"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." ~ John Muir

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pinnacle Hill 05-10-16


We’ve had a decent stretch of nice weather this week after the long stretch of rain from last week. I took advantage of the blue skies and checked out Pinnacle Hill in Hooksett, NH at lunchtime this past Monday. (Link to a map of the area…not a trail map)

Pinnacle Hill is located very close to I93 and stands 485 feet high. The trailhead is located on Pinnacle Street off from Route 3A and is marked with a sign that reads “Pinnacle Park”. There were a couple of memorials at the trailhead as well; one on a rock and one as a bench.




From the trailhead, I headed north and quickly found myself in a forest of pine trees and birch trees. The trail was pretty wide and clear. Soon I hit a junction where a sign pointed to the summit (left). The trail then started to ascend gently and I came to another junction where you could climb by a switchback or go straight up a steep section. I decided on the steep section and figured I’d do the switchback when descending.






The trail became more rocky and filled with roots. There were lots of junctions where breakoff trails snaked around the woods, but they always seemed to connect back with the main trail. When I got near the top, I could see large granite cliffs that the trail was circling around and it reminded me of features you typically see in the Whites.








The top was partially wooded, but covered with a granite floor. There were great views to the east over to the Merrimack River. I also found 3 steel hooks buried in the granite which were most likely used as guidewire anchors for a tower of some sort.







This was definitely a great little hike and perfect length for a lunchtime jaunt. I think I’m going to definitely revisit Pinnacle Hill and check out the other trails as well as it seems there’s a viewpoint I may have missed to the north. Stay tuned for that trip report this summer


 An old image of the observation tower on Pinnacle Hill, courtesy of





 Shelter near the top

Stone Wall

More Trip Reports on Pinnacle Hill

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lunchtime Break in Bedford: Pulpit Rock 04-27-16

I hurt my back recently at Cross Fit and have been trying to find ways to stay active to both accelerate the healing process as well as not go crazy. I just have to be careful what activity I choose as to not irritate my injury further. Now that the weather is looking up, hiking is my "go to" activity. On Wednesday, I found myself looking for a small hike that was close to work and wouldn't occupy more time than my lunch break allowed. After doing some quick Google searches, Pulpit Rock was my choice of a destination. A trail map is located here.

Kiosk at trailhead off from New Boston Road

Pulpit Rock Conservation Area is located in Bedford, just east of New Boston. I parked at the northern trailhead which is located on New Boston Road and had space enough for 6-10 cars depending on how people parked.

At the trailhead, there was a kiosk with a map, some historical information on the conservation area and other standard signs you'd see limiting activity and informing visitors of the rules. From the trailhead, I headed south on the Kennard Trail which was blazed in white.

Cool broken down sign...looked like a big monster took bites out of it!

Right away, the trail crossed over wooden platforms suspended in a boggy, swampy area. I thought for sure I'd see some spring wildflowers here, but it may still be too early. After the swamp, the trail went into a wooded area that was full of pine and hemlock groves.

 Great trail markings, easy to follow

 First platforms on the trail

 Bird houses through the wetland section

Squirrel running from me on the trail

The trail itself was easy, not really ascending or descending too much, but still had enough ups and downs to be interesting. The trail was also full of large rocks and roots so it made me feel like I was on a "real mountain" trail.

Trail through the woods

At about 0.25 miles, there was a very large teepee looking structure that had been constructed, probably 12 feet high. I had seen pictures of this online and it looks like it had been there for a while. 

Teepee

Trail junk off to the side, not sure what they are

At about 0.6 miles, I came to a 4 way junction where many trails came together. I stayed on the Kennard Trail and soon came to another Kiosk which had the glacial history of the area outlined. I few steps behind the kiosk was Pulpit Rock.

 Bridge work on the trail

Strange marker found in the middle of the trail...must have been a boundary of some sort

I was really astonished at what was there. It was a cliff like ravine that had been hollowed out to a smooth bowl like cavity. It had to be 60 or 70 feet high. You don't expect to see anything like this in this part of New England. It was really something you'd see in the Whites. There was a safety cable around part of it to ensure no one slipped and fell in. I went over to the edge from a couple sides to get some snapshots, making sure my footing was solid, but my pictures couldn't do this magnificent feature any justice. The next few photos are the best I could do, but again, it doesn't really show how cool this place is.




 Cable to keep people safe from slipping and falling




After admiring the remnants of this glacial waterfall, I headed back to the parking lot the same way I trekked in. I did stop to talk with a couple local hikers that frequented the area often and they said other trails descended to the foot of the ravine where there were some nice waterfalls. That, unfortunately, would need to wait for another day as I had run out of time.

Snow fleas....the may flies are coming!!!

This is definitely an awesome hike if you're tight on time and you live in the greater Manchester area. I would caution that if you take smaller children, make sure you have them gripped tight as there are a lot of spots where someone could slip and fall.

 Trail sign collage

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Trek Up Catamount Hill in Bear Brook State Park

Every year, my company has a Wellness Week to promote a healthy, active lifestyle for its employee’s and employee’s families. About five years back for this Wellness Week, I proposed a company hike that we have been doing ever since. We try to pick someplace local and has gentle terrain to accommodate those who don’t typically hike that much. This year, we decided on Bear Brook State Park.


