Enjoy the Foliage on a Fall Hike!
By Sarah Wright
The foliage season is finally upon us, and there are beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red starting to pop up all around the Lakes Region. It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy a hike, with comfortable temperatures, and amazing views of the colorful leaves all around us. I enjoy hiking, what with two active boys of my own, but I consider myself a “recreational” hiker. I’m not looking for a strenuous workout—just a way to connect with nature and enjoy its beauty. There are so many great options in this area, but here are a couple of fall hikes that I’ve already checked off my list this year.
Lockes Hill in Gilford is a favorite hike for my family. Down the road from Mount Major on Route 11, the views are similar (although at a lower elevation). It’s also a shorter loop trail at about 1.8 miles long. A small sign on the side of the road will indicate where the parking area is located. It’s not a busy trail, so parking shouldn’t be difficult. The last time we went, we noticed some locals walking their dogs, but we had the trail to ourselves for most of the hike.
There are two trails to the top—the Quarry Trail and the Lakeview Trail. We usually take the Quarry Trail for the hike up. The trail is clearly marked, and there are signs posted along the way with nature facts about trees and animals. It’s a great way for kids to learn as they hike, and it gives them something to keep them occupied. The Quarry Trail runs along a small stream for part of the way, and by a still pond. It’s also the longer side of the loop, and rockier, so if you have younger children, you may want to choose the Lakeview Trail to the summit and then go back down that same way. My kids don’t have a problem on the Quarry Trail, but it’s definitely the longer way up.
There is quite a bit to explore once you reach the summit. The views of Lake Winnipesaukee are beautiful, and there’s even a viewfinder that kids can look through to see the islands close up. In the summer, there are wild blueberries to snack on. On the way down the Lakeview Trail side, you’ll find another viewpoint, with large rock “chairs” created by hikers years ago. It certainly takes the idea of rock cairns to a whole new level! The trail then winds its way back and forth, zig-zagging down to the parking lot. Lockes Hill is definitely a fun time.
Copple Crown Mountain in Brookfield (near Wolfeboro), is another great hike, with wonderful views of Southern New Hampshire from the clifftop outlook of the East Peak and partially obstructed views of the Belknap Mountains, the Ossipee Range, and the Lakes Region from the summit. I prefer the East Peak, with its endless rolling hills and mountains that spread out below you from the cliff and seem to go on forever. I could honestly admire that view for hours! The trail is about 2.5 miles altogether, and if leaves are wet on the ground, watch your footing. It’s a great hike, and one that certainly isn’t crowded. When we go, we might see one or two other hikers along the way, so it’s very peaceful. To get to the trailhead, follow Route 109 west from Wakefield for about a mile before turning left onto Governor’s Road. Then turn right on Moose Mountain Road, and after about 1.5 miles, the pavement will end. Shortly after that, you’ll find a sign for the Ellis R. Hatch Wildlife Management Area, and a small parking lot. Bring some water and a snack to enjoy at the top!
This year, I’ve added a new hike to our list that we’ll try this month, and that’s West Rattlesnake Mountain, in Holderness. A popular destination, it’s a two-mile hike with a fairly easy incline that leads to a rocky outcropping with spectacular views of Squam Lake. It’s also one of the shortest hikes in the state that offers an amazing view, which is another reason that it’s so appealing. I’ve seen lots of views of Lake Winnipesaukee, but I can’t wait to take this hike and see the beautiful fall colors around Squam Lake! To get there, take Route 113 to the Old Bridle Path in Holderness. Don’t forget to bring your camera.
This past summer, I hiked the Falls of Song waterfall trail at Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, and I bought a map so I could return to experience some of the other wonderful trails on the property. Now that fall has arrived, I’m planning to hike the Bald Knob trail, and can’t wait to see the foliage from the summit!
Now, before you set out for a hike on a beautiful fall day, it’s important to keep safety in mind, especially with fluctuating fall temperatures. According to www.hikesafe.com, there is a Hiker Responsibility Code, which was developed and endorsed by The White Mountain National Forest and New Hampshire Fish and Game. The code is also posted at all major trailheads in New Hampshire. It includes the following safety guidelines:
Be prepared with appropriate knowledge and gear. Learn about the terrain and weather conditions for where you are going. Know how to use your gear.
Let someone else know your plans. Tell a friend what trails you will be hiking on and when you expect to return.
Hiking groups should stick together, and not let anyone become separated. Pace your hike to the slowest person in the group.
Hikers should always be ready to turn back if circumstances, such as changing weather, dictate. Know your limitations and be willing to turn back. You can always try again another day.
Hikers should be ready for emergencies. Even on an hour-long hike, accidents can happen. Don’t expect to be rescued. Learn how you can help rescue yourself.
Most people think to wear sturdy shoes and bring a water bottle, but there are 10 hiking essentials recommended by The NH Fish and Game Department. These include a map; a compass; clothing layers, including a hat; extra food and water; a flashlight or headlamp; matches/fire starters; first aid kit/repair kit; a whistle to call for help; a rain/wind jacket and pants; and a pocket knife. You’ll be able to relax and enjoy your nature outing, knowing that you’re prepared. Happy hiking and leaf peeping!