NH Foliage drive - Madame Sherri's Forest

Stephen Seitz July 23. 2013 1:11PM

Not all of the best foliage is visible from the highway. In fact, anyone willing to do a little climbing will be well rewarded at the Madame Sherri Forest in Chesterfield.

The 448-acre forest is part of the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Greenway, a series of trails connecting the mountains of southwestern New Hampshire and has a trail that leads to Mount Wantastiquet State Forest.

A Lakes Region Smorgasbord

The forest is named for the eccentric Madame Antoinette Sherri, who built a European chateau on Gulf Road. Madame Sherri worked as a costume designer for the Zigfield Follies in the 1920s and married a prominent stage actor; for 30 years after his death, she spent her summers in Chesterfield. Her touring car, French accent, and numerous visitors from the theatrical world kept local gossips busy for years, but there is no truth to the persistent rumor that she ran a brothel out of the Castle, as her home was locally known. It had been abandoned and neglected for years when it was destroyed by a fire in October 1962, and Madame Sherri herself died three years later, at the age of 84.

The main trail starts near Indian Pond to the left and then slopes upward to the spectacular Castle ruins. The trail climbs steeply to ledges overlooking the pond and the mountains to the east. It eventually leads to Miner's Ledge and Mount Wantastiquet. Miner's Ledge offers a magnificent panoramic view of Indian Pond, East Hill, and the New Hampshire mountain ranges beyond. If you decide to leave the Madame Sherri trails and explore Wantastiquet, you can get a grand view of the foliage in southern Vermont, which is close across the Connecticut River.

To get to Madame Sherri's forest, take Route 9 west to Chesterfield. When the wide green spans of the Chesterfield bridge to Vermont come into view, take a left at the Riverside Grocery plaza, which puts you onto Mountain Road. An immediate left puts you onto Gulf Road. Go for just a little more than two miles; Madame Sherri's Forest is on the right.

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