Concord’s Marjory Swope Park Trails

 

Big Vista over Penacook Lake, aka Long Pond from the northern most point of the Blue Trail.

Amy Patenaude

by Amy Patenaude
Outdoor/Ski Writer

This time of year Mother Nature gives us many cold rainy days but she can deliver a nice warm sunny day to tease us while we wait for summer to arrive. Spring weather is fickle but at least the days are longer and we have time to go for a hike after work.
Right now south of the White Mountains is a good place to hike since there is still plenty of mud and snow on higher mountaintop trails.
The City of Concord has over 50 miles of trails (http://www.concordnh.gov/trails) and the 77 acre Marjory Park Swope Park has about two miles of trails over and around Jerry Hill with big outlooks and connections to more trails. The trailhead is easily reached from Route 202, just west of St. Paul’s School, 8/10th of a mile up Long Pond Road, parking area is on the left.
On this splendid afternoon, Danielle and I decided to meet up after work for a quick hike. Danielle is nearing completing the New Hampshire Fire Tower List and is waiting patiently for a road up north to reopen so she can finish. Visiting Jerry Hill came to mind as something nearby and fun–it has concrete footing remains from a long gone observation tower on top. It may not be on the list but we like collecting peaks.

Danielle inspecting Gilfillan Rock near the summit of Jerry Hill. The Marjory Swope Park’s Orange Trail passes by the Rock and leads to a fine mountain vista.
Yours truly on top of one of the four old footings that are the remains of an observation tower on Jerry Hill. The Marjory Swope ParkTrailhead parking on Long Pond Road is less than ten minutes from downtown Concord.

At the trailhead there is a kiosk with a trail map. There is also something else interesting here, it is home to one of Concord’s six “Little Libraries”—an Eagle Scout Project. A weatherproof box on a pole that is a small library that people can use to exchange books for free.
From the kiosk go left to find the Blue Trail loop, we decided to go clockwise and then take the right onto the Yellow Trail to go straight up to the top of Jerry Hill.
The trails are easy to follow and there are lots of colored painted blazes on the trees.
The trail climbs about 300 vertical feet in just over half a mile to reach the wooded summit of Jerry Hill. We jumped on top of the concrete footings. Just like we always do when we find tower remains we wished that the tower was still standing.
Next we backtracked a short distance to the Orange Trail that we had just passed by. The Orange Trail leads to Gilfillan Rock, an outcropping of granite where most likely St. Paul students chiseled the name in memory of a classmate. Be sure to climb up on the rock to see the other carvings in the ledge—graffiti before spray cans perhaps?

Hiking the Blue Trail. The City of Concord has over 50 miles of trails. The 77 acres near Long Pond were donated by John Swope in memory of his wife and her conservation work.

Just past the Rock is a fabulous open outlook to the southwest. We could clearly see Pats Peak and Crotched Mountain and just to the right of Crotched further in the distance was Mount Monadnock.
We returned to the footings and continued to follow the Yellow Trail down where we were treated to a nice view of Mount Kearsarge before intersecting with the Blue Trail.
We turned right on the Blue Trail and in no time we reached the big vista of Penacook Lake aka Long Pond. Here there is a nice bench to sit on while enjoying the vista to the north. Over the water there are splendid mountain views, Bean Hill aka Highlands in Northfield and further beyond the Belknaps can be seen.
We continued down the Blue Trail and passed by a section of trail where trail work was recently done to make the path’s foot bed well graded. These are nice trails.
Next time you’re in Concord make it a point to take a hike.
Have fun.


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