(The new AMC Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide is Out!)
by Amy Patenaude Weirs Times Outdoor/Ski Writer
May was a great month for skiing and hiking! Becca and I skinned up Cannon and skied down after taking an extra lap up high on the Profile Trail. We also hiked up to Tuckerman Ravine; I skied, Becca snowboarded, The Chute and Left Gully. We had to work to get our spring fun on snow and it was a blast. No more skiing for me until next Thanksgiving!
The 4th edition of the Appalachian Mountain Club Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide and map are now available. The new guide has been revised and updated and its pullout map features the trails of Mount Monadnock, Mount Cardigan, and Mount Sunapee and now includes The Belknap Range. The book covers more than 200 trails and nature areas in Southern New Hampshire. This new edition is a must have because our State’s great hiking trails do more than just go over 4,000 footers.
I did three outings to Mount Monadnock in April and I just made my fourth trip to finish hiking all the trails and paths in the park. I missed a 2/10th of mile long Old Ski Path that I meant to visit on my first outing but I failed to find the trail. Paths get less use than the main trails on the mountains and signs marking paths are set back from the main trails.
Mount Monadnock can be a busy place, but if you do your research you will discover that there are options beyond the State Park Headquarters. The Old Toll Road and Gilson Pond are popular trailheads too. There is a five dollar fee per person to enter and dogs are not permitted anywhere in the Park.
The Old Ski Path runs between the Red Spot and the White Dot Trail. I started from the State Park Headquarters since I did not find the trail from the Red Spot Trail. I still didn’t have an easy time finding the trail. The great numbers of people that hike the White Dot have made many herd paths in all directions and some people have taken to stacking rocks for art’s sake and not for trail marking.
I love Monadnock’s summit, elevation 3,159 feet. The grand peak stands alone and the vista from its summit is truly grand. Monadnock is a real mountain with plenty of ledgy scrambles and steep sections to climb to reach the top. There are excellent trail descriptions in the new guide book, hint, hint.
Looking south from Monadnock’s summit there is a small double-humped mountain, Gap Mountain. The New Hampshire section of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail is 18.5 miles long and from Monadnock it crosses Gap and Little Monadnock Mountains. My friend Ellen was game to do a car drop and do a point to point hike with me. There is a detailed trail map within the new guide book of the trails on Gap.
We hiked from north to south starting at the Royce Trail on Rte 124 (no parking on Rte 124, we left a car at the Old Toll Road). The trails are well marked and we enjoyed walking through the lovely forest in the NH Forest Society’s Gap Mountain Reservation. From Gap’s ledgy north summit Mount Monadnock looked huge and bald! Adding to beauty were that wildflowers were blooming all along the trail
After going over the north peak and down into the gap we located the unmarked herd path to the higher south summit. On the south peak someone build a large cairn; the view is not as open as the north but it was well worth the trip.
I look forward to continuing south on the M-M Trail this summer. Onward to Little Monadnock and Rhododendron State Park and more new to me places to go!
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.