Foss Mountain Management
The Ridge & Public Blueberry Picking:
The ridge is open to the public for blueberry picking all summer. Some years offer more of a crop than others, weather dependent. Following the trail up from the trailhead parking lot, you will pass through some of the Town's leased fields, which will be posted No Picking. If you stay on the trail until you come out above the winding section in the big trees, there is a sign that says Picking Allowed from here up! Please pick for your own use only, not for resale, and please do not use rakes for picking. If you wander off trail looking for berries, please try and keep your feet on rocks as much as possible to prevent mini trails and subsequent erosion.
A Robert Frost offering can be found below.
Here's a favorite Robert Frost poem for your picking pleasure:
Part of managing Foss Mountain includes fire. Historically, blueberries thrive when burned, and burning also girdles saplings, slowing down their growth or killing them. Grassland bird's nesting sites are improved, as are pollinator habitats. Keeping the ridge open on Foss keeps the spectacular view, but also means countering the vitality and insistence of every sapling on the ridge that wants to be a tree!
To learn more about Foss Mountain prescribed burns, read below.
On May 9, 2023, thanks to US Fish and Wildlife, Star Tree Wildfire Protection LLC burned roughly 70 acres on Foss. Funding was given to keep habitat for the Yellow Banded Bumblebee and other pollinators. John Neely and two others of the USFS assisted with the burn. Eaton volunteers sat all day at the winter parking lot and explained why the road was closed to vehicles and hikers. Thanks to all who made this possible. We never dreamed so much could be accomplished in one day!
Weather conditions for safe and productive burns are hard t0 come by, and our previous burn took place in late April, 2021. Detailed and arduous preparation for this burn began in 2018. The Wyden Agreement allows the US Forest Service to partner locally to burn, in order to protect and restore wildlife habitat and to reduce the risk for natural disaster due to heavy fuel loads.
In 2011, the Eaton Conservation Commission, volunteers from the White Mountain National Forest and local fire fighters burned parts of the leased fields at south end of the Foss ridge.
Cherryfield Foods biannually burned the lower Foss fields up until the early 1990's with flame throwing tractors and ATV's carrying water tanks.Prior burns on the ridge and the fields were by Frank French back in the 1940's and 50's, some of which got away from him. (See Summers on Foss by Nella Braddy Henney, edited by Joyce Blue)
The Trail up Foss:
The trail was built in 2014, following a logging operation to encourage pine, and cut trees back from the blueberry fields in Brooks Pasture. The log landing became the new parking lot, since the old lot wasn't even on Town land. Off the Beaten Path built the trail, showing great sensitivity, expertise and efficiency.
Below is more trail history and upcoming plans.
Prior to this, the path ran up an old stream bed in the middle of the fields along the road. It had become eroded, posing danger to hikers and needing rerouting or restoration at great cost. Trail building is expensive, and maintenance is needed often. Please stay on the trail, or step on rocks if you wander off to pick berries whenever possible!
The Eaton Conservation Commission is in the planning stages of rerouting the section of trail that goes up the steeper slabs, just beyond where you come out of the woods. Financial assistance gratefully accepted!
Foss Mountain's popularity is a challenge to trail health, and we do appreciate your consideration.
Foss Mountain Partners:
It takes a village, and we are fortunate enough to have a knowledgeable, dedicated and wide support base. Thank you to everyone who makes Foss Mountain's past, present and future a priority and contributes to its ultimate success.
Please take a moment to read the list of partners below and give them your support –
they help make the Foss experience possible!
Cheese Louise - restaurant and food truck started by local North Conway youth donated a portion of of their July specials to add to our 2023 fundraiser.
Green Mountain Conservation Group
LCHIP - Land & Community Heritage Investment Program: LCHIP contributed to the USVLT, enabling them to protect the 99 acre McKenzie parcel at the south end of the ridge.
NH Charitable Foundation
NHCF Pequawket Foundation Advised Fund - provided a grant in 2023 for the repair of the Foss Mountain trail
NHCF Deans Family Fund - joined the Pequawket Foundation in helping restore access to the summit of Foss in 2023
NH Fish & Game
NRCS - Natural Resource Conservation Service: In NRCS has offered grant money to enable the ECC to "pop rocks" out of Brooks Pasture and the fields along the road north of the old trails. These rocks are dumped off a side hill from Brooks Pasture
UNH Cooperative Extension: Olivia Saunders and others at the UNH Cooperative Extension Service have spent hours helping the ECC on Foss. Olivia has launched studies, received grants, helped us spread sulfur, checked pH, and endlessly brainstormed ideas of how to manage blueberries in a rapidly changing world.
Upper Saco Valley Land Trust: One day a sign appeared on the south end of the Foss ridge saying "Build Your Dream House Here!" The 99 acre McKenzie parcel was bought by the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust in 2010. USVLT then created an easement in collaboration with Eaton for this parcel, and generously gifted the land to the town.
White Mountain National Forest
In 2023, US Fish & Wildlife and Star Tree Wildfire Protection burned roughly 70 acres