July, Gregg Trail

The blueberries were gone along Crotched Mountain’s Gregg Trail on this July afternoon, but the Queen Anne’s Lace was in full bloom. A fair trade-off. Besides, there were still some raspberries left.

Queen Anne's Lace

turkey mom

This hen turkey was just off the trail, cooing softly. I’d never heard such a gentle sound from a wild turkey. A moment later I caught a glimpse of her babies, mostly concealed by the tall grass.

Lyndeborough hills from Crotched Mtn

Lyndeborough hills (Rose and Pinnacle) seen from Gregg Trail.

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Gregg Trail is graded and switchbacked to accommodate wheelchairs. It ends at an open ledge well short of Crotched Mountain’s summits.

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Uncanoonucs in Goffstown and and Joe English Hill in New Boston. 

 

Waterfall Walk

A waterfall, good company, and a Bette Davis plaque: welcome to Coppermine Brook and Bridal Veil Falls in Franconia, New Hampshire.

The plaque’s been documented elsewhere, but in brief: in the 1930s, actress Bette Davis was married to Arthur Farnsworth from nearby Sugar Hill, who died in a tragic accident. Someone, reputedly Davis, later mounted a memorial plaque on a boulder in Coppermine Brook, with an affectionate inscription to “the keeper of stray ladies.”

Bette Davis "stray ladies" plaque

The Coppermine Brook trailhead is just off NH Route 116. Our trip was a few days after heavy rains and flash flooding had left significant road and property damage in the area, and between I-93 and 116, we passed two work crews repairing washed-out edges of roads. The trail itself, alongside the brook, was a bit gullied but otherwise intact.

The trail rises about 1100 feet in two and a half miles to its terminus at Bridal Veil Falls. If you want a shorter hike, the plaque is only a mile or so from the trailhead – but you have to want to find it. No directional signs will help you. It’s on a boulder in the brook, accessible via a clearing that you’ll see between the trail and the brook. The plaque faces downstream.

 

On the way home, we stopped in Franconia Notch State Park to visit the Old Man of the Mountain profile plaza, memorializing the rock profile that became a New Hampshire icon. The rock formation collapsed 16 years ago, but the symbol remains well-loved.

Old Man of the Mountain plaque That’s my third visit to the state park in the past year, and I haven’t seen the same part of it twice. Worth a stop, even if you’re just passing through Franconia Notch to get from the state’s southern tier to the north country.

New Monadnock Guide

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Rail trail, Troy NH. Ellen Kolb photo.

Southern New Hampshire wanderers, I’ve added Monadnock Region Outdoor Activities to my bookmarks, and you might want to do likewise. It lists trails, of course, but also parks, including local ones of which I was unaware. I like the links to local conservation commission sites; I’ve found that those commissions are sometimes the only source for maps of trails on a town’s land. My compliments to the Reluctant Enthusiast for putting this resource together.

This rainy spring day puts me in mind of my last rail trail hike out Monadnock way, between Troy and Fitzwilliam. I’m about ready to find that trail again. The newly-discovered web site ought to give me more ideas for a day in Cheshire County.

The Wapack Trail: a series of dayhikes

From Ashburnham, Massachusetts to Greenfield, New Hampshire, the Wapack range extends over a series of peaks that can be seen clearly from the eastern slopes of Mount Monadnock. The 21-mile Wapack Trail spans the range, with segments that make for great dayhikes.

wapack-range-seen-from-monadnock

My copy of the the Wapack Trail guide is well-thumbed, and the map that comes with it has held up pretty well for me through the years. Map and guidebook, along with recent trail notes, are available at the Friends of the Wapack web site.

Pack Monadnock is the most popular part of the trail, with Miller State Park and the summit’s fire tower apt to draw crowds. North Pack is close enough to add for an out-and-back hike.

Other segments I’ve enjoyed: I like the ridge of Temple Mountain in July, when I can make a lunch out of blueberries. Barrett Mountain is a winter destination for me when I go snowshoeing at Windblown in New Ipswich. Watatic, at the southern end of the trail, has a wonderful open summit. The variety of birds in the Binney Pond area make the mosquitoes worth tolerating.

Endurance racers have been known to run the entire trail in a day. To each her or his own. I take the Wapack in segments, at a gentle pace. Either way, the Wapack Range is memorable.

North Pack Monadnock – Pack Monadnock

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Temple Mountain – Barrett Mountain (Windblown Cross-Country Ski Area)

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Southern section of the trail

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Mt. Kearsarge, late summer

Students from Northeast Catholic College in Warner welcomed me as I tagged along for their morning prayer service on Mt. Kearsarge. Bishop Libasci was among us as well, leading the service in the Rollins State Park picnic area before we trooped up the last half-mile to the summit. Good fellowship on a beautiful day!

Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, NH at far right, with students from Northeast Catholic College.

Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, NH at far right, with students from Northeast Catholic College.

A foggy morning gave way to sunshine in time for our summit visit.

A foggy morning gave way to sunshine in time for our summit visit.

A tantalizing view from partway up the trail.

A tantalizing view from partway up the trail.

Bonus: a new historical marker in Warner. I've photographed more than a hundred markers statewide, aiming to capture them all.

Bonus: a new historical marker in Warner. I’ve photographed more than a hundred markers statewide, aiming to capture them all.

Plan a First Day Hike for January 1

Which will it be on New Year’s Day for me? A trip to Monadnock, where I went last January 1? Maybe it’ll be a good day to check out the Little Harbor Loop in Portsmouth instead. Or perhaps, if everything falls just right, I’ll somehow be able to head north to Weeks State Park in Lancaster for a view of the Presidentials. Those are the three sites for the guided First Day Hikes 2015 being sponsored by New Hampshire State Parks and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests  All hikes are easy to moderate, and there’s no charge. Details are on the nhstateparks.org web site.

The Granite State Walker kicking off the New Year at Monadnock State Park.

The Granite State Walker kicking off the New Year at Monadnock State Park.

You can hike on your own anywhere you’d like on January 1, of course. I usually start the new year with a walk on Temple’s quiet roads, and if the weather’s right I follow that with a walk up the auto road in Miller State Park on nearby Pack Monadnock. Last year, for a change, I headed to Monadnock for the guided First Day Hike. Two hikes were offered that day: one for people who didn’t mind heading uphill in icy conditions, and one for the rest of us content to explore the lower slopes. Just fine, either way. (By the way, if you hike with your dog, Weeks State Park has the First Day Hike for you. Alas, no pets allowed on Monadnock,)

If you head to Weeks in Lancaster, don’t worry if you don’t make it to the summit. There are two lookouts partway up the auto road (pedestrians only, in the winter) that are worth a stop. Nothing like a crisp, cold day for fine views.

from summit of Mt. Prospect, Lancaster NH, 4/6/13

from summit of Mt. Prospect, Lancaster NH (Weeks State Park)