Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge--Mud Pond, Jefferson

About this Location

The Mud Pond Trail at Pondicherry NWR is wheelchair-accessible and leads to an observation platform on the shore of Mud Pond.

About Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

See all hotspots at Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

Nestled beneath the mountains north of the Presidential Range, Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge has often been called a “crown jewel” of New Hampshire’s landscape, and visitors to the site will easily understand why. The ponds, wetlands, and forests of this refuge support a wide variety of significant ecological features. The sweeping views from the wetlands and ponds are truly unique, and the hiking trails through lowland spruce-fir forest provide an easy way to experience this characteristic natural community of New Hampshire’s North Country in person. A recently constructed viewing platform at the south end of Cherry Pond provides stunning views out across the pond and back towards the Presidential Range.

Good examples of natural community systems you can see here include a lowland spruce-fir forest and swamp system and a poor-level fen and bog system.

The refuge was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974 by the National Park Service. The Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge is owned and managed by New Hampshire Audubon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game. The New Hampshire Bureau of Trails and a local Friends group also play a role in the management of the refuge.

From downtown Whitefield, where US-3, NH-142, and NH-116 come together, take NH-116 north/east for about 2 miles to Hazen Road. Turn right onto Hazen Road, and follow it about a mile to the sign for the Mount Washington Regional Airport. Turn left at the sign onto Airport Road, and follow the road past the airport. After about 1.5 miles, there is a turn on the left for a small parking area with a kiosk and trailhead.

Access from NH-115 between the towns of Twin Mountain and Jefferson Highlands. The refuge is northwest of the road. There is a parking area with a new kiosk along Airport Road. A wide dirt trail (a former rail grade, soon to be made universally accessible) leads from here north about a mile and a half to the new viewing platform at the edge of Cherry Pond. The Little Cherry Pond hiking trail skirts the western edge of the pond and then leads west to a viewing platform at Little Cherry Pond.

The Pondicherry protected areas are jointly owned by New Hampshire Audubon, the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge.

Notable Trails

The TrailFinder website has a description and map of a hike to Mud Pond.

Just over half a mile in length, the Mud Pond Trail (designated a National Recreation Trail in 2013) is suitable for those in wheelchairs and others with mobility challenges and leads to an observation platform on the shore of Mud Pond. Leaving the parking lot, the trail follows a gravel path and passes the junction with the Mooseway, a winter-only trail, in 0.2 miles. Soon the trail begins to switch back gently down a slope and reaches a 950-foot long, approximately 3.5-foot wide boardwalk. Follow the boardwalk through a lovely black spruce/northern white cedar swamp out to the 8 x 12-foot observation platform that overlooks Mud Pond. Please stay on the boardwalk and use care if the boardwalk is wet. Dogs must be on a leash on this trail.


  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Restrooms on site

  • Entrance fee

Content from Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge Official Website, TrailFinder website, and New Hampshire’s Wildlife Viewing and Birding Trails, p. 4

Last updated November 21, 2023