Oyster River Forest and Spruce Hole Conservation Area, Durham, NH

A favorite location for evening hikes is the Oyster River Forest and Spruce Hole Conservation Area in Durham. Just be sure to leave the area by dusk.

When we hike, we follow the Oyster River Trail to the Oyster River Bridge in UNH College Woods. This 3.5 mile round trip trail passes through an oak-pine forest, a restored meadow and shrub habitat, then winds through the forest along the Oyster River.

Side trails lead along historic stonewalls, past an old foundation, and under huge white oak, shagbark hickory, and pitch pine trees. 

Here are the details about this trail:

  • 📍 GPS: 367 Packers Falls Rd.
  • 🅿️ Parking: there is good parking between the two small off-street lots at this location (approx. 15 spaces). A short trail connects the lots. 
  • 🥾 Length: 3.5 miles (Oyster River Trail to the Oyster River Bridge)
  • ⛰️ Elevation gain: 180 ft
  • ⚙️ Difficulty Rating: Easy to Moderate (see our Trail Rating & Pace Guide)
  • 🕥 Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • 🚶🏽 Pace: Stroll to Moderate so dogs can sniff
  • 🐕 Reactive Dog Rating: Level 1-2 (see our Reactive Dog Comfort Level Chart)
  • ✔️ Restroom: not available
  • 📱 Good cell service (we use Verizon)
  • 🚫 Hunting: not allowed on the Spruce Hole Bog Conservation Area
  • 🐶 Dogs must be on leash
  • 💩 Pick up and pack out
  • 🌐 Website
  • 🗺️ Trail Map

The beginning of the trail is wide and flat. We follow the path to the left to see the rim of the Spruce Hole Bog, a national natural landmark.

According to the National Park Service, Spruce Hole Bog, a true, kettle hole bog, is the last known to exist in southern New Hampshire. It is a truly unique place to explore whether you walk around it or down to see it and back up. For this hike, we did not hike down to the Bog.

When we hike this area, we do not see many people with dogs. Occasional runners and mountain bikers can be seen on the trail. It makes this location perfect for dogs that like additional space when hiking.

You will also hike through an open field where you can hear Woodcock at dusk and into UNH College Woods and along the Oyster River where there are several areas dogs can take a dip and cool off. 

After hiking to the Oyster River Bridge, return via the trail that loops back around and head back the way you came or continue on past the bridge for a longer hike.

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