Going the (short) distance

August was a low-mileage month. That’s fine. This has been as lovely a month as I’ve seen this year, and I know things will only get better as autumn approaches.

Crotched Mountain (Greenfield, NH) from Gregg Trail

Crotched Mountain (Greenfield, NH) from Gregg Trail

The Gregg Trail is accessible from the trailhead at Crotched Mountain hospital and rehab center in Greenfield (not the ski area, which is on the other side of the mountain in Bennington). It’s a wheelchair-accessible path to a wonderful western overlook toward Monadnock. Even on a hazy day, it’s a pleasant walk. Past the overlook, trails continue to the summit ridge, though I didn’t go that far this time.

Mt. Monadnock from Gregg Trail overlook on Crotched Mountain, hazy August day

Mt. Monadnock from Gregg Trail overlook on Crotched Mountain, hazy August day

I joined my husband for a trip to Narragansett, Rhode Island. While he had a road race, I enjoyed a quiet walk along Ocean Road. Sunny inland, clouds building offshore.

I may be the only person on record to hike Mt. Major in Alton without getting to the top. Despite being in good energetic company, I was out of breath as the last ledge came in sight. I sent my companions on as I found a comfortable place to sit: a breezy bit of ledge with a few blueberries nearby (how did earlier hikers miss them?!). Another hazy day, but even a murky view of Alton Bay and Lake Winnipesaukee is better than no view at all. Bonus: after the hike, we went to the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro. I’d never been there, and it was a treat. I recommend it to anyone interested in World War II history.

And then there’s the Nashua River Rail Trail, on which I’ve made countless walks and bike rides. No new photos this month, but I need only click “Nashua River Rail Trail” in the tag cloud on the blog’s sidebar to find photos from past trips.

Nashua River in Pepperell, Massachusetts, April 2015, seen from rail trail

Nashua River in Pepperell, Massachusetts, April 2015, seen from rail trail

Manchester-Goffstown connector: the new span is in place

August 2015: new span will soon link the Goffstown and Piscataquog (Manchester NH) rail trails. Ellen Kolb photo.

August 2015: new span will soon link the Goffstown and Piscataquog (Manchester NH) rail trails. Ellen Kolb photo.

I take back every pessimistic word I ever wrote about the difficulties that would have to be overcome in order to link the rail trails in Goffstown and Manchester, New Hampshire. The previous post on this blog, from one month ago, showed a great big empty spot where the old railroad trestle over the Piscataquog River used to be. Now, sooner than I thought possible, a new bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists is in place. It’s not yet open, but I checked out the area today and saw a serious construction effort underway on the approach to the Manchester end.

Good news, I say.

At left: a RR bridge is gone, and a recreational trail will one day take its place.

Progress on the Goffstown/Manchester NH link

Nice to see that the proposed rail trail link connecting Goffstown and Manchester is moving forward. My afternoon walk on Manchester’s west side included a stop at the end of Bremer Street to see how construction is going. The old rail trestle is gone, moving us closer to the day when we’ll have a bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the Piscataquog River. In the meantime, the Piscataquog trail on the Manchester side is in fine summer form, with plenty of shade.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Short and sweet: Yellowstone and Grand Teton

I paid my first visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in Wyoming recently. Impressions, beyond the obvious “wow”:

  • A week isn’t nearly enough for either park, never mind both. I spent a week in Yosemite a few years back and came to the same conclusion.
  • I had to choose between hiking and driving within Yellowstone. It’s vast. My husband and I wanted to see as much of the parks as we could, so we wound up driving a lot and stopping for short hikes. ┬áMy week was filled with bike paths, boardwalks and easy strolls.
  • The beauty of the west is so different from that of my familiar beloved New England that it’s hard to take in. Now I now what “Big Sky Country” means.
  • The summer crowds must be oppressive. I was in Yellowstone as Memorial Day weekend approached, which marks the beginning of the summer season. Things were already hoppin’.
  • Pelicans in Yellowstone? How did I not know about this?!

I felt very keenly that I was a mere tourist, not an adventurer. Adventurers spend more time away from their cars. But there was so much to see …!

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.

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

Everett Dam spillway in a very dry spring

Spillway downstream: empty today

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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.