The Park is a ninety acre forest of pine trees that are approximately 125 years old. It begins at the north end of campus, along the edge of the Hanover Country Club golf course, and extends along the Connecticut River from Ledyard Canoe Club northward. The trees were saved from the Diamond Match Company in 1900 by local residents who later turned the land over to the College and to the Town of Hanover. This pristine area is also a site where forest and river ecosystems interface. The Park, therefore, is home to a rich mix of water and forest wildlife. There are many trails that wind through these woods. Some lead directly onto the golf course, where walkers and seekers of solitude must be wary of airborne golf balls. The trails are excellent for walking, cross-country skiing and jogging. Several spots along the banks of the Connecticut and throughout the forest, just off the trails, provide a spectacular sense of isolation from the human world.
How to get there:
From the Hanover Inn, follow North Main Street until the first stop sign, where it becomes Rope Ferry Road. Continue to the end where the road bears to the left, between the DOC House and the Country Club House. At the bottom of this stretch along the northern end of Occom Pond begins a wide path to the right. Follow it onto the golf course being careful neither to disrupt the golfers, who may be teeing off to the left, nor to get hit by a golfball. Pass in front of the tee and off the worn path, into a small saddle. As you rise up the other side of the saddle toward the top of Freshman Hill, keep your eyes open for a trail on the left marked by a small, white sign. Follow this dirt path down toward the river. The trail begins to diverge in several directions. When the path begins to level out:
A sharp left turn leads to the “Goat Path”, a trail no longer maintained but easily passed (except for icy winter conditions) with some caution for roots and rocks and such. The path follows the very edge of the river southward, ending at Ledyard Canoe Club.
The main trail continues north along the river past the Goat Path turn-off. After about mile, it again branches in two directions.
The right branch becomes a steep uphill stretch of about mile and continues southward back to the golf course, leaving the Club House, which was passed earlier in plain view across the grass.
The left branch descends slightly and begins to follow Girl Brook in a southerly direction. The brook winds along a narrow valley surrounded by steep banks and the cool shade of pines for a little under a mile. The trail continues straight and leads to Route 10, just north of Hanover, beyond the Medical School. Before reaching the road, however, as the valley begins to widen, there is a trail to the right which climbs a steep bank and returns to the Club House.
There are many more unofficial trails in this area, trails that have been worn by joggers. A little curiosity and sense of adventure are sure to uncover some remote and beautiful spots. Getting lost should not be a great problem as long as one remembers that the Park is skirted by the Connecticut River to the west and Route 10 to the east. The campus remains to the south. A map of Pine Park is available for sale at Hanover’s Town Hall.