Thursday, November 3, 2016
I recently posted my report from my visit to Pulpit Rock in Bedford, NH to a hiking related Facebook page. I received some nice comments and after explaining that I'm targeting shorter hikes in the greater Manchester area, someone mentioned that I should check out Quimby Mountain in Hooksett, NH. After doing a little searching online, I found a great trip report for Quimby Mountain on HockeyPucks Hiking and Highpointing. It was very informative and helped seal my next hiking destination!
As previously mentioned, Quimby Mountain is located in Hooksett, NH, east of Interstate 93. It serves as Hooksett's high point at 902 feet. From the research I did, I learned that there was no published trails to the top and bushwhacking would most likely be required to get to the summit. I read that it had a bald, rocky summit and also sported a benchmark (score!).
View of the Uncanoonucs with Joe English Hill just visible to the right of North Uncanoonuc
My buddy and coworker, Keith (former LFAHNH guest blogger), accompanied me on this hike to Hooksett's high point. We parked at a cul-de-sac at the end of Quimby Mountain Road. There are a couple new houses going in at this location and the view to the south is beautiful, just from where we parked. Whoever buys those houses will be very lucky. From the HockeyPucks Hiking and Highpointing's report, it seemed there was some private property that we were going to have to avoid, but we found no posted signs so we didn't worry too much about it.
We started out heading southwest down an gravel road which looked like it may become an extension of the housing development in the future. We tried to locate a good place to head into the woods (southeast) but the scrub was pretty thick. We didn't have much of a choice so we dove in and in a 30 feet or so, the woods opened up. We quickly started heading uphill and tried our best to find the path of least resistance. We soon came to a stonewall which was extremely wide, flat on the top and mostly covered with leaves and pine needles. This ancient stonewall acted as a good road to the top and we took it some of the way up. Soon, we were just below some small ledges which we were able to easily scramble to get to the summit.
Gravel road we bushwhacked from
At the top, the summit was bald as I had read. There were some great views spanning south to southwest. The trees up there seem to be slowly growing in, restricting the views from each side. There was a great view of North and South Uncanoonuc, with Joe English Hill popping up from the side. We could also make out either Pack Monadnock or Mount Monadnock in the distance (not sure which one). To the south, we could see the profile of a city in the distance. We think it was Boston but had no map to verify.
I believe this is Mount Monadnock but could be Pack Monadnock
Joe English Hill just barely popping over the north side of Uncanoonucs
What may (or may not) be the Boston skyline
Keith located the benchmark, which was hard to spot. It's right at the top and is accompanied by a drilled hole. The problem is, it's pretty small and made of an aluminum alloy so it blends into the rock easily. Being a soft metal, it's been pretty abused and looks like someone took a claw hammer to it. It's not legible.
Benchmark at Summit
Some fall colors at the summit
More fall colors with the Uncanoonucs in distance
After soaking in the views and exploring the summit for a bit, we noticed a small herd path that led down the northeast slope of the mountain. The herd path turned into a legitimate, unmarked trail and followed the property line along a stonewall. The other side of the stonewall had been clear cut for what looked like a new house lot. The trail popped out right next to the car and we felt silly we bushwhacked up instead of taking the trail! To our defense, the beginning of this trail is pretty camouflaged with weeds...so I'll just say we went the hard way up on purpose...to create a loop of course!
GPS Track, about 0.5 mile loop only
This was a great little mountain top! I'm really surprised there's not more information for this destination on the old interweb. One great thing I can say about this hike is that it solidified my desire to work on the NH town high points. Not necessarily for the need to check peaks off a list, but instead to explore new places in the wilderness that may be less traveled. It also pushes me to be a bit more adventurous by doing a little more bushwhacking, which is still outside my comfort zone. I'm definitely looking forward to some more high pointing!
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
For one of my recent lunchtime exploration destinations, I decided to check out the Moore’s Falls Conservation Area in Litchfield, NH. Moore’s Falls is a length of rapids on the Merrimack River which drops 6 feet in elevation over 650 feet in distance.
Before I get into my report, it’s notable to mention that Moore’s Falls was the location of a canal that once operated there. It was one of many canals along the Merrimack, which were located from Concord, NH to Newburyport, MA. These canals helped allow boats to navigate the rough river during the years of the textile mills. Moore’s Falls specifically was a 2000 foot long tow path canal off the east bank of the river. It is believed to have had three lock gates measuring 10 feet by 82 feet to help raise and drop the ships past Moore’s Falls. At the end of this blog, I have supplied some links for your reading pleasure that provide more information about this canal and the history of the Merrimack River canal network.
This shot is from Google Earth. I labeled the Tow Path and my "assumed" Lock
Gate locations. The Lock Gate locations are mostly covered with earth and trees now.
The Moore’s Falls Conservation Area is located on the west side of NH Route 3A in Litchfield where powerlines cross the road. There’s a kiosk at the parking area with some limited information. Behind the kiosk the trail heads down into the woods parallel to the powerlines. The trail is pretty wide and is more like a woods road than a trail.
After about 0.25 miles, the trail comes to an intersection with an old trolley track. I couldn’t find much information on the history of this trolley line. However, for present day, it looks like it’s maintained pretty well as part of the trail network.
Artifacts found on Trolley Bed. Left - Cast iron culvert pipe draining into brook.
Upper Right - Some sort of brick or ceramic flange feature in the ground. Lower
Right - Pipes for water or electric half buried on side of Trolley Bed.
After crossing the trolley track, the trail became more of a hiking trail and traversed a brook that had a very high banking. As I worked my way closer to the river, the brook broadened and worked its way deeper into the ground until it did in fact dump into the Merrimack River.
The trail then headed south, down the banks of the Merrimack. Walking along such a huge river makes you feel pretty small. I finally found a place where I could climb down the 20-30 foot banking and checkout the river. I’m pretty sure I came out right where the middle lock gate of the canal once stood. The stonework of the canal walls was visible since the river was so low. It was pretty impressive to think of how this was constructive with primitive equipment.
Canal tow path walls still visible with low water
Some of the rocks that creates the rapids of Moore's Falls
More Moore's Falls
Large boulder in the middle of the river is seen easily form arial shots (see Google Earth
Pic at beginning of post) which is about halfway down the canal
More canal tow path walls
What I believe to be the middle Lock Gate feature, with a tree
growing on it. Tow path bed is shown on the right, dry and free
of water. The seacoast is experiencing an incredible drought.
Another shot of the dry canal bed to the right.
After exploring the river and old canal features, I took a trail which headed east and met back up with the trolley bed. I headed north on the trolley bed and that dropped me back off where I had crossed the first it the first time. From there, I retraced my steps and finished back at the truck covering a total of about 1.5 miles.
This was a really cool location that I didn’t know existed. In the short one hour break for lunch, I was able to check out hiking trails, historic trolley beds, a canal that was instrumental to the textile industry in the 1800’s and some cool artifacts I found on the trolley bed. Definitely worth the hike!
Links on Moore's Falls Canal and the Merrimack River Canal System