Purgatory Falls, finally

Lower Purgatory Falls (E. Kolb photo)

Lower Purgatory Falls (E. Kolb photo)

I recently made it to one of my area’s more popular trails for the first time in ages. It’s another one of the southern New Hampshire treasures easy to take for granted.

When a late start forced a friend and me to change our plan to hike upstate last week, she suggested Purgatory Falls as a nearby hike that we could enjoy with her dogs. Sounded good to me. We started at the lower end of Purgatory Brook, at the trailhead on Purgatory Road in Milford a short distance north of North River Road. We had very little company, but my friend assured me that it can get crowded on weekends and in warmer weather.

I’m not used to hiking with dogs, and my friend brought her black Lab and her Shar-Pei. Both dogs were familiar with the trail and could hardly wait to jump out of the car at the trailhead. We decided to use leashes at first, until we were sure no other dogs were around. The Shar-Pei walked me – I can’t pretend I was controlling the dog! He was a calm and poky thing compared to his fellow pup, though. Maggie the Lab ran ahead of us, around us, into the brook and back again. A good time was had by all.

We took an hour to get to the upper Falls, but that was with plenty of doggie diversions. The walk back to the car was quicker, with the dogs a little less rambunctious.

I have relatives living in the village near upper Falls, and they once took me on a walk (a Thanksgiving day, as I recall) to see that spot. The walk from the village along unpaved Upham Road took us past the Purgatory Falls Fish and Game Club, at which point the road became a clear trail. It’s pleasant any time of year, I’m sure, although I’d pack the usual bug repellent in spring or summer.

Information about the trail is on the Mont Vernon town web site, and it’s mentioned in most southern New Hampshire trail guides.

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