Horatio Colony Nature Preserve

The Horatio Colony Nature Preserve (HCNP) is a 645-acre parcel of diverse upland forests and wetlands in Keene and Swanzey, New Hampshire.

The Preserve features five miles of hiking trails, a historic cabin and foundations, numbered interpretive signposts, and a public program series. It also provides an exceptionally beautiful location for place-based learning and research initiatives conducted by faculty and students of Antioch University New England.

Printed maps and guidebooks that correspond with signposts can be found in a trail guide dispenser at the base of the Red Diamond Trail off Daniels Hill Road.


Our Purpose

Antioch University New England’s collaboration with the Colony Memorial Trust to manage the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve helps the university realize its mission and values. Faculty, administration, and students partner with a prominent community organization to apply our belief in ecological stewardship and place-based practices for scholarship, activism, and service-learning.


Teaching, Learning, and Research

Whether for research, class work, or recreation, the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve is an excellent resource for students.

Field Research

The Horatio Colony Nature Preserve is an excellent place for class, thesis, or dissertation or personal research.

We value your use of the preserve for research and we are here to help! Before beginning research at HCNP please fill out our simple Site Use Form.

Please use the following guidelines for HCNP Field Research.

Please remember:

  • Plants, animals, and other ecology of the preserve are to be left in place. If you need to make collections, please contact the Project Manager as we have some rare species on the preserve.
  • We have a rich history of research projects on the preserve. Please leave any plot markers/equipment in place and avoid disturbing current research sites.
  • Please label any research sites (flagging, etc.) with the research topic, email and phone number for lead researcher, and begin and end dates of study. This helps us know which projects are taking place and which have expired. Please remove flagging, signs, or labels at the conclusion of your study.

Place-Based Education & Learning at Horatio Colony Nature Preserve

Departmental relevance: Use of the preserve is relevant and beneficial to any of the following classes, topics, and more.

  • Psychology: Spirituality in nature, nature for stress relief, wilderness therapy, movement therapy, grief/loss counseling
  • Education: Childhood & nature, nature-based education, ecology of imagination, natural history, place-based education
  • Environmental Studies: Ecological thought, community ecology, conservation psychology, vertebrate ecology, New England flora
  • Management: Ecological economics, teamwork & diversity


About the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve

In 1977, the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve was set aside as a wildlife refuge through the will and testament of the late Horatio Colony II. The Colony Memorial Trust (CMT) managed the property on its own until 1987. In 1985, Antioch University New England conducted the first natural resource inventory across 415 acres. Under the supervision of Dr. Rick Van de Poll, 11 graduate students completed a comprehensive study of the preserve’s biodiversity.

In 1987, based on the success of this partnership, Antioch signed a maintenance and use agreement with CMT. Trail construction and maintenance were completed along with the establishment of regular educational programming.

Antioch continues to actively manage the preserve. Graduate students work with an Antioch Project Manager to maintain trails, coordinate use, and develop educational programs with schools and the public. This collaboration enables the university to realize its mission: ecological stewardship and place-based practices for scholarship, activism, and service-learning.

In 2005, CMT added 199 acres to the preserve. In 2012, thirty-one more acres were added. Both additions were contiguous to the original preserve and located in Swanzey, NH. This growth brought preserve acreage to 645 and extended the trail system 1.5 miles via the Bailey Brook Trail.

The Colony family played a significant role in Keene history. Please visit the Horatio Colony House Museum Website for additional information about the family and their legacy. To learn more about The Hill, the Mill, and the Museum, check out this video!

Archives & Library Guides

Throughout the years since Antioch University New England’s collaboration with the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve began, various students, faculty, and program managers have initiated exciting research endeavors at the preserve. Below you will find links to the HNCP Library Guides through the Antioch New England library. These guides include documents, reports, data sheets, and supplementary information for various projects. In addition to research projects, you will find examples of educational programs/curriculum and public programs previously employed by and with the preserve.

Antioch students and faculty are encouraged to use these resources to supplement their own research and educational activities at Antioch. However, as with any primary sources, please remember to cite these works and give credit to the authors when used. If you have questions about the authors or citations, please contact the Project Manager.

Follow the links below to access HCNP Library Guides:

HCNP General Info
Find information about the preserve including maps, trail guides, and historical studies.

Find data and reports from research projects at the preserve that can supplement future research. Topics include birds, fungi and lichens, herpetology, mammology, plants, and soils.

Find examples of place-based activities as curricula for elementary and high-school students that have taken place at the preserve.



The parking lot and trailhead are located on Daniels Hill Road in Keene. From Keene, take Route 9 West toward Brattleboro and turn left on Daniels Hill Road (approximately 1 mile outside of Keene). The parking lot is 1/8 of a mile ahead on the left.

Satellite view of directions to Horatio colony nature preserve

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