Lake Massabesic, Auburn, New Hampshire

Rockingham Trail/Lake Massabesic

Workday or not, an 80-degree spring day calls for some trail time. Decked out in business clothes and dress shoes, I spent midday on a tame but worthwhile path: the Rockingham Recreational Trail from its Lake Massabesic trailhead in Auburn.

Rockingham Recreational Trail (Portsmouth branch), Auburn NH, east of NH Rt. 121

Rockingham Recreational Trail (Portsmouth branch), Auburn NH, east of NH Rt. 121

The trail extends more than twenty miles east to Newfields, which would make an interesting bike ride some other day. Pressed for time today, I walked only about a mile and a half before retracing my steps back to my car. I took my time to enjoy the birds (quite a variety near the lake) and take a few pictures from a boat launch. The trail is unpaved but wide and well-trodden. It was popular this midday: moms with kids, a guy fishing in a trailside pond, lots of dog walkers, even one dirt biker in defiance of the no-motorized-vehicle rule. (The operator’s trail manners were impeccable, aside from the motorized part.)

View of Lake Massabesic from boat launch just off Rockingham Rec Trail and NH Rt. 121.

View of Lake Massabesic from boat launch just off Rockingham Rec Trail and NH Rt. 121.

More information on this trail can be found on the New Hampshire State Parks web site and in the book New Hampshire Rail Trails by Charles Martin.

Everett Lake; Mt Kearsarge in distance

To Weare & the Everett Dam

Clough State Park with its little beach on Everett Lake in Weare is still awaiting its opening day, but walkers are welcome on the nearby Everett Dam. This would have been a mountaintop day if I’d had the time; the air was amazingly clear. I settled for a half-hour walk along the dam and the quiet roads nearby.


View across the dam from the parking area on Clough Park Road

Everett Dam spillway in a very dry spring

Spillway downstream: empty today


Everett Lake, with Mount Kearsarge in the distance

North Uncanoonuc from Everett Dam

Looking south towards Goffstown’s North Uncanoonuc

Nashua River Rail Trail spring update

Conditions on the Nashua River Rail Trail are pretty good for the second week of April, especially in view of the exceptionally cold and snowy winter we had here in New England. I scouted a couple of parking areas and then walked the stretch between MA 113 in Pepperell and Sand Hill Road in Groton.

The trees aren’t yet in bud, so the river was the star of the show today.

Nashua River in Pepperell, Massachusetts, April 2015

Nashua River in Pepperell, Massachusetts, April 2015

Parking areas:

  • Gilson Road, Nashua: gate is open; ice and snow cover half the lot but about 20 parking spaces are clear and open.
  • NH Route 111-A at Nashua/Hollis line: plenty of roadside parking.
  • State line at Dracut: lots of snow was plowed into the far side of the lot, leaving room for three or four cars.
  • MA Route 113 in East Pepperell: clear and open.
  • Sand Hill Road, Groton: a snow pile covers about half the lot, but there’s still room for about ten cars.

Trail surfaces:

  • Pepperell: some patches of ice and snow, which should be gone soon with a few more 50-degree days.
  • Groton: mostly snow-covered between town line and Sand Hill Road. About three inches of well-trodden soft snow make for an uneven surface, but it’s certainly passable on foot.

It’s the beginning of another beautiful season on the NRRT. I’m looking forward to it.

New Cohos Trail web site goes live

The Cohos Trail is about 160 miles long, winding through New Hampshire’s North Country from Crawford Notch to the Canadian border. The northernmost section is a favorite of mine, and I’ve recounted my longest hike there at my blog Cohos to Canada.

The official web site for the trail has just gone live after a complete re-design. Check it out, and I hope you’ll share it with your friends. If you’re a New Hampshire hiker and you’ve never been north of the Whites, the site will inspire you. If you’re from more distant parts, the Cohos Trail just might tempt you to this little corner of New England.

Pliny Range, north of Cherry Pond along the Cohos Trail

Pliny Range, north of Cherry Pond along the Cohos Trail

Temple, January 1

I made my customary New Year’s Day drive out to the Monadnock region, deciding at the last minute not to do the fun little 5k race (walk, in my case) in Temple that would have set me back $20. Instead, I continued to the Wapack trailhead in Sharon. No trails or uphill work for me this day – lazy, out-of-shape, call me what you will. I did my 5k on local roads, blessedly free of traffic and ice.

Temple Road in Sharon; Mt. Monadnock in the distance

Temple Road in Sharon; Mt. Monadnock in the distance

It wasn’t a brisk walk. I kept stopping to take pictures. Most of the photos are unusable thanks to midday’s harsh lighting. I like this one, though. My route today was flat, except for the gentlest rise on Temple Road where I got a glimpse of Mount Monadnock.

Have a wonderful new year, with plenty of Granite State walks.

Hike safe card: yes, I’m in

New Hampshire Fish & Game is selling a Hike Safe card beginning on New Year’s Day, in an effort to boost the search-and-rescue fund. Given the amount of time I spend on trails, and with my boneheaded decisions from a day on Monadnock more than a year ago still fresh in my memory, I’m going to plunk down the $25. Hunters and boaters have helped fund Fish and Game’s rescue work for years by means of a surcharge on their annual licenses. It’s about time hikers like me got into the act.

Hikers with a Hike Safe card will not be responsible for repaying any rescue costs incurred due to the hiker’s negligence. Reckless or intentional behavior is not covered. In other words, Don’t Be Stupid.

FAQs about the program are answered on the Fish and Game web site. The card is available for online purchase only.


Muddy trails, four-footed friends

Boots, you fool. Boots. Two days in a row, I’ve gone out in running shoes when boots would have been a much better idea. It’s uncommonly warm for late December, and a recent gentle 24-hour rain left local paths muddy. I’ve been on flat trails close to home, nothing adventurous, but they’ve left me with very dirty shoes. No harm done.

(And what was I thinking when I bought white athletic shoes? Nothing meant to be worn outdoors should be white, except for reflective tape.)

Nashua River at Mine Falls Dam. Spring runoff can cover those rocks.

Nashua River at Mine Falls Dam. Spring runoff can cover those rocks.

I wondered if there’d been enough rain to make Mine Falls into a real falls. The Nashua River can be quite impressive at that spot during a good spring runoff. How about December? Average, I discovered, but still lovely.

I’ve shared the trails recently with a lot of dogs, leashed and unleashed. I don’t have any pets myself, but I have a soft spot for friendly and well-mannered dogs, like the majestic Newfoundland that accompanied its owners through Horse Hill yesterday when I was there. Just on the last couple of walks, I’ve seen a broader selection of canines than usual. To name a few: pit bulls, a Yorkie, standard poodles, a dachshund, a greyhound, and one exotic-looking creature that I had to resort to Wikipedia to identify, a Komondor. No wildlife. Perhaps the dogs saw to that.

The year will end with snow-free trails in my area, thanks to this warm spell. It won’t be the first time I’ll ring in the new year with spring-like conditions. I can always head a couple of hours north if the call of the snowshoes proves irresistible.