Updated: Sep 12
It had been a while since I'd visited this gorgeous nature reserve, but I returned last weekend to help my husband work his booth at the Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival (he's a potter, check him out here). If you haven't heard of this craft fair, it's a juried event that includes 130 artists and their work is real good. It's also nature themed, so if you're a reader of this blog, I'll assume these crafts are right up your alley.
For the past 35 years, this festival has been held at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm the weekend after Labor Day. If you like to shop local artists for the holidays, you may want to add this one to your calendar for next year. We plan to be there again, selling monster mugs. How we made it into a nature themed craft festival? I have no idea.
There are many trails here, but my favorite is the loop leading from Wells Reserve to Laudholm Beach. It's called the Laird-Norton and Barrier Beach Trail Loop and is 2 miles round-trip. Here is the link from All Trails. If you prefer a shorter trip, there are more direct routes to the beach, which can be found on the Reserve's website. I love this longer loop because it includes mixed woodland, a long length of boardwalk and a scenic marsh overlook leading to the hidden beach. A beach that is never crowded because you can only access it via this trail...unless you own one of the private homes located here and have a driveway in which to park your car. Not that I have a choice, but I prefer to walk. It's the most adventurous and scenic journey to this beach.
The Wells Reserve, located at 342 Laudholm Farm Road in Wells, is a National Estuarine Research Reserve - a center for education and conservation. It offers 7 miles of trails in total and is open year-round from 7:00 am to sunset. There is a museum offering education exhibits here as well as some educational posts along the way. Activities include hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Dogs are not allowed here.
This reserve has a large parking lot and small admission fee. There are bathrooms available just up the hill from the ticket booth if you need to make a pit stop before the one mile walk to the beach.
Upon arrival, you will see the old farm house and other historic buildings, which are now used for educational purposes. To check out their listing of guided nature walks, research demonstrations, and workshops, here is the website: https://www.wellsreserve.org/ You will also find some interesting history on this site.
From the parking lot, head up the hill toward the fields and bear left on the dirt/gravel road. Soon you will come to a sign for the Laird-Norton Trail on left. Side note, mosquitoes can be aggressive here. If you forget anything on this trip, do not let it be your bug spray. If you are highly adverse to insects, you may opt to visit in late August or September when the bug season has settled down a bit. I brought a group of campers here several years ago in mid-July and they actually told me that it was the "worst field trip ever Jill!" They had a very legitimate reason for having this opinion because they were pretty much eaten alive. Just make sure to pack the bug spray.
After taking a left onto the Laird-Norton Trail, you will walk down a path that connects with a very long boardwalk, entrance on the right.
Follow this boardwalk until you reach the Barrier Beach Overlook, a short spur to a deck that looks over the Little River mouth and salt marsh. Enjoy the view, then carry on until this trail re-connects with the Barrier Beach Trail. Here you will take a left to head down towards the beach. Enjoy a quiet beach, tide pools to explore, and waves to jump. For a shorter return trip, take the Barrier Beach Trail which is a straight shot back to the farm. Just before reaching the farm, you will see three benches on the left. Near the base of the large tree behind the middle bench, look for our Seek'em. He's tucked between some rocks in the stone wall. This trail is delightful. Enjoy!