Brookmead Conservation Area is 352 acres of farm and forest land in Norwich, VT. This property supports local agriculture, education, scientific research, and multi-use recreational trails. Enjoy the views of our rural countryside as you climb into the forest, or find quiet and solitude as you wander the miles of singletrack trails through the woods. The trails on this property connect with Norwich’s Parcel 5 trails, and the Blue Ribbon Connector trail.
Trailhead parking has been relocated and expanded! The previous parking lot and access point have been closed. The new parking area has direct access from Turnpike Road. There is a new trail segment. Brookmead trail maps have been updated. See the link below.
Summer ’23 storms have created wet soils and prolific vegetation. Please exercise care in using trails and choose activities that are safe for you based on site conditions. All use is at the users’ risk.
Brookmead Conservation Area has five miles of wooded trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trail starts from the parking lot on Turnpike Road in Norwich and heads west uphill through the farm fields and across the powerline right of way into the woods. The trail network boasts many vernal pools, forest types, and a remote cabin with a working outhouse.
Trail users please be aware that Brookmead Conservation Area includes land in active farm use. There may be young cattle in the pastures. Stay away from and do not touch fences – they are likely electrified – and do not enter pastures. If you visit Brookmead with your dog, please keep it leashed until you are above the powerline right of way and beyond any farm fields.
From Dan & Whit’s General Store on Main Street, go north on Main Street .5 miles to a left on Turnpike Road. Brookmead Conservation Area is a bit less than 2 miles on the left. Look for the sign.
The Story of Brookmead Conservation Area
In 1995, Dale and Marlene Somerville donated a conservation easement to protect 18 acres of beautiful and productive hayfield. The conserved land was part of a 157-acre farm where for most of the 20th century, the Somerville family had made their living farming. Dale, his first wife Greta and their children Jennie and David raised an outstanding herd of Holsteins and brought their strong work ethic to the land and barns every day. The Somervilles were named the 1979 Farm Family of the Year by the Vermont Farm Bureau.
David and Jennie were young adults when Greta died of cancer in 1985. In the late 1980’s Dale remarried, gaining five adult stepchildren. By 1995, Brookmead was the last dairy farm shipping milk in Norwich and the Somervilles were ready for semi-retirement. As Dale and Marlene prepared for the sale of the farm, they and their neighbors came together to talk about agriculture, land conservation and the future of their community. Neighbors led a fundraising effort to pay for the legal and survey costs to conserve the 18 acres.
The next owner, Andrew Sigler, bought more woodland. He also reconfigured the farmstead to breed Holstein show cows there, moving the house and barn and building new barns on the cornfield. After he discontinued the operation, he donated the property to Vermont Technical College in 2015 and UVLT bought most of the farmland and forestland. Norwich residents and the Norwich Conservation Commission contributed to UVLT’s purchase.
Today UVLT owns 352 acres known as “Brookmead Conservation Area” returning the farm name to the land that Dale Somerville once stewarded.
Research projects at Brookmead Conservation Area include a multi-year studies of deer browse, vernal pool research by Ryan Calsbeek and Craig Layne, and citizen science projects with the Vermont Center For Ecostudies (lady beetles).
UVLT grooms a portion of the trails at Brookmead as well as trails through the fields for nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Grooming these trails has been made possible by generous donors and trail users. Skiing and snowshoeing only are allowed on the trails through the fields. The main trails are open to winter fat biking, walking, trail running, skiing, and snowshoeing. Groomed trails at Brookmead connect to groomed trails at Parcel 5.
Food Pantry Garden
The Brookmead food pantry garden was established in the summer of 2019 and has grown each year since. Last year the Brookmead garden produced 4,500 lbs of food – everything from lettuce to potatoes – which was donated to our partner Willing Hands to be distributed throughout the Upper Valley.
Abenaki Land Link
In 2021, UVLT added to garden space at Brookmead Conservation Area in order to join the Abenaki Land Link program, a program begun by the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation who partnered with Rooted in Vermont and NOFA-VT. Through the program, UVLT receives indigenous seeds from the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation. UVLT grows these vegetables and donates the produce and seeds back to the Nulhegan Band for the exclusive use of Abenaki citizens. More information on this project can be found here.