Bear Brook State Park is a pretty large park, encapsulating 10,000 acres and falls in the crosshairs of four towns; Allenstown, Hooksett, Candia and Deerfield. The park welcomes many different activities such as mountain biking, camping, fishing, swimming, birdwatching and of course, hiking!

Map of route taken from PDF map on State Park Website

The route I mapped out for our group started at the north end of Bear Brook State Park off from Deerfield Road. The plan was to hike in on the One Mile Trail, hang a right onto the Catamount Trail, ascending and summiting Catamount Hill (721’) and then descending to the east (same trail over the summit). This portion of the Catamount Trail then linked to the Catamount Shortcut Trail which would exit back onto the One Mile Trail. Following this back to the parking area would provide a good length, lunchtime hike. A Bear Brook State Park trail map can be found here.

Tollbooth / Ranger Hut

The parking area is located on the north side of the Deerfield Road in Allenstown, across from a tollbooth/ranger hut. After getting packed up, we headed to the trailhead which was located on the south side of Deerfield Road, to the right of the ranger hut.

One Mile Trail

Old trail or clearing to the right of the One Mile Trail

The One Mile Trail was gated a few feet after the trailhead, but there was as heard path to the right to allow hikers, bikers, etc. through easily. The trail itself was pretty flat with a gravel base, and was really more of a woods access road or old fire road than a trail. After traveling down this road for about 0.3 miles, we came to a junction with the Catamount Trail on the right.

Beginning of the Catamount Trail

The Catamount Trail was more like a real hiking trail. It was narrow and headed uphill (Catamount Hill) with rocks and roots at your footing. Evidence that autumn is upon us, we found many red maple leaves on the trail along with many mushrooms poking up from the leaves on the ground. There were many large, very cool boulders off to the sides of the trail too. It was obvious to me that the park has done a great job with trail maintenance on the Catamount Trail as there were many steeper sections that had newer rock stairs setup as well as many new water bars.


Good trail drainage guidess

 Great trail work!

More Great Trail work!

At about 0.3 miles up (0.6 miles into the trek), the trail takes a sharp left turn and there’s a trail that runs across the Catamount Trail. This crossing trail was not marked and is not on the map. I would assume it’s the remnants of an older trail (Catamount West Trail) that I think has been abandoned, but I’ve found mention of in other trip reports online. There was also a bench setup at this location.

Saddleback Mountain in Deerfield over the trees

View over Bear Brook State Park

 Tree growing straight out of a boulder...pretty cool!

Signs that fall is here!

At about 0.5 miles up (0.8 miles into the trek), we came to some granite ledges (or small cliffs) on the left which provided a view of the rest of Bear Brook State Park as well as Saddleback Mountain in Deerfield (1,150’ high). We needed to be careful of our footing here as the ledges sloped down and slipping or falling would have most definitely resulted in a bad injury. I can imagine these are very dangerous when wet. There was also a bench setup here so it served as a great place to take a quick rest and have a snack.

 View from the summit, Belknap Mountain in the distance

Zoomed in Belknap Mountain

My daughter and I on the summit...foot summit shot!

At about 0.8 miles up (1.1 miles into the trek), we summited Catamount Hill, or at least we assumed we summited. The top is long and flat, and runs southwest to northeast. You have to use your judgment to find the high point as there are no markers pointing you to the true summit location. There’s one obvious viewpoint where there’s a lookout to the north and Belknap Mountain is visible. At this location, there’s a nice bench to enjoy the views as well as a roughly constructed kiosk. The kiosk has some pictures and a great description of the trail. The description does however mislabel Saddleback Mountain as one of the 48, 4,000-footers of NH which obviously is not correct.

 Kiosk on summit

Notice the mistake about labeling Saddleback as one of the 48-4K's

After having some lunch and searching for bugs with the kiddos, we continued on the Catamount Trail which circled down the summit on the southeastern slope. We passed a large cairn and a trail sign and headed back into the woods down a pretty steep section of trail for about 0.4 miles (1.5 miles into trek). We then came to a junction where the Catamount Shortcut Trail entered to the left and the Cascade Trail entered to the right. We continued our loop via the Catamount Shortcut Trail. In another 0.4 miles (1.9 miles into trek), we hung another left onto the One Mile Trail and headed back to the parking lot. The loop distance was approximately 2.3 miles in all.

Cairn just past the summit area before you head back into the woods

 Yellow blazes down the trail

 View of the Catamount Shortcut Trail

My daughter and I heading down the One Mile Trail on the way back to the parking lot

This hike was a great family style hike. We had flat, easy terrain. We had moderate elevation gaining terrain. Finally, we had a few steep sections too. There were two rewarding viewpoints for the effort and some great features (like boulders, mushrooms, etc.) to checkout along the way. Best of all, it was a lollipop loop hike. I love loop hikes because you’re typically not on the same trail twice. I would highly recommend checking out this hike if you have a couple hours to kill, want to get out walking the dog or go hiking with the family! 

Signage from the parking lot to the summit!

 Signage from the summit back to the parking lot!

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