Hiking Trail · Historical Landmarks · New Hampshire · Roadside Attractions · Water Scenes

Cascade Marsh – Sutton NH (Bonus dried up dam)



I needed to take an adventure today so badly that I was crawling out of my skin. With my health increasingly dogging me and other situations arising I haven’t had the pure and simple joy of just getting into the car and driving off into the wild blue yonder. Still, there’s no better medicine than doing just that so this morning I spent some time trying to figure out where to go.

A long time ago my brother used to live in this apartment literally in the middle of nowhere. You had to drive over two separate covered bridges and go back in time to get there. It was so deep in the woods that you could hear the cracking of a twig a mile away. He didn’t live there for long but I was always jealous. I should have called him and asked for his old address so I could drive right to these happy memories. Instead I googled, “Covered Bridges in New Hampshire” figuring there might be ten or so to chose from and my powers of deduction could figure out the rest but I’ll be damned, there are forty-two covered bridges listed in New Hampshire! Now what? I stared at a map to find a good cluster and decided I would head towards Merrimack and call it good.

My car is in the shop getting treated for post traumatic stress disorder which it got from it’s previous owner. Normally when this happens I borrow a Prius but the Prius I normally borrowed was scooting along it’s own adventure which means I was left borrowing my mother’s insanely temperamental RAV. If you’ve ever had the joy of holding a crazed husky on a leash you’ll know what driving the RAV is like – it pulls in both directions at once and whenever it feels like it. The gas is so outrageous that I pealed rubber trying to feather my way out of the driveway, and the brakes…. what brakes? Yeeeeeah…. this would be an adventure alright!

I ended up following a motorcyclist some 30 minutes with five separate turns from Jaffrey to Benton I think. At first this was fine but when he took an exit to shake me and I still followed him he seemed to get increasingly agitated. Another motorcyclist joined him for a while and it seemed as if he was both annoyed to be suddenly riding with someone else and relieved there was someone else here to witness the creepy RAV behind him. When the second motorcyclist took another exit and I was still following the first guy he literally just pulled aside the road on the highway and let me pass! Sorry dude, I wasn’t stalking you I swear! Truth be told I was hit with a sudden wave of fatigue and nearly stopped off myself for a short road-side nap but I didn’t because this motorcyclist was intriguing me. Where was he going? To the covered bridge I was trying to find?? What were the odds?! And by the time he finally pulled over I had woken up again. Another great roadside sight was what I could have sworn was a thunder bird swooping over the car. Biggest bird I have EVER seen. No idea what it was! Also almost ran over a suicidal hawk who swooped past my windshield.

I had been driving for over an hour by the time my GPS claimed I found my first destination. The funny thing about covered bridges is they don’t have addresses so asking my GPS is always one of those “let’s flip a coin!” sort of deals. I had “hints” downloaded from the internet but after driving in several circles the first bridge was nowhere to be found. So I started on my journey to see the second bridge on my list. I had five or six programmed into the GPS and it decided which ones were closest and what route made the most sense. I can’t say I agreed as I found myself driving the same road three times over but I digress!

As I was driving along I saw a “primitive” dirt road with a big poorly constructed sign reading “cemetery.” A cemetery on a road that looks like you  need four wheel drive? What more could you do to entice me?! I ignored my increasingly angry GPS yelling at me and took a little detour. Wow, this road was gorgeous! Out in the middle of the woods, so quiet, a grated dirt road filled with only thousands of acres of woods dotted with big colonial farmhouses from time to time. Way to make my heart flutter!

And then I saw something interesting… a big sign reading, “Cascade Marsh.” I had yet to visit any marshes on my journey, in fact I am not entirely sure what constitutes a marsh. Is it just a fancy word for swamp? I decided to check it out. I parked the car and headed into the woods where a big gate went over a trail. I didn’t walk for very long before I came across a hidden utopia. This was so worth the detour! Hidden coyly behind the trees was what I can only guess was a popular local fishing spot right off of a dam. The view was astounding! I snapped photos, probably more than I needed for such a small area, but it gave me such peace and joy to do so. I realized when I was playing with the marbles that this would be another really awesome place to take whimsical photos with props. Suddenly I decided I needed a backpack – and props! just in case I came across another sight such as this! I stayed here for quite a while, not another soul in sight, just enjoying watching the birds – a kingfisher and a blue herring. I was so at peace here I didn’t want to leave!

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I was thoroughly rejuvenated after that little jaunt. For being summer it was a fairly brisk day and breezy which made the water ripple all over. I wanted to see where the rest of the trail would lead but the trail turned into a dense thicket of random weeds and bushes not too far from the dam. A little sad I walked back to the car to resume my search for these elusive covered bridges I had been hearing about.

As I was driving I came across a very weird sight – an old dried up dam. I pulled over and took a couple snaps as the locals wondered what was wrong with me. I found it so fascinating! There amongst a jungle of weeds was a big gully where a river once was and the cracking crumbling ruins of an old dam.


Continue the journey to find the covered bridges in the next entry




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