season to learn about the techniques used in the garden including a hugelkultur bed, raised beds, vertical gardening and bee hotel.
Learn more about the other uses of the Eco Ag Center and how to become a member of the community garden on the Conservation District website.
EDUCATION & RESEARCH
The Natural Resources Department partners with Sullivan County Conservation District (SCCD) to offer natural history classes, agricultural workshops, and community events for the public. We also partner with local colleges, high schools and professionals through research projects and internships. Use the links below to learn more about these programs.
There are two sites for education on the county lands so far, one at Marshall Pond that connects to Unity Mountain Trail and the other at the County Complex near the Eco Ag Center, which includes a community garden, native pollinator garden, research high tunnels, and outdoor classroom. Field Trips are free to schools in Sullivan County and teachers can choose from a variety of topics. Learn more.
School to Farm Day
Sullivan County 4th graders are invited to visit the County Farm and meet farmers, producers, and educators as the learn about agriculture and food systems through hands-on activities and demonstrations each spring. We partner with the Sullivan County Farm Bureau, Conservation District and NH Ag in the Classroom are bringing this event to students for FREE!
We work with schools and Vital Communities to create scavenger hunts that highlight historic, cultural, and natural resources in Sullivan County. Unity Elementary students created a Valley Quest in 2018 that starts at the Marshall Pond Trailhead in Unity, NH. Check it out here!
We host educational workshops related to natural resources conservation and agriculture. Workshops are added throughout the year as funding and staffing allows. Sign-up for our mailing list and like the SCCD Facebook page to be the first to know about upcoming workshops or check out the calendar of events.
Our department manages both the natural and cultural resources on the Sullivan County Lands with a goal of sustainable use and preservation of resources. This includes leasing agricultural land to keep it in production, our homeowner’s firewood program, water quality monitoring, invasive plants control, graveyard restoration, and preservation of historic artifacts.
Since 1990, Sullivan County has used forest management plans to help guide its management of County lands. In 2018, upon the expiration of the last management plan, the County hired Meadowsend Consulting Co. to develop a new 10-year plan, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Department. The resulting plan will guide the management of County lands until 2030. Consisting of maps and written narrative, its purpose is to support and advance the County’s seven primary land management goals.
Homeowners Firewood Program (HFP)
The HFP is intended to provide Sullivan County residents with an inexpensive source of firewood while meeting County land management objectives. Participants who are granted a permit must cut and haul their own wood at their own risk and mechanical skidding is not allowed. Up to 5 cords of firewood may be cut annually for a fee of $25 per cord. All wood harvested through the Sullivan County Homeowners Firewood Program shall be for personal use only and may not be resold.
Contact the Natural Resources Director, Lionel Chute, to confirm wood availability and submit an application. Applications must be submitted in person to the Sullivan County Natural Resources Office located in the Sanders Building at the Sullivan County Complex in Unity, NH. Please call ahead to ensure that someone will be in the office when you visit; 603.542.4891.
Water Quality Monitoring
Volunteers and students help us monitor the 5 ponds and the Little Sugar River on County Lands in Unity by testing water chemistry and surveying aquatic life. Colby Sawyer College, Stevens High School, Unity Elementary, and Watershed Ecology Institute students have helped out thus far. Learn more about how you can get involved here.
Invasive Plant Management
Invasive plants can cause significant ecological and economic harm and are changing the face of America. They impact wildlife by choking out natural habitats such as freshwater wetlands, causing loss of available food, or altering habitat structure or function. They out-compete native plants and destroy important natural communities such as floodplain forest. Invasive plants cause widespread impact to our fish, wildlife, endemic plants and natural communities. They are a major threat to native biodiversity, second only to habitat destruction. The importance of minimizing spread of invasive plants means they are a common focus of restoration projects.
Japanese knotweed,multi-flora rose and autumn olive are actively being removed from the Eco Ag Center area and other populations on county lands are being mapped for future management. We host and promote workshops to teach others about managing these and other invasive species.
Agricultural Land Lease Program
Commitment to or priority to keep agricultural lands in agriculture has led to a land lease program that includes hay and pasture fields, an orchard, and sugar bush forest.
It is important to understand the history of a place including land-use and cultural history to best manage the land today and for future generations. We strive to maintain the cultural resources on the County Lands and to share the story of these special places with others.
Historic Gravestone Preservation & Restoration
We have partnered with the NH Old Graveyard Association (NHOGA) to learn more about restoring the stones in the cemeteries on County Lands. Stevens High School students straightened many of the stones in the Graveyard across from the Sullivan County Health Care building on their spring service day 2019. Restoration will be ongoing. We are also working to photograph each stone and research the people that lived here in the past. Much of this information can be found on www.findagrave.com. If you would like to help with either of these projects, please contact us!