Monday, July 21, 2008

There's more than one mountain to climb...

With a base elevation around 1400' and a peak elevation of 3165' and forty miles of trails, Mt Monadnock stands alone as the main hiking destination of our region but it is not the only way to enjoy the outdoor beauty of our region. In just the past two weeks we have walked/hiked three other trails nearby the B&B.

Edward MacDowell Lake which is just two minutes from the B&B has a 3.5 mile loop that you can start from either side of the dam and walk all the way around but our recommendation is to walk the West Ridge Trail as an "out and back" hike. Drive across and park on the other side of 70' high dam MacDowell Dam and follow the trail north into the woods. The trail will keep you in the shade from a full canopy of trees above, is well marked and is fairly flat hike with gentle elevation changes throughout the walk.

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The lake will pop in and out of view on your right for about the first mile but the true reward comes around the 1.5 mile mark when the lake gives way to Stanley Brook. You will notice it is a little cooler as the trail walks right along the brook for a short distance.

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You will want to stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of the brook as it flows over small rocks and around large boulders. When the trail crosses the brook on a small foot bridge (about two miles), this is a good place to turn around for your your return trip.

Other walking trails we explored were at the 47 acre Shieling State Forest just five minutes from the B&B. If you are looking for some solitude and do not have time for a long hike or don't one anything to strenuous, this is an ideal spot.

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The last hike we did was a real treat, a 1.4 mile hike up South Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park just ten minutes from the B&B. The round trip will take you just under two hours as you climb nine hundred vertical feet to the 2300' summit. This trail is rarely flat and some areas require the use of hands to climb some large rock steps. Several clearings along the way offer you scenic viewing stops as well as a look at the former Temple Mountain Ski Area across the way where the old trails are filling in and the trails are disappearing. Along the way there are opportunities to pick some wild blueberries and there are picnic tables at the top along with a 30' high fire watch tower which allows you to get above the trees for wonderful views of the region. In the Fall the Audubon Society sets up a Hawk Migration Watch Site to watch the hawks migrate south for the winter. We used the blueberries for breakfast the next morning and for a fruit salad in the afternoon (yum)!

Note: the trail we hiked on South Pack was part of the 21 mile Wapack Trail and you could continue north towards North Pack (which we have also hiked and really enjoyed) or head south over Temple Mountain towards Massachusetts and the southern terminus.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as mountains and state parks to hike and explore and guests can always get recommendations and trail maps from us here at the B&B before heading out for a day of outdoor fun!

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