Pondicherry Nature Refuge via Presidential Range Rail Trail

EASY 29 reviews

Pondicherry Nature Refuge via Presidential Range Rail Trail is a 4.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Jefferson, New Hampshire that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.9 miles
147 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly


cross country skiing



nature trips


trail running




rails trails



wild flowers






Information provided is from the Silvio O. Conte NWR website for the Pondicherry Division: The Division sits in a basin surrounded by the Kilkenny Range to the north; Presidential Range to the east; Dartmouth/Pliny Range to the South; and, the Dalton Hills to the west. Within the bounds of the Refuge is a complex mix of habitats including boreal forests, forested bogs, northern hardwoods/conifers, riparian communities, an abundance of early succession from recent timber harvests, and open water. This concentration of diverse, high quality habitats acts as a magnet to wildlife, especially birds. Over the years volunteers and biologists have documented 234 different bird species on the Refuge with 128 confirmed nesters. Breeding songbirds are especially well represented with 22 warbler species, seven sparrows, and six thrushes, among others. In addition, there are fourteen amphibian species, six reptiles, and a number of mammals including black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, beaver, and northern bog lemmings. Hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education, and interpretation are priority public uses on national wildlife refuges as defined by Executive Order 12996 (March 25, 1996) and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-57). Visitors have an opportunity to experience each of these at the Pondicherry Division. Refuge-specific hunting regulations will become effective September 1, 2005. Generally speaking, these mirror New Hampshire Fish and Game Department regulations with minor exceptions. During the open seasons people may hunt moose, white-tailed deer, waterfowl (Note: Cherry and Little Cherry ponds, and the posted area between them are all closed to hunting), and small game. Hunters need to be familiar with Refuge regulations before going out into the field. Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not permitted on the Refuge. Anglers at the Pondicherry Division must comply with the state fishing regulations. Although Pondicherry is not sought out by most anglers, Cherry Pond and the Johns River do offer recreational fishing opportunities, and people may fish on any of the other streams and ponds on the Refuge. Chain pickerel and sunfish are the principal game fish on the Refuge. Most visitors come to the Refuge because it is well known as a place to see moose, bear, a multitude of breeding birds, and spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ranges. People can hike, ski, or snowshoe anywhere on the Refuge to view and photograph wildlife, flowers, and the scenery. At this time there are two primitive trails on the Refuge. Cherry Pond is linked to Little Cherry Pond by a loop trail that winds through a forested bog community. A series of bog bridges were installed by the Friends of Pondicherry to protect the saturated bog soils. The second trail is a section of the Cohos Regional Trail. It enters the Refuge from the east off Whipple Road, leads to Cherry Pond, then exits near Highway 115 in the southeast corner. Pondicherry is an unstaffed division of the Conte Refuge, and as such, programs are not typically offered by Refuge employees. However, there is an active Friends Group that hosts several environmental events during the year, including an annual birding trip on International Migratory Bird Day in May. Other groups are encouraged to use the Refuge for environmental education and interpretation purposes, but need to contact the Refuge Manager ahead of time. Hiking is allowed throughout Pondicherry. Motorized and mechanized vehicles, bicycles, and horses are not permitted on trails within the refuge boundary. All dogs must be accompanied and under control, and not pose a threat or nuisance to Refuge wildlife or visitors. Contact the refuge manager regarding activities not discussed on this page.

trail running
23 days ago

Trail is nice but completely impassable due to swarms of black flies. We entered as part of a 13 mile run and probably set a PR for 5k trying to get out of there as quick as possible. Completely miserable experience. Should have listened to the other two previous reviews.

1 month ago

I've hiked many trails and this was by far the worst experience I ever had. Assaulted by flies from the moment we arrived. Trail was for the most part straight as an arrow and extremely uninteresting. Went there primarily to photograph birds and NEVER SAW A SINGLE BIRD in 2 hours of walking. Just the worst. Don't waste your time.

1 month ago

Got attacked by mosquitoes and flys which made a nice easy walk awful:(

4 months ago

great spot for hiking all in all pretty easy . mostly packed snow but a couple spots I fell thru up to my knees. that's what happens when it's warm out. diffently recommend it I'll be back in the summer to do it again. bonus I did get some good shots of Mt Washington.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

The trail is flat and easy to navigate.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

definitely do it again. keep in mind there are no outhouses and there is better shade early or late in the day.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This trail is beautiful at all times of the year. It's really easy and more of a nice place to walk with your dog. The view of the mountains just past the pond is absolutely stunning! Defiantly I trail to do on some free time in the day.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

great easy going trail! I've got a bum knee so as much as I love steeper hikes, I have to practice moderation. this one is flat, well maintained, and perfect for a light hike with my blind dog. cherry pond is gorgeous and a great place to stop for a snack or just to take in the mountains.

paddle sports
Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nice little spot to kayak and enjoy the wildlife. It's a flat, easy walk, so bring a kayak cart if you've got one!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Flat and relatively easy. Dog friendly, but bring a leash.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Teens thought it too easy, adults enjoyed our time with the kids and the six year old enjoyed it but it was a lot of walking(4.25mi)

Observation deck was great. Very easy walking path. Wish we had seen more wild life.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Great Walk. Level clear and straight,almost like a rail trail. observation deck pretty. The true hidden gem was found beyond the deck on the right. Follow trail to beautiful area with bridge that we relaxed on and soaked our feet!! great bike path too!

1 month ago

1 month ago

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

mountain biking
Friday, June 05, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Monday, February 17, 2014

Friday, November 30, 2012