J.B. Hudson Trail: Breakheart Pond

By guest bloggers: the Rice family

“Woah…….jumping fish!” Cristy pointed to the dissipating rings the fish left behind in the water. “Should’ve brought my pole” she sighed snapping her fingers. I nodded in agreement while trying to protect my Mikes without the Ikes candies from Scott Jr.

While continuing to scan the lily pads for more activity, we laugh at the frogs mooing like cows, watch a crazy bird leap catching bugs to snack on, and chase the Blue Dashers for pictures that are skimming through the grass.

We’re sitting on the shore of Breakheart Pond, taking a break from our hike on the J.B.Hudson Trail. The day is warm and the gusty wind make for a great combination. But the best part is, We’re together and the sun is shining!


Our Sunday afternoon hike of the J.B. Hudson Trail started from the trail head parking area directly off Rt. 165, Ten Rod Road. Not far from the West Exeter Baptist Church in the Arcadia Management Area.

Named after John Hudson, brother of the more famous explorer Henry Hudson. The J.B. Hudson Trail is blazed yellow, well worn and extends for 1.6 miles from Rt. 165 to Breakheart Pond.

The beginning of the trail looks like it may have been a farm road at one time, now blocked by a large boulder to prevent any vehicle access. It’s wide enough for a car to pass, but the only tracks we see are from hikers & bikers, and a few dogs.


We passed the boulder to the trail sign. After reading, we searched the wooden box attached that read “MAPS & INFO” and were not surprised to find it empty. You may want to bring your own map.

Passing the sign we stepped onto the trail and began to amble our way to Breakheart Pond. Our steps are cushioned by a mixture of Pine needles, cones & fallen leaves that have been turned into more like a mulch.


What’s now a wide comfortable trail soon begins to slope uphill, thin out, becoming a trail littered with ‘baby heads’.

Baby heads are mini boulders that are the size of, yup you guessed it, a babies head. Small enough to step on or over, but large enough to require your attention, and it continues this way for the next 0.9 miles.


Soon we arrived at the ‘Town of Exeter Historical Cemetery #100′ settled beside the trail. It’s a small area surrounded by a stone wall, largely overgrown with many of the headstones toppled over or crushed.

Our GPS alerted us that their was a Geocache nearby, so while Scott Jr. searched for the treasure, I checked out the the cemetery and captured a neat picture of a butterfly sitting on one of the headstones.


After breaking here for a bit, we continued on our way to Breakheart Pond and it wasn’t long before we passed over another abandoned farm road named the Tripp Trail (No worries though, it’s gated at all ends) and came to an intersection of the J.B. Hudson & White blazed Shelter Trails. We continued right on the J.B. Hudson, also known as the ‘West Branch’ for the final 0.6 mile of our hike reaching the pond.

Here we sat on the shore as I first mentioned,  just listening to the frogs, watching birds and also checking out the waterfall.


Time to head back……We could return the way we came, but instead decided for a change of scenery and  hopped onto the White blazed Shelter trail that also left the pond by the waterfall. This 0.7 mile section of the Shelter trail is also known as the ‘East Branch’ looping back to the previously mentioned intersection with the J.B. Hudson. Because it follows the river closely there are many wet/muddy spots, some requiring a bit of rock hopping and much hillier with a short steep climb back uphill towards the end, but these are a welcomed change.


Pictured above is just one of many wet spots. Pictured below is a look back up the river to the bridge and waterfall. The map doesn’t name this river, but is leaves Breakheart Pond flowing into the Flat River.


A final short but steep uphill climb to reach the intersection


After reaching the top of the hill we reconnected with the J.B. Hudson and made our way back out to the parking area completing 3.2 miles RT.  The J.B. Hudson is a nice hike with a great reward even if you only have a couple of hours. Check it out!

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