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Day Tripping: Revisiting A Knight’s Pond Hike

Kathi Caldwell-Hopper - September 16, 2013

Knight's Pond

Knight’s Pond

It’s been a long time since I went on a hike. I used to hike regularly when my two kids were small and especially after we got our beloved dog, Lilly. In the spring and summer, we would pack up the car, tell Lilly it was time for a hike (she was always ready for a doggie adventure) and head to such trails as Locke’s Hill in Gilford and the Profile Falls/Old Hill Village area in Bristol.

Once my kids grew and headed off to college and Lilly’s legs got arthritic, the hikes seemed to be fewer and fewer. Over Memorial Day Weekend (one of driving rain on Saturday and Sunday, as many probably recall), we ate out, went to the movies, and shopped. When the sun came out and the day became one of those brilliant, cool, breezy, and sparkling days on Memorial Day Monday, my daughter exclaimed, “I can’t stay inside any longer! I’m going crazy! Let’s go someplace.”

It did not take me long to be persuaded to get out of the house. Megan was home for just a few weeks before starting a summer internship in the Midwest and I was trying to wring out every ounce of Mom/daughter time possible. She has always loved hiking, so I found myself saying, “Let’s hike the Knight’s Pond trail.”

“But what about your foot?” she asked hesitantly. (I have dealt with a foot injury for over a year and while it has improved greatly, I had not been brave enough to tackle a big hike.) I recalled the trail from a class trip I chaperoned for my son when he was in elementary school many years ago. I remember the nightmare of galloping an up-and-down, deeply wooded trail beside a pond in an effort to keep up with my son and the other rambunctious kids in his group. It wasn’t an enjoyable trip — but that was years ago under far different circumstances and I was ready to try again.

I reasoned that if I was not up to hiking the trail, I could always turn around and head back to the car. My only concern was the great amount of rain we had experienced in the Lakes Region in the days before our proposed hike. Would the trail be muddy and difficult? Once again, I reasoned it was worth the effort.

Finding Knights Pond is a bit of a challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the East Alton area. We took Route 11 from Laconia to Alton Bay and then Route 28 north heading toward Wolfeboro. Off Route 28, take Rines Road (on the right). The road will change to dirt, and drivers should keep left at a fork. At the top of the hill is the road on the left with a gate.

From the gate, the dirt road is fairly well-maintained and leads to a small parking area; on busy days, vehicles may park along the side of this dirt access road. Please be sure and drive very slowly on this road because it does have a lot of bumps and it is narrow.

We parked along the side of the road, noticing that, on this first sunny day in a week, many others had the same idea of hiking Knight’s Pond. The little parking lot was full but those parked on the roadside were courteous enough not to block any other car in.

Before beginning our hike, we left a note at home for my husband, telling him where we were going, when we left, and when weexpected to return. This is very important, as any seasoned hiker will tell you. No one expects to get lost or have an accident on the trail, but mishaps do occur and it’s wise to let someone know where you are headed. We packed bottled water and crackers and had our cell phones with us. Sturdy hiking shoes completed the necessities, as well as sweatshirts in case the weather turned chilly.

We hiked down the access road to a metal gate and a wooden sign with trail information. The sign states that the conservation area is protected property of the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. With 5,545 feet of scenic, undeveloped frontage on Knight’s Pond, the trail offers a unique opportunity to see an entire watershed and shoreline and, potentially, lots of wildlife. Further, the sign stated that the area offers quiet recreation, education, and scientific research for those who hike the trail. I read that the trail offers exceptional views of Mount Longstack, Rines Hill, and Caverly Mountain; I knew we were in for a nice adventure hike. (It should be noted also that the sign stated open hours for visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; after Labor Day, the hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

We walked around the gate and continued on the access road until we saw a small sign on our left that said “trail”. The path led into the woods and we followed the way into a heavily wooded area. It was admittedly muddy and slippery in places but I was determined to continue. With the help of my daughter’s steadying hand, I skirted the trickles and small streams of water and muddy areas. I would advise those who take the trail after a lot of rain to be sure and watch your footing, because it can be muddy.

The trail was marked with blue paint spots on trees and this was very helpful. We took the path on a bit of an upward incline but soon came out on a more even grade. It did not take long for vistas of gorgeous Knight’s Pond to come into view on our right. We were able to step down to the pond’s edge and view nature in all its glory everywhere we looked.

The pond is quite large and, while there must have been others on the trail, we did not see anyone for quite some time. When we did, the couple smiled and said hello and allowed us to pet their friendly little dog.

Speaking of dogs, please be aware that many people walk their dogs on this trail. We passed a number of friendly and very well-trained canines, with their owners nearby. We love dogs, so it was absolutely no problem for us, but it is best to be aware that our canine friends enjoy the trail as much as human hikers!

The trail followed the pond with multiple water/mountain views, all worthy of photos. Eventually we came to a charming wooden bridge that spans a swampy area on one side and the expanse of the pond on the other. We sat on the bridge and took a break to drink some water, eat our crackers, and to simple absorb the quiet and natural beauty.

After the bridge area, we entered a wonderful portion of the trail that followed the water’s edge. It was fairly easy walking and offered up-close views of the work of pond beavers: Tall trees had fallen here and there and had many animal chew and gnawing marks.

“Did a beaver chew on that tree?” my daughter asked in wonder as we inspected a fallen tree. Nearby the beaver could well have made a quick escape into the pond when humans happened to walk past.

Eventually we came upon other hikers and smiled our hellos. At the top of a rise, we were not sure whether to take the path when it split in two — one with white paint on the trees and the other path in blue markers. Luckily, a friendly woman (with a large and goofy friendly black Lab dog) stopped to chat and told us that either path leads around the pond.

We chose to stay on the blue markered trail which continued around the pond. We passed a family at the pond’s edge, fishing poles in hand. Everyone was out enjoying the beautiful weather and all were quiet, friendly, and respectful.

All too soon, the trail ended and we were back on the access road. I must admit the hike on the road back to our car felt a bit longer than when we began and my foot ached slightly. But I was happy to discover I had made the entire hike around Knight’s Pond and it was a serene, beautiful afternoon.

It has, indeed, been ages since I enjoyed a hike and getting back into the woods was as joyous an experience as I remembered. Knight’s Pond is an easy hike of about two miles and can be done in an afternoon. The reason it takes longer than one might expect is the lure of that beautiful pond. It means the hiker must stop and take photos, maybe chat with others on the trail, and definitely sit quietly to take in all Mother Nature offers at Knight’s Pond. 

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