BARRINGTON — Take a hike — at Stonehouse Forest.
There are now 11 miles of maintained trails in the 1,500-acre conservation area. Visitors can see a 450-year-old black gum tree, or they can connect to the trails around Stonehouse Pond which offer a sweeping view from the ledges.
Stonehouse Forest is adjacent to a 230-acre parcel of land at Stonehouse Pond. It was acquired by Southeast Land Trust in 2017 from three New Hampshire corporations run by an Italian entrepreneur.
Giuseppe Prevosti had bought 54 parcels over the course of decades with the intention of creating an exotic game hunting reserve in Barrington. When state officials learned of his plans to import exotic species of animals, Prevosti abandoned the idea.
For the past two years, employees and volunteers have helped to create a series of trails to highlight the land and its features, with the hope to expand them in the future.
Phil Auger is a land manager for Southeast Land Trust, which is based in Exeter.
He said Stonehouse Forest is the second-largest owned by the trust.
Two parking areas have been built — one on Route 9 and another on Merry Hill Road — for access to the forest. Visitors can also reach the forest from Stonehouse Pond’s trails, but there are a limited number of parking spaces there.
On a recent Friday, Robbie Larson of Farmington and Madeline Littlefield of Rochester were exploring the trail system around Stonehouse Pond.
“We just went to Calef’s (Country Store) for lunch and we came here,” Larson said.
“It’s really pretty,” Littlefield said.
Dan and Jill Michno of Barrington said they just moved to the area, and saw a photo on the news.
“We looked it up and now we’re here,” Jill Michno said.
There will be a grand opening celebration for Stonehouse Forest on Saturday at 9 a.m. Hikes will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Archaeologist Jake Tumelaire will lead an easy walk focusing on the history of Stonehouse Forest and the lives of Native Americans who lived there.
A moderate hike will be led by Duane Hyde, SELT’s land conservation director, and Barrington Conservation Commission Chair John Wallace.
Auger and fellow land manager Parker Schuerman will lead a walk to the Black Gum Swamp and a hike up to the ledge at Stonehouse Pond to take in fall colors.
Some bushwhacking will be involved, and the hike is rated as difficult.
The Saturday events are free and open to the public, but donations are encouraged at $5 per person and $10 per family.
Parking information and event details will be sent by email to everyone who registers in advance.
For more information, call 778-6088 or visit seltnh.org.