Hint of fall

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Goffstown, New Hampshire. The “W” is a mystery to me. Ellen Kolb photo.

This has been a summer of drought in southern New Hampshire. The heat seems exaggerated. Even the weeds are beginning to show signs of stress. Today, though, a few yellow beech leaves drifted down in front of me as I walked on the Goffstown rail trail – reminding me that summer’s end is in sight.

Will the fall foliage be affected by the drought? I don’t know. Even if the usual brilliance is dimmed, fall will be my favorite season with its crisp air. Today’s hint – those few leaves lazily dropping along my way – was enough to make me realize that my favorite time of year is almost here.

Another NH rail trail link completed: Manchester-Goffstown

The Singer family's behind many philanthropic efforts in the Manchester area. It's fitting that the bridge carries the Singer name.

The Singer family’s behind many philanthropic efforts in the Manchester area. It’s fitting that the bridge carry the Singer name.

New Hampshire’s Piscataquog Rail Trail finally reaches across the Piscataquog River, connecting Manchester with Goffstown. I put off some workday tasks long enough to walk the trail from its east end all the way across the new bridge. With all due respect and gratitude to the many people who made the project happen (Manchester Moves and the Singer family, for starters), I didn’t stay for the ribbon-cutting and speechifyin’. Trails are for walking.

On the Manchester side, looking toward Goffstown, at long last.

On the Manchester side, looking toward Goffstown, at long last.

On the Goffstown side.

On the Goffstown side.

I call this right neighborly.

I call this right neighborly.

It was a good morning to walk along the trail all the way to the Merrimack River flowing past Manchester’s millyard. It’s mid-autumn and the foliage might be considered past peak, but it’s still beautiful as far as I’m concerned.

Second Street bridge, near east end of Piscataquog Rail Trail.

Second Street bridge, near east end of Piscataquog Rail Trail.

The Queen City: Manchester, New Hampshire.

The Queen City: Manchester, New Hampshire.

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.

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.

A short Manchester stroll: no bridge, but plenty of sunshine

I reported last April on plans to build a pedestrian bridge over the Piscataquog River to link rail trails in Manchester and Goffstown. How’s that going? Alas, very slowly, it appears. The old trestle is still in place, still fenced off, with no new bridge next to it.  I know these things take time. Here’s hoping that all the factors come together soon.

I couldn’t visit Manchester’s side of the trail on a fall afternoon without spending a half hour on it. My last visit to this segment was three years ago. I took these photos today to show how the leaves aren’t at peak color yet in this area. I should have another couple of weekends for leaf-peeping.

This will be a pedestrian crossing, someday.

This will be a pedestrian crossing, someday.

Piscataquog River upstream of the old rail crossing

Piscataquog River upstream of the old rail crossing

Fences between the trail and private yards are softened by blossoms like this.

Fences between the trail and private yards are softened by blossoms like this. Note the lack of fall color. The best is yet to come.

 

 

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North Uncanoonuc, late fall

Kiosk at Mountain Road parking area near town waterworks gate. No take-along maps available; download one before you go. 

Western view towards the Monadnocks from North Uncanoonuc. The haze is typical.

My boots had cobwebs in them when I picked them up for this afternoon’s hike in Goffstown. It’s been too long since the last hike. The Uncanoonuc hills are close by, have easy trails, and offer fairly good views, so that’s where I went. Not a bad little local jaunt.

On this clear day in the 40s,  the little parking area on Mountain Road at the town waterworks was almost full. “Full” means about eight cars, so crowds were not a problem. I headed for North Uncanoonuc’s summit via the snowmobile trail marked as a class VI road. (Download the map at www.goffstowntrails.com.) The slippery leaves & loose rocks made made me watch my step, but this is an easy hike overall.  At a casual pace, I got to the summit in just over half an hour.

People brought their kids and dogs today. Most, like me, were taking it easy. A few ambitious souls ran a big loop beginning on the trail I took, then over the summit to the White Dot trail (not to be confused with the famous one on Monadnock) and back to Mountain Road. Must be nice to be fit.

Unlike the south peak, which boasts a decent view of Manchester, North Uncanoonuc offers views west  to the Wapack Range and north to Mt. Kearsarge.  (The Kearsarge vista is a few hundred yards down from the summit on the White Dot trail.) The ledgy summit pokes just far enough up from forest & shrubs to reward hikers with some pleasant sights. It’s a great picnic spot, too.