Hopkinton – Bohanan Farm
Bohanan Farm has been in existence since Lester Bohanan bought the land in 1907. From the 1930s on, the farm became primarily a dairy farm and has grown with every new generation. Lester’s great-grand-daughter, Heather, married Jaime Robertson, who currently manages the over 400-cow operation.
In 2008 the family decided the best way to ensure the land remained unaltered for future generations was to place an easement on it. However the cost to do so was quite substantial and Jaime asked the Town of Hopkinton if they were interested in purchasing the development rights. Hopkinton’s Open Space Committee began building support for the idea among the voters while Five Rivers got involved and raised money through state and federal grants as well as generous private donations. The State of NH and the National Resource Conservation Service through its Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program also provided valuable assistance.
In the largest town meeting in the town’s history, Hopkinton residents overwhelmingly voted to preserve the farm. After the land was under easement, Jaime decided to widen the scope of the farm. He created the Contoocook Creamery and you can find their milk in traditional glass bottles in many local grocery stores. The Robertsons also sell eggs and have started raising cattle for beef, not just milking. Blueberry and raspberry patches are also in the works and should be ready for the public in a couple of seasons. Logging has always brought in extra income for the farm but is done in a sustainable manner. There are large cornfields on the property that produce about 50% of the cow’s feed over the course of the year.
For years there have been trails on the property that were open to the public but now that Hopkinton maintains them, there is a designated parking area and they are clearly mapped and marked. The Courser Hill Loop trail is a 2.3 mi round trip and starts from the parking area. It heads along the Contoocook River past a canoe and kayak launch, around a field and then cuts inwards towards Courser Hill. Once in the woods the trail divides into the loop portion. The trail has a long stretch through the woods and another sizeable stretch that cuts through Courser Hill pasture and over the top of the hill. At the top of the field there is a small grove of trees with an old cellar hole at the center. You should be aware that at certain times of the year there may be cows grazing in the pasture.
Across the road from the main farm, along Burrage Road, there is the 1.5 mi Blackwater River Loop trail. It cuts in past a cornfield and leads into the woods. There is a lookout point over the Blackwater River on the north-west part of the trail. The path also leads past several vernal pools. This trail is ideal for cross-country skiing and biking in addition to being a nice walking route. The newly added Contoocook Overlook Trail (conserved by the Town of Hopkinton and owner Donelda Horne and not Five Rivers) leaves the Blackwater River Loop at the half way point, adding ¾ of a mile to the Blackwater Loop (2.2 miles total with the overlook trail). The trail follows a bluff above the Blackwater River before turning toward the Contoocook River where an overlook provides beautiful views where the two rivers converge. The trail climbs a short hill to a bluff along the Contoocook River, follows through mature woodlands with views over Bohanan fields, and rejoins the Blackwater River Loop.
After your hike, don’t forget to say hello to the cows. They’ll appreciate it.