Madame Sherri Forest

Chesterfield
513 acres

Click here for a PDF with a map, and trail information.

The inside scoop…

The 513-acre Madame Sherri Forest is situated on the eastern slope of Wantastiquet Mountain, also known as Rattlesnake Mountain in Chesterfield. The property abuts the larger, 847-acre Wantastiquet State Forest. Trails on the Madame Sherri forest are linked to the larger Wantastiquet – Monadnock Greenway Trail, which stretches from the Connecticut River east to Mount Monadnock. The Anne Stokes Loop Trail leads to scenic Indian Pond, and other trails ascend Wantastiquet Mountain, with excellent views.

According to Stephen Seitz, who writes for www.newhampshire.com, “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.” Click here for the full story.

Trail information

All the trails on this property are maintained with help from the Chesterfield Conservation Commission.

Anne Stokes Loop Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Round trip distance: 2 miles

From the Madame Sherri Forest parking area, follow the hiking trail across a small bridge. In approximately 0.25 miles, the trail forks. Bear right at the fork and continue for another 0.4 miles on the Anne Stokes Loop Trail to the junction with the Wantastiquet Mountain Trail (heading off to the right). Continue straight on the Anne Stokes Loop Trail, passing scenic Indian Pond is on the right. The pond is framed to the west by the open ledges and talus slopes of Mine Ledge on Wantastiquet Mountain. To complete the loop, continue southeast from Indian Pond up a small hill with fine views, then downhill through a hemlock forest through Chesterfield’s Cook Town Forest. At the junction with the Daniels Mountain Loop Trail, the Anne Stokes Loop Trail curves left to the northwest, leading back to the parking area.

Wantastiquet Mountain

Difficulty: Moderate
Round trip distance: 3 miles

From the Madame Sherri Forest parking area, follow the hiking trail across a small bridge. In approximately 0.25 miles, the trail forks. Bear right at the fork and continue for another 0.4 miles on the Anne Stokes Loop Trail to the junction with the Wantastiquet Mountain Trail. Turn right at the trail junction, heading west toward Wantastiquet Mountain. The summit is approximately 0.8 miles from the junction with the Anne Stokes Loop Trail and affords excellent views of the Connecticut River valley, Mount Monadnock, and the distant Berkshire Mountains. Retrace your steps to return to the Madame Sherri Forest parking area.

Recreational uses

Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog walking, hunting, wildlife watching.

  • NO wheeled vehicles (trucks, ATVs, dirt bikes, and mountain bikes).
  • Please do not disturb plants, animals, or cultural features.
  • No camping or fires permitted.
  • Carry in, Carry out all trash.

What you'll find

There is a small parking lot at the Madame Sherri Forest trailhead on Gulf Road. An informational kiosk displays a trail map and property information, and a separate interpretive display in the area explains the rich cultural history of the property and its former owners. A two-mile loop trail passes by scenic Indian Pond, and other side trails lead to several longer hikes on adjoining conservation lands.

From the parking lot, the foundation, chimneys, and grand stone staircase of the former Madame Sherri “castle” are just 100 feet up a short side trail. With respect to the memory of all those who have enjoyed this special place in the past: please do not alter the natural or built features of the property in any way. Do not climb on the staircase or other castle ruins, as they are unstable. The Forest Society is not responsible for injury or property damage. Your cooperation will ensure that future visitors will have the same opportunity to experience this site’s unique cultural and natural history.

NOTE: The Forest Society does not plow or guarantee access to this property or its parking areas during the winter.

Property history

Year of acquisition: 1991, 2005

Historical uses:

The Madame Sherri Forest is named after a former owner, Madame Antoinette Sherri, a Paris-born theatrical costume designer who worked in New York City during the early 1900s. She and her husband built a French-inspired chateau summer house in Chesterfield that featured extensive stonework including a roman arch stairway, ornate interior, and designed landscape gardens. There they lavishly entertained their New York City friends at parties during the Roaring 1920s. Madame Sherri became famous – or infamous – for her wild parties. Her chauffeur-driven Packard, her fur coat, and her fast crowd of friends made the townsfolk talk whenever she appeared. However, in time Madame Sherri’s fortunes declined, and her castle fell to ruin and vandalism. After a long separation, she returned to the house in 1959 to find the interior badly vandalized. She left, heartbroken, never to return again. The house burned down completely in 1963. Today, ancient sugar maples surround a stone foundation and stairway, a large empty fireplace tapers to a freestanding chimney. This is all that remains of the former summer home of Madame Sherri who died in Brattleboro on October 21, 1965.

Circumstances of acquisition:

Ann Stokes, who loved this property and its theatrical legacy, purchased it shortly after Madame Sherri passed away in 1965. Stokes donated the Madame Sherri Forest to the Society for the Protection of NH Forests in February of 1991. Over the next several years, she hosted several concerts and parties, using the foundation and stairway as a stage for elaborate sound and lighting displays. She decided to permanently protect the land in 1976, when she donated a conservation easement on 488 acres to the Forest Society. Then in 1991 she generously donated the fee ownership of those 488 acres to the Forest Society. Simultaneously, the Forest Society transferred the original conservation easement to the Nature Conservancy. In 2005 Anne donated an additional 25.5 acres that contains the remnants of the castle, the parking lot, and the primary trailhead to the Forest Society. Through the generosity of Ann Stokes, the unique community of plants and animals that live at the Madame Sherri Forest will be protected forever, along with the setting for the theatrical legacy and rich colorful history of Madame Sherri.

Directions

Parking lot

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Coordinates

N 42° 51' 55.23", W 72° 31' 6.19"
N 42° 51.92', W 72° 31.103'
N 42.86534°, W 72.51839°

click here for a larger map

Updated

May 2011

About the Forest Society

Since 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has worked to establish permanent conservation areas and promote the wise stewardship of private lands. Supported by 10,000 families and businesses, the Forest Society is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. For more information, visit our main web page at www.forestsociety.org.


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