Appalachian Trail Buffers

The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a recreational corridor protected by the U.S. Government. It that threads its way through the heart of Hanover, along the spine of Moose Mountain, past rural homes, between suburban developments, and right down Hanover's Main Street. Most residents are only minutes away from the trail - one of the nation's pre-eminent recreational treasures. The AT allows a quick exit from the bustle of daily life in the Upper Valley. Even for those who cannot or choose not to hike within it, the Appalachian Trail corridor is one of Hanover's dominant scenic features. From many of our community's streets and roads, the passerby has a view of undeveloped ridgelines traversed by the AT, or of an expanse of forest through which the AT passes, providing a buffer between lands dominated by human activities. The trail corridor helps divide the local landscape into distinct areas, each with its own special character, substantially enhancing Hanover's unique scenery and "sense of place".

Appalachian Trail through hikers on their way from Georgia to Maine (Photo in print edition)

Ecologically, the AT corridor provides habitat for diverse flora and fauna, and permits wildlife dispersal through a landscape increasingly subdivided and disrupted by human activity. The AT corridor serves to protect a significant portion of the watershed of Mink Brook and other tributaries of the Connecticut River on the west side of town and to Goose Pond on the east. However, because the corridor of protected land along the Appalachian Trail through much of Hanover is fairly narrow, each of the above values is at risk. As development and increased human activity encroach from the north and south, the values and benefits that the corridor now exhibits will gradually decline.

Open Space Benefits

  • Water Supply - Much of the AT buffer land is within the watersheds of the Hanover Reservoirs. Its protection contributes positively to the quality of the water in the reservoirs.
  • Surface Water - Of the areas shown as AT buffers on the Open Space Plan Map, one protects a significant section of Monahan Brook and a major associated wetland. Another carries water from the Third Hanover Reservoir down Monahan Brook, a major tributary of Mink Brook.
  • Wetlands - See Surface Water.
  • Wildlife Habitat - The AT corridor permits wildlife dispersal through a landscape increasingly subdivided and disrupted by human activity. Widening narrow portions of the corridor would improve dispersal and habitat opportunities.
  • Biodiversity - Ecologically, the trail corridor provides habitat for a diversity of flora and fauna. Harboring a full array of common woodland plants and animal species, the area includes some fine wetlands and an area of rich "mesic forest", with plant species rare in New Hampshire. "By virtue of the Velvet Rocks area... the Appalachian Trail has some of the rarest plant populations in Hanover...The forest condition is excellent along the Trail corridor... Broadening the current Appalachian Trail corridor, especially along wetlands and streams flowing into Mink Brook, and between Hanover Water Company's southern boundary and the northeast corner of the block (near Trescott Road's sharp turn), would considerably expand current conservation land and protect these resources.... Connecting the northern edge of the Appalachian Trail corridor with the Hanover Water Company's land would increase forest interior and protect wetlands and buffer forest area for the reservoir." (Natural Communities and Rare Plants of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1999)
  • Productive Soils - The proposed AT buffers include two working farms (one on Trescott, one on Two Mile Road at Ruddsboro Road), and many former farms. 
  • Recreation - The Appalachian Trail allows quick escape from the bustle of daily life in the Upper Valley to a peaceful and relatively wild landscape dominated by bouldery, second-growth forest, moist fern-filled glades, and occasional wetlands.
  • Connections and Buffers - The proposed buffers will connect the AT with Highway 38 (Class VI road), and with the proposed Etna Walkway near Partridge Road. By means of the Etna Walkway, walkers can reach an extensive network of local trails. (See the description of the Etna Walkway under "Mink Brook Corridor".)
  • Class VI Roads - The trail provides a direct connection with Highway 38, with the Wolfeboro and Cory Roads, and indirectly by means of the Etna Walkway with Etna Highlands Road. 
  • Scenic Assets - The AT corridor is one of Hanover's dominant scenic features, protecting forests and ridgelines that can be seen from a large number of locations all over town. The buffers serve to protect much of the scenic value of the AT in Hanover. The working farm on Trescott Road is on the Scenic Locales High Priority Action List because of the pastoral scene and the spectacular view of Mt. Ascutney visible to passersby, both on the roadway and on the AT. The passerby also benefits from the protection the AT buffers provide along Hanover Center Road.
  • Historic Sites and Cultural Landscapes - One proposed parcel has a historic house. Many have remnants of traditional agricultural use. 
  • Education - These parcels offer educational opportunity in the Monahan Brook wetlands, working farms, and, on one parcel, active sustainable forestry.