October Assortment

This has been a muted fall in New Hampshire, which is not to say a bad one. There are brilliant trees here and there, but for the most part, this month has been dominated by gold and bronze. Here’s my October sampler, featuring Oak Hill, Horse Hill Preserve, Ponemah Bog, Craney Hill, and Crotched Mountain.

Oak Hill, Concord

It had been seven years since my last walk to the fire tower on Oak Hill. Finally, I got back there. I had been warned about wasps near the cab, but the first frosts must have  nipped them.

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Oak Hill fire tower, Concord NH

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View to west from Oak Hill. The plume of steam is from a plant near the Concord-Boscawen town line.

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A small notice announces a new trail on Oak Hill, created by Concord High School students.

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The day’s best maple leaves, spotted along the two-mile trail leading to the Oak Hill fire tower.

 

Horse Hill Nature Preserve, Merrimack

The best color this fall has been in the wetlands, not the hills. A walk to the center of the Horse Hill preserve rewarded me with much brighter foliage than I’d seen just a couple of days earlier on a drive toward the Monadnocks.

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I’m amazed that the beavers haven’t abandoned this lodge so close to a Horse Hill trail. I guess we hikers haven’t been disruptive.

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Leaf-peeping in one of my favorite spots in Horse Hill Preserve.

 

Ponemah Bog, Amherst

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The shrubs and water plants in the bog were showier than the trees.

Craney Hill, Henniker

The NH Fire Towers page on Facebook clued me in to the Craney Hill lookout tower, once a fire tower. Now, it’s open to the public two weekends a year, during foliage season. I made it to the tower just in time – last visitor on the last day!

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Craney Hill lookout tower, Henniker NH.

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From Craney Hill, looking toward Craney Pond, mid-October.

 

Crotched Mountain, Greenfield-Bennington

I didn’t stop with the Gregg Trail this time. Two friends joined me for a walk to the ridgetop via Shannon’s Trail. I owe thanks to the folks who managed to get a picnic table up there.

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The view from the picnic table atop Crotched Mountain: a hint of color, and distant Monadnock. And oh, that sky.

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Mt. Skatutakee, Early Fall

I headed to Hancock hoping to find some autumn color, but foliage season is only skimming the Monadnocks so far. The brilliant colors are a couple of weeks away. I had a beautiful drive nonetheless, followed by a good walk up Mt. Skatutakee on the property of the Harris Center for Conservation Education. (Check the “Trails” tab on that site for maps to local trails.) Great early fall conditions: sunny, cooling down, no bugs.

With or without fall color, Skatutakee’s summit is a good spot for lunch, just as I recalled. I was last there about thirteen years ago on a spring day when the blackflies were ferocious and ladyslippers were everywhere. I remember great views from that day, so the shrubs at the summit must have been trimmed back at the time.

I started too late in the day to add Thumb Mountain to the hike, with its Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down trails connecting to Skatutakee. That’s an inviting route for another day.

Harriskat trail

Harriskat Trail. Leaves are falling, but the maples haven’t turned yet. 

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The view from the Skatutakee summit south to Mount Monadnock was limited by the leafed-out trees. 

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Caterpillars are out and about.

North Pack and Pack from Skatutakee

North Pack Monadnock (at left) and Pack Monadnock, seen from Skatutakee’s summit.

Reblogged: Another N.H. Border-to-Border Walk

Wendy Thomas and son Griffin have made their second New Hampshire border-to-border walk, this time on a west-to-east route. (I wrote briefly last year about their first trip.) In this post from her own blog, Wendy offers advice for people contemplating their own adventures.

Griffin and I are back from our 2017 Border-to-border New Hampshire walk. As always we returned with lots of lessons learned. I’ll be writing up our adventures (just like I did from last year’s), but for now here are some tips for anyone who might be planning day-long walks. Water – make sure you […]

via Lesson 1549: 2017 NH Border-to-border walk — Lessons Learned from the Flock

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.