Opportunities / Science

Fall Hikes and Winter Skiing in Peacham Bog


Like something straight out of Dr. Seuss’s Book, the tufted tops of the black spruce remind me of a landscape expected to be seen in “The Lorax” at any time of the year.

The Peacham Bog Natural Area, approximately 748 acres within Groton State Forest, is open to the public and managed by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR). The Groton Nature Center Trail Head, which leads to the Peacham Bog Loop Trail, is used by many people for outings, with a boardwalk constructed within the bog area to improve access and minimize impact. In addition, a cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing trail is established across the bog, which provides excellent winter access under frozen conditions. The wetland and its buffer provide birding, hiking, and photography opportunities year-round.PeachamBog1This hike through diverse woods provides an opportunity to view Peacham Bog and a beaver dam. The trail can be accessed by hiking the Little Loop Trail, which begins at the corner of the nature center parking lot. The trail crosses the Coldwater Brook Trail (state forest highway at this crossing) and heads east for two miles to a viewing platform on the edge of Peacham Bog. Here is a quick video of part of the boardwalk to the viewing platform:

After the bog, you will take a right on a dirt road which eventually turns to the trail again, heading westward until it reconnects back to the Coldwater Brook Trail (elevation change: 1,086 feet – 1,526 feet).

The Peacham Bog wetland complex and its upland edge contain the best examples of rare state-significant natural communities including: Dwarf Shrub Bog, Black Spruce Woodland Bog, Black Spruce Swamp, Poor Fen, Red Spruce-Cinnamon Fern Swamp, Spruce-Fir-Tamarack Swamp, and Lowland Spruce-Fir Forest. The principal bog area is Vermont’s second largest open peatland and the only documented “raised bog” in Vermont, with the peat surface in the center of the bog slightly raised above the margins of the peatland. The ground is carpeted with a variety of mosses and other funky plants, which even the imagination of Dr. Seuss couldn’t improve upon.

Below is a photo of the beautiful, almost shooting star like flowers of the cranberry plant nestled in among the mosses, sundews, and three-way sedge, with an adjacent photo of the ripening berries against the backdrop of the changing colors of the mosses in fall.

Enjoying the outdoors of Vermont during autumn is amazing, as the mountains change from the green of the “Green Mountain State” logo, to the often brilliant hues of oranges, yellows, and reds. While hiking a mountain trail provides you this colorful experience as the season changes, make hiking in a nearby wetland a destination – wetlands offer opportunities to see a diversity of plants, with their own changing color palette, often at a smaller scale, like the moss level! PeachamBog8Some wetlands, like Peacham Bog, also offer a winter-time experience. Imagine this wetland covered in snow – the contrast of snow white brilliance on the ground and the towering darkness of the black spruce will have you thinking you are in an Ansel Adams black and white print. Wetlands provide many functions and values on the landscape – recreation is one of those values we should take advantage of. For other easily accessible, amazing wetlands you can visit across the state, please see the other blogs in this series.