Day/Date: SUNDAY -4/24/22
Towns visited: Leyden, Bernardston, & Greenfield
Had you ever been to any of these towns before? No
Drive to 1st town: 17 miles (from Deerfield) Time spent in town(s): 8+ hours
What did we do in the town(s)/area?
Today was day two of our weekend away and it was another great one!
Before yesterday, we had never heard of Leyden. But, the rock climber we met yesterday on our hike in Erving brought it to our attention. “Some of my partner’s family owns a sheep farm, and they have 100 baby lambs right now.” That was all we needed to decide to make it our first stop in another 3-town day in Franklin County.
This town only has about 750 residents, so the town center was quite tranquil. There was a town hall, a church, and a tiny library on top of a hill that afforded a view of a few farms.
Since we were only about a mile or 2 from the state line, we decided to drive the small country road that crosses into Guilford, VT. We realized that the Connecticut River is what separates NH from Vermont. So, yesterday, when we were at the NH border in Northfield, we were on the East side of the Connecticut River. Today, we were on the West side of the river, which borders VT. There was a barely readable rusty town line sign showing the border.
We then headed to Leyden Glen Farm (the place with 100 baby lambs). After a few miles of windy dirt roads, we finally came upon the farm. We looked around a bit but didn’t see any sheep or lambs. We checked out their mini-farm store (which was a cute red shed with freezers full of lamb) and considered a purchase from their self-serve system.
Then, we walked around and used Jenny’s binoculars, trying one more time to spot any animals from a different vantage point. But to no avail. Fortunately, a truck pulled up and parked. The man who got out of the truck was Mark, and it turns out he owns the farm with his wife, Kristin. He told us that he had just been with the lambs and that they keep them over in Bernardston (the next town over) until there is enough grass to graze on in the Spring on their land. He said he would probably bring them over in a week or two. Bummer!!! But, we did buy 1/2 pound of ground lamb and had a friendly chat with Mark. When we asked him if there were any good hikes in the area, he pointed us to a most amazing ridge hike at the Leyden Wildlife Management Area a mile or so down the road.
We would NOT have found this hike if it weren’t for Mark. After we parked, we walked up this grassy trail (that looked like an old road) to a ridge that gave us beautiful views on both sides. We were both taken aback by the simple quietness and beauty of this place. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but it was stunning. We were on a ridge between Ball Mountain and West Mountain. We will put a picture of where we parked our car if any of you want to find this fantastic spot (pic at bottom of this post). even saw an Eastern Bluebird up there!
Our 2nd town of the day was Bernardston, located to the east of Leyden. Driving into town, we came upon some sheep and baby lambs! So cute! Then as we went into town, which was a little more populated than Leyden (about 2000 residents), we discovered a lovely place called The Back Porch (Country Shop & Antiques). This place was located behind the owner’s home, and it was such a wonderful small shop, beautifully arranged and very affordable. Their dog Murphy said hello to us at the counter, and the couple who owns it were lovely. We would definitely come back to this shop to see what new finds they bring in!
Hungry for lunch, we found a local pizza and sub shop called Antonio’s. Here we enjoyed some delicious roast beef sandwiches on the porch, watching the Sunday afternoon happenings in this quiet town.
Lastly, we headed to the town hall and library for our usual pictures. Then, it was off to the big city of Greenfield!
This city had more bustle to it, but not quite as much as Amherst or Northampton (which have many college students). Greenfield does have a college, though, Greenfield Community College, which enrolls about 1600 students at a time.
We parked and walked around, taking in the City Hall, Catalpa Coffee, and the Franklin Community Food Co-op. We also noticed several Bee Statues. We wondered what those were about. It turns out that Greenfield has a Bee Fest every year in honor of Lorenzo Langstroth, a Greenfield pastor in the mid-1800s who was also known as “the father of modern beekeeping.” These statues, painted by local artists, were part of the 2021 festival.
There was also a department store in the middle of town called Wilson’s, which closed right before Covid hit. Willson’s had been in operation as a full-line department store from 1882 until 2020.
Next, we hopped in the car to visit Pierce Brothers Coffee Roasters, the makers of Fogbusters Coffee. The first address we had for them must have been old because it took us to a run-down mill building a few blocks from the downtown area. But, there was an interesting shop in this mill building that the owner of The Back Porch in Bernardston had told us about., called Innovintage. We didn’t hop in but would love to in the future.
The next address for Pierce Brothers Coffee Roasters took us to an industrial park. This seemed more like it! We also saw the headquarters for-Pure Pro Massage Lotion (a company known by many massage therapists such as Jo). Who knew they were there?!
We ended the day with a hike at Rocky Mountain Park. We hiked the Sachem Head trail (about 1.8 miles) and then went up to the Poet’s Seat Observation Tower. We saw some great views of Greenfield, the largest city in Franklin County, population of about 17,000.
We had a great weekend exploring some of the most rural parts of this beautiful state.
(map pic of where to park for the Leyden Hike)
Indigenous/ Native land info for this region:
Leyden & Bernardston: Wabanaki, Abenaki
Greenfield: Wabanaki and Pocomtuc: