John Hay National Wildlife Refuge is located on Route 103A, north of Newbury, New Hampshire. The Refuge is part of the former estate of John Hay, who served the United States as ambassador to Great Britain, personal secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State.
The refuge was established in 1987 for migratory bird conservation through a donation from Alice Hay, daughter-in-law of John Hay. In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) exchanged the northern half of the Refuge, which contains the estate buildings, to the longtime friends group known as The Fells. In exchange, the Service received an important addition to the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in northern New Hampshire.
The remaining 80 acres of high quality wildlife habitat includes a mixture of hardwoods and softwoods with some exceptionally large overstory trees. Other habitats include a small meadow, Beech Brook, fens, and vernal pools. Management is focused on resource conservation, primarily for migratory birds and native habitats. The Refuge also protects approximately 3,100 feet of undeveloped shoreline along Lake Sunapee.
The Refuge is open to the public every day from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Visitors may participate in wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation. The 0.9-mile John Hay II Forest Ecology Trail offers a self-guided hike through the forest and along the shore of Lake Sunapee. This is a primitive, native surface trail with uneven surfaces and may be slippery.
Information regarding the historic John Hay estate is available from The Fells at (603) 763-4789 and their website www.thefells.org