About the Property
Hiking through the Donas J. and Margaret Reney Memorial Forest, you’ll have opportunity to enjoy nature and also to gain some insights into the life cycles of trees. Mature trees of pine, oak, ironwood, birch, maple, and moretower over much of the trail. Yet past the snowmobile path and stonewall, you’ll find yourself wading through pines that are just knee-high; this area was logged in 2005, and these tiny trees are the resulting new growth.
Keep an eye to the ground in the most recently cleared section of the forest, and you’ll notice considerable patches of dull, flattened grass that are, presumably, the favored sleeping places of moose or deer. The trail is speckled, from start to finish, with deer and moose tracks (or, more conspicuously, their droppings), and if you tread lightly, eyes and ears sharpened, you may just spot one.
Small granite boulders covered in vibrant green lichen and moss are scattered throughout the trail, and a variety of mushrooms and colorful fungi can be found underfoot. If it’s a damp day, be aware of where you step – the trail is home to tiny, inexplicably cute red efts. If a scenic view interests you, the beautiful landscape of Grantham Mountain can be observed from the steep part of the trail just past the clearing.
Please see our Visitor Use Guidelines page for a complete list of rules and regulations for Forest Society reservations.
Like much of the region, the slopes of Barton Hill were cleared for farm pastures and timber by the mid 1800s. The abandonment of hill farms allowed this land to gradually revert to a forest of poplar, white birch, and pine. During the 1900s, selective cutting of pine and mixed hardwoods yielded a northern hardwood forest of beech, yellow birch, sugar maple, and hemlock. Donas J. Reney founded a family lumber business in 1901, and for more than 80 years, this property has provided pine and hemlock for the family’s timber business.
Everett “Mike” Reney and his sister, Lena Cote turned down a developer’s lucrative offer in favor of permanently protecting the land they had owned and cared for for more than a generation. Instead, they sold their scenic family property to the Forest Society for a fraction of its appraised value. Led by former Trustee Merle Schotanus, the Forest Society and a team of dedicated volunteers raised the funds to purchase the land in less than six months. Because of the generosity of the Reney family and others, the property will be maintained in perpetuity as conservation land managed for multiple uses, including timber management, hiking, hunting, and snowmobiling. The Forest Society is grateful for the generous support of the Grantham Conservation Commission, Lake Sunapee Bank, and Merle and Helen Schotanus, as well as contributions from more than 500 additional friends.
Reney Forest Loop Trail
Yellow rectangles and/or flagging
A regional snowmobile trail network, which is maintained by the Blue Mountain Snow Dusters snowmobile clubs, also crosses through the southeast portion of the property.
This walk starts from the parking lot on a trail marked with yellow rectangles and climbs rather steeply for the first 200 yards, then continues at a moderate climb up through softwoods and hardwoods until it meets a snowmobile trail. Turn left on the snowmobile trail and continue uphill until the trail levels out. After crossing an intersection with a stone wall, you’ll find a narrow trail on the left marked with yellow flagging tape.
Turn left to continue down this trail, passing by several ironwood trees as the trail follows and quickly passes through the stone wall. Bear left through an open area bordered by several large white pines. After about 200 yards, the trail (marked by yellow ribbons) starts downhill, continuing for another 300 yards. Look for moose or deer tracks in wetter sections of the trail.
Just before a steep drop in the road, a double ribbon marks a turn-off to the right, and the trail winds for 200 yards before it Ts into another logging trail. Turn left down this steeper section, which offers views of Grey Ledges and Grantham Mountain across the valley. This area harbors great blackberry bushes in season. There are many beautiful snags on the sides of this section as well. Continue bearing left at intersections, always going downhill until finally returning to the parking lot.