Moose Mountain West

Moose Mountain West (MMW) extends from Hanover's northern border with Lyme to its southern border with Enfield, and from the mountain's ridgetop west to a line roughly parallel to Two Mile, Thompson, Three Mile, Old Dana and Ruddsboro Roads, and set back from those roads by a 500-foot strip zoned Rural Residential. The entire MMW area is within Hanover's Forest and Recreation Zone ("F" zone). 

The Moose Mountain ridge is the most prominent feature of the Hanover landscape, visible from dozens of locations from within the town and from locations in other municipalities. It provides a stunning backdrop to historic Hanover Center. From the mountain's heights, the Green Mountains are clearly visible to the west, as is Mount Cardigan to the east. 

Topographically, MMW divides into three distinct sections. The northern third is the widest (more than a mile) and highest. Its watercourses drain generally northwest into Hewes Brook. The western flanks of the mountain are steep, rugged, and covered with mixed hardwoods and evergreens. Large mammals find good habitat here, as do a wide variety of smaller animals. There are numerous hiking and cross-country ski trails. Pre-eminent is the Appalachian Trail (AT), which ascends the west slope to South Peak, and from there northward along the ridgeline to North Peak and on into Lyme. 

The central third of MMW is somewhat lower in elevation, narrower, and more varied. Headwater streams for Mink Brook rise here. Cleared fields extend from the ridgeline down to the roadway in the vicinity of Moose Mountain Lodge Road, providing cross-country skiing opportunities as well as edge conditions for wildlife that are not present elsewhere on the mountain. The lodge and the nearby radio tower are the only structures visible on the mountain slopes. A southbound hiking trail leads from its junction with the AT past the lodge and on down the spine of the mountain into Enfield.

Varied terrain on the west slopes of Moose Mountain (Photo in print edition)

The southern third of MMW tapers to a width of about 2000 feet, rising with steep, bouldered slopes from road to ridgeline. More than a dozen small feeder streams flow straight down into Mink Brook. There has been some recent logging, but otherwise the area is undisturbed except for occasional hunters and hikers. 

The recreation and wildlife habitat/travel corridor value of MMW is greatly enhanced through its connection with Moose Mountain East. MMW is the southwest frontier of an expanse of forested lands that reach to the While Mountains almost unbroken except for I-93. MMW lies in the "F" zone, in which landowners may build "seasonal dwellings" of any size on 10-acre lots. A single Town Meeting vote could reduce or enlarge the lot size, or create more lenient (or more restrictive) conditions of development. 

While one seasonal dwelling may not have much impact, the cumulative impact of many seasonal dwellings will have a negative effect on the wildlife habitat and wild character of the area. The 20-acre ridgetop property on which the TV tower is located is especially vulnerable because of the possibility of more or higher towers.

Open Space Benefits

  • Water Supply - The southern part of MMW lies in the watershed of Mink Brook and the northern part in the watershed of Hewes Brook. The area does not directly affect public water supplies as currently structured in Hanover, even though the Third Hanover Reservoir is nearby. No aquifers have been identified.
  • Surface Water - Mink Brook, the most important tributary to the Connecticut in Hanover, originates in and flows through MMW. After it leaves this area, it becomes a "fourth order stream", subject to the provisions of the Comprehensive Shoreline Protection Act.
  • Wetlands - Most of this area is characterized by well-drained sloping lands. There are scattered small areas noted on the Wetlands Map and the Hydric Soils Map. Wildlife Habitat - According to Ted Levin, a local naturalist, MMW harbors deer, bear and occasionally moose, as well as predators such as fishers, bobcats and coyotes. Migratory birds favoring heavily forested areas, such as warblers, are common.
  • Biodiversity - This area provides important habitat for some of New Hampshire's larger wildlife species, including bear, moose, bobcat, ravens, and other species... Connecting or expanding current conservation lands would be a good strategy... Protection efforts should also focus on mountain stream corridors." (Natural Communities and Rare Plants of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1999)
  • Productive Soils - The area has been slowly reverting to forest from pastureland over the past sixty years. Overall, soil quality is mixed, with pockets of agricultural soil of national or statewide significance along Three Mile Road, Dana Road, and Ruddsboro Road.
  • Recreation - The area represents a major resource for local as well as Appalachian Trail hikers, snow-shoers and cross-country skiers. In addition to the Appalachian Trail, there are numerous trails on private lands. A Class VI section of Wolfeboro Road that crosses the mountain appears to attract all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
  • Connections and Buffers - MMW provides a topographic buffer to development and is also important as a buffer to the Appalachian Trail. It shares a boundary over its entire length with Moose Mountain East. To the north, MMW abuts Lyme's "Mountain and Forest District", zoned for 50-acre minimum lot size, representing de facto open space as long as the current Zoning Ordinance remains in force. To the west, MMW abuts the Mink Brook corridor and Monahan Valley. In a southerly direction the area neighbors a fairly heavily built-up section of Enfield.
  • Class VI Roads - More than three miles of Class VI roads pass through this area. A segment of Wolfeboro Road connecting the AT with Three Mile Road is the major Class VI road. Although Pasture Road, connecting Goss Road and Moose Mountain Lodge Road, is well-defined near its origin in the Moose Mountain East area, it becomes hard to follow as it climbs the Moose Mountain ridge on its way to Moose Mountain West. Goss Road Extension takes another route over the mountain to connect with Moose Mountain Lodge Road. A fourth, short Class VI road climbs Plummer Hill in the northwest corner of this conservation area.
  • Scenic Assets - The ridge of Moose Mountain and Moose Mountain Lodge Road are cited as major scenic resources in the Scenic Locales report. The South Peak of Moose Mountain (accessed from the Appalachian Trail [AT]) has a splendid eastward vista towards Cardigan Mountain through a cleared "window" in danger of becoming overgrown. The North Peak, also along the AT, provides potential westward views that could be exploited by judicious clearing. Another minor outcrop north of the North Peak offers good views to the west and southwest. Moose Mountain Lodge has a superb westward view.
  • Historic Sites and Cultural Landscapes - The area was and remains thinly populated, with little history of note. Like many forested areas in Hanover, it was heavily logged in the 1930s. Most of the area was pasture and hay fields one hundred and fifty years ago. Some haying and pasturing continues.
  • Education - MMW is full of opportunities to teach about ecology in general, wildlife, forest succession, local agricultural history, etc.