Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mine Hill in Auburn, NH - High Point and Historical Fire Tower Location

Another small, lunchtime hike I did last fall was Mine Hill in Auburn, NH. Mine Hill is one of three hills that take credit for being the highpoint of this town at 580ft. The other two locations are Mount Miner and Mount Misery. Along with being known as the town highpoint, it is also the site a NH historical fire tower which no longer resides there. The information for this tower can be found here. So, hitting this summit allows you to check off boxes for both the NH highpoint list and the NH historical fire tower site list.

Mine Hill as seen across Massabesic Lake from its northern
shores on NH Route 121 near the 28B rotary

Another interesting tidbit about this hill is that it’s also known as “Devil’s Den”, or at least an old well or cave on the side of the hill helped term the nickname. Apparently, many years ago a body was found in the well or cave and apparently now the location is considered haunted. From the research I’ve done, there’s not much left to this specific feature as it was filled in a number of years ago. This story didn’t interest me too much so I did not go in search of this site. There are a number of YouTube videos online which would help one navigate to the site if you so choose.

The trailhead starts at Fire Road 42 on the east side of NH Route 121 almost across from where Shore Drive enters on the west side of NH Route 121. For those of you not familiar with Auburn, the town has the most extensive maze of fire roads I have ever seen! I parked my truck on the west side of the road, directly across from the gate at FR42.

Gate at FR42

I started my lunchtime journey by walking around the gate and headed in about 0.25 miles to a small clearing with a fork. I took the right leg as that headed uphill. I wasn’t super clear on directions so I was really winging it.

At the next fork, I continued right again and soon came to a stonewall, which seemed to be a party location with some creepy chairs suspended on some trees. The trail seemed to have disappeared at this point. I figured this was not right, so I backtracked to the last fork and took the left. The trail started to climb more steeply so I figured I was going in the right direction.

Soon the trail forked again. Posted property signs lined the path going straight. Going right brought you up a steep hill and had an old, unmaintained set of log stairs. I headed up the steep incline and soon came to the top of the hill. I want to note that there is a house at the top next to the summit, very close to the fire tower location. The fire tower location is not posted, but hikers should act respectful due to the proximity of the house.

Old log stairs leading up to the summit.

As many former fire locations have, the four original cement foundation blocks are still up there with some old tower junk (cables, brackets, etc.). There are no real views from the top as the trees have all grown pretty high.

Fire tower foundation blocks on summit.

 Junk left over from the fire tower.

Restricted view from the summit.

I didn't hang out for long as the house that’s up there is so close that it almost makes you uncomfortable because it feels like you’re in their backyard. After some quick pictures, I headed back down the way I came and found my truck. Unfortunately, this hike isn’t well documented online and finding the summit is a bit tricky from FR42. There are quite a few forks. Just remember to take a right at fork 1, left at fork 2 and right again at fork 3. That should get you to the top.

GPS Track, you can see where I made a wrong turn (right instead of left) at the second fork.

This was a great hike to fit in for a lunchtime break. However, if I were to do it again, I would have recruited a hiking buddy. I'm not sure why but these woods were spooky and I never really felt at ease while making my way to the top. Then, once at the top, that uneasy feeling continued being in someone's backyard. Regardless, I was able to check off a historical former fire tower location as well as a NH town highpoint (or at least 1/3 of a highpoint since there are 3 in Auburn).


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bald Hill - Newmarket NH High Point

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in my blog. There’s a couple reasons for that. First, I just haven’t been too active. Less outside activity means less activity on my blog. Second, and maybe what has impacted this the most is I have a new job. A longer, rat-race commute, new challenges and needed focus in this area has kept me strapped to my office chair for a bit. That being said, the weather is warming up and I’m excited to get back outside for my lunchtime treks. A new location came with the new job, so that means lots of new areas to explore!

Before signing off this past November, there were a couple short reports that I did not have time to post. This is one of them. Last fall, I decided to check out Bald Hill in Newmarket, NH. This hill is considered the town’s highpoint at 281 feet in elevation with no published trail leading to the top. I also found absolutely no trip reports on it so I’m hoping this one might serve as a good reference to some.

Bald Hill as seen from Jacob's Well Road in
Epping, NH, near the Newmarket border

I started my trek at a cul-de-sac which is at the end of short, new road off from Bald Hill Road in Newmarket called Hayden Place. This new road is not on any of the street maps online, but is shown on Google Map’s (Earth Satellite View) as shown below. This short road does climb Bald Hill for about one tenth of a mile.

The maps with the GPS are from Strava, the right map is Google
Maps (Satellite View) with an arrow on the cul-de-sac.

Along with the new construction going on in this development, a set of stairs have been erected leading northwest up the banking from the cul-de-sac into the woods toward the summit of Bald Hill. Along with the stairs, there’s a new kiosk which was not populated. These two things combined leads me to believe that the intention is to start a trail network at this site.

As mentioned above, there is no current trail network on bald hill. It was easy to determine which direction was up so I bushwhacked my way northwest through open woods. The terrain did change from gentle to steep grades a few times. The hill finally plateaued onto a large, flat topped hill.

View from the top...a little restricted!

The summit was completely wooded with no views. I did find some old rubbish and some hunting blind structures. There was also an old stone wall that ran the northern parameter of the high spot on the hill. Near the stone wall, I found a yellow stake. This stake was oddly shaped and didn’t look like a property marker. I’m assuming it was the summit marker. I could be wrong on this assumption but it did seem as though it was the high spot.

Old hunting blind at the top 

Some trail junk 

Stonewall on the northern perimeter of the summit area 

What I think is the summit stake, but could very well be a property bound

From the summit, I worked my way down the hill back to my truck using the same approximate route I used going up. It was a quick round trip, maybe only 20 minutes but it was cool nonetheless. I got to visit another highpoint in New Hampshire and it was a small bushwhack which I’m beginning to enjoy.