Amherst’s icy Bragdon Hill is hot potato

AMHERST – It might be the best sledding spot in New Hampshire, but Bragdon Hill was a serious problem for rescue workers in February after a melt-freeze cycle turned the steep sloop into ice.

EMTs had to wear cleats to reach a young women who was injured after she couldn’t stop her sled, and the popular sledding hill on the border between Bedford and Amherst was temporarily closed. Amherst Deputy Fire Chief Mark Conley said keeping the hill open under those conditions would put rescuers at risk.

At their March 24 meeting, selectmen reported that the Amherst Conservation Commission, which manages the hill, was “very grateful” for the EMTs’ work, but also decided it no longer wants to be responsible for the hill.

The commission keeps a sand bucket in the cow tunnel that allows people to get to the hill by passing under Route 101 from the parking lot on the other side of the highway.

The commission called sledding “a more active use of the land,” though Selectmen noted that sledding is no more active than cross-country skiing on town forests, which the commission also manages,

But the commission felt it is “not in the best position,” to care for the hill. Selectmen suggested that the town’s Public Works Department fill the sand bucket when it is making its rounds.

Selectmen’s Chairman Dwight Brew also said he is concerned that if the town closes the hill when it seems to be dangerous, it would expose itself to liability.

“We want to make sure that in some reverse way we’re not getting ourselves in more trouble,” Brew said.

Town Administrator Jim O’Mara noted that there are signs on both sides of the road saying people use the hill at their own risk.

Unfortunately, he said, the accident occurred around the same time some news outlet called Bragdon the best sledding hill in the state.

Bragdon Hill is part of Bragdon Farm, which the town acquired from the Bragdon family in the mid-1990s.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at or 673-3100, ext. 304.