North Buzzy Brook Trail and McLaughlin Road, Sunkhaze Meadows NWR (Milford)
The north side of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge contains two trails that appear on maps and the Friends of Sunkhaze Meadows website but not on the official USFWS website - the North and South Buzzy Brook Trails. Both trails are accessed from the gated McLaughlin Road.
A private logging road leads to McLaughlin Road. The road posts the ominous sign pictured below but is not posted as no trespassing. Having witnessed logging activity on the road that day, I felt the risk of being locked in was small as I hiked out to explore the area.
The unmarked North Buzzy Brook Trail splits off from McLaughlin Road after 0.2 miles. I hiked down the trail, following snowshoe tracks until I encountered a wide stream. Maps for the area, including both GaiaGPS and USFS topo maps, show the trail as an out-and-back trail, but the Friends of Sunkhaze website has a map showing a trail leading south connecting to South Buzzy Brook Trail. With that in mind, I took what I thought was a trail and headed south into the woods, only to quickly realize I was following a game trail.
Figuring I might be able to link up with the south trail anyway, I hiked 1/4 mile through dense woods before reaching a broad clearing occupied by a wetland. At this point I turned around and headed back.
Once back on McLaughlin Road, I hiked south for a little over a mile before reaching a section where the road was washed away. At that point I hiked out to the car.
The McLaughlin Road section of trail turned out to be the best part of the hike, as I observed significant evidence of moose activity along the road (scat and tracks). The road also serves as a snowmobile trail and was well packed as a result, although downed trees and the washed out section appear to have prevented recent snowmobile activity.
I hiked a total distance of 4.25 miles.
Once back at the car, I turned around to drive out and one of the gates that had been open when I came in was now shut. Thankfully the gate was not locked and I was able to get past it, but for this reason I cannot recommend this trail.
North Buzzy Brook Trail
Wetland encountered when I tried hiking off trail
Bird (gray jay?) observed from McLaughlin Road near washed out section
Tracks from my hike
Sign warning that road may close
USGS topo map (from Avenza) showing trails as out-and-back
Map from Friends of Sunkhaze Website