Ponemah Bog: Peatland System
Description: Ponemah Bog is a great place to view the various characteristics of peatland ecology. A well-maintained boardwalk takes you from the surrounding forested upland over the shrubby outer edges of the peat mat to the “bog-eye” center where there is still a pond of open water. May and June are good months to see the flowering plants in bloom, but the sanctuary can be visited any time of year.
About 18,000 years ago, New Hampshire was covered by a continental ice sheet almost a mile thick. Kettle hole bogs are found where big chunks of glacial ice were stranded and partially buried in the landscape as the glaciers melted. The ice chunks subsequently melted, leaving ponds in depressions in the ground, with no hydrologic inlets or outlets. Over thousands of years, peat moss progressively filled in the kettle holes from the edges inward toward the pond centers. Many (such as this one) still have a central bog pond with a floating mat border, while some have filled the kettles entirely with peat, obscuring the former ponds under floating or grounded peat mats. Precipitation is the primary water source for these peatlands, but their watersheds are often small and they have very limited terrestrial runoff influence. The vegetation of kettle hole bogs is dominated by species indicative of nutrient-poor conditions, such as scattered, stunted black spruce, numerous dwarf heath shrubs (such as leatherleaf, small cranberry, sheep laurel, and bog laurel), liverworts, bladderworts, and white beak-rushes.
Directions: From Nashua: Take Rte. 101A west for 5 miles. Turn right on Boston Post Rd. Go 2 miles, then turn left on Stearns Rd. Go 0.3 miles, then take a left on Rhodora Dr. and go straight ahead to parking for the Sanctuary.
From Milford/Amherst: Go east on Rte. 101A for 0.5 miles, then turn left on Rte. 122. Immediately turn right on Stearns Rd and go 1.1 miles. Turn right on Rhodora Dr. and go straight ahead to parking for the Sanctuary.
The trail network here is about ¾ mile long and takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete at a leisurely pace. The early part of the trail is a woods path. The part in the bog is all on narrow boardwalks.
Landowner: NH Audubon
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