Sunday, April 16, 2017

Milan Hill Fire Tower (1720 Feet)

Milan Hill fire tower
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Milan
DESTINATION: Milan Hill Fire tower
ELEVATION: 1720 Feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 34.339, W71 13.391
TRAIL: Road Walk to XC ski trails
DISTANCE: 0.41 miles one way
ELEVATION GAIN: 190 feet
HIKING TIME: 30 minutes
SEASON: early spring
DATE: April 14, 2017
WEATHER: 45 degrees, clear skies

PARKING: 72 Fire Tower Road, Milan NH 03588.

From Berlin take route 16 north approximatley 10 miles to route 110B in Milan and look for the Milan Hill State Park sign on your left. Parking can be found at the gated entrance, if the gate is open drive a short 0.13 miles to the Nansen XC ski club parking lot with warming hut.

USGS QUAD: USGS Milan Quad

MAP: (Nansen Ski Club Map) (Milan Hill USGS Map)


DESCRIPTION:

The State park and campground typically open in May and the road was gated during my visit.

I parked roadside near the gated entrance and walked the plowed tower road to the Nansen XC Ski area parking lot. There is a warming hut and trail kiosk with trail maps available. The ski area is open to the public and accessible year round. Follow Pine Alley 0.1 miles to the junction with Hilltop. Continue on Hilltop for 0.12 miles and a junction with 3 other trails. From here the tower can be seen a few hundred feet away and is accessible via a short hiking trail.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
road walk - Nansen XC ski Parking 0.13 miles 0.13 miles
Pine Alley - Hilltop 0.10 miles 0.23 miles
Hilltop - 4 way junction 0.12 miles 0.35 miles
4 way junction - Firetower 0.06 miles 0.41 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
parking - Fire tower 20 minutes 20 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Milan Hill is one of the few standing and active fire towers in the state. It's a short hike to incredible views and definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. The state park is always open for recreational use and XC ski area is maintained by the Nansen Ski club, open to the public and welcomes hikers on the property.

The tower is marked with a benchmark disk (look under the right side steps) and has 4 smaller cement pilings inside the tower mount footings. Climbing the stairs to the lookout platform offers unique and spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area including Mt. Washington, the Mahoosuc range and into Maine, Westerly views of the Percy peaks, Nash Stream area and into Vermont as well as northerly views into Canada. The views are worth the minimal effort required to hike the summit.

More information about camping at Milan Hill State Park can be found on the NH State Parks Website

More information about the Nansen ski club can be found on the Nansen Ski Club website

Approaching Milan Hill 

Views east towards the Mahoosuc range and Maine

Views south towards Mt. Washington

Views north into Canada

Views west towards the Percy Peaks and Vermont

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Terrace Mountain (3655 feet)

View of Mt. Weeks from the Terrace summit
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Kilkenny
DESTINATION: Terrace Mountain
ELEVATION: 3655 Feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 28.637, W71 23.719
TRAIL: Bunnell Notch Trail, Kilkenny Ridge trail
DISTANCE: 4.9 miles one way
ELEVATION GAIN: 2155 Feet
HIKING TIME: 4 hours 30 minutes
SEASON: Early spring
DATE: April 14, 2017
WEATHER: 45 degrees, clear skies


PARKING: Parking can be found at the end of York Pond Rd past the Berlin Fish hatchery. This area is gated and posted open from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM however I arrived shortly after 7 AM and found the gate opened and buried in snow. It appears the gate hasn't been moved in a long time. The trailhead is clearly marked and contains room for 4 to 5 cars. There is ample overflow parking roadside.

Driving time from Manchester is approximately 2 hours 45 minutes

USGS QUAD: USGS Jefferson quad

MAP: (Terrace)


DESCRIPTION: Follow the Bunnell Trail 0.2 miles to the merge and departure of the York Pond trail. Continue on the Bunnell trail (right) as it descends and crosses minor streams that should be rock hoppable in most conditions. After approximately 1 mile and 25 minutes of hiking the Bunnell trail departs the logging road at a signed junction. From here the trail begins it's ascent paralleling the West Branch of the Upper Ammonoosuc River. There are dozens of minor tributaries flowing into the main corridor which makes the Bunnell trail muddy and keeping your feet dry will be moderately challenging. The trail is one of the main corridors to access Mt. Cabot and although poorly marked and blazed, foot travel makes the main trail relatively easy to follow. After 3.0 miles you reach the Bunnell notch height of land and the junction of the Kilkenny Ridge trail.

The Kilkenny Ridge trail departs left and is poorly marked with faded mustard colored blazes. With snow on the ground I struggled to follow the Kilkenny Ridge trail and found I followed trail for 100 yards then would lose it for anywhere from 20 to 200 feet before finding the corridor or cut tree branches and recognized trail. A short ascent takes you over the signed North Terrace summit then descends the col before gradually ascending Middle Terrace. The summit is a short distance off trail but easily attainable and recognizable. There are no markings on the Middle terrace summit. Descend the col and begin the ascent up Terrace proper. After 1.9 miles you reach a sign junction and 0.1 mile spur trail to the 3655 foot Terrace summit. The summit is not marked and offers directional views towards the Weeks to the south and Cabot to the north.

To make a nice loop descend 1.1 miles to the York Pond Trail. Follow the York Pond trail 2.4 miles to the junction with the Bunnell trail mentioned above and a short 0.2 mile stint back to parking.

Due to the poorly marked trails and lack of recent visitors I had concerns of potential trail breaking for approximately 3.5 miles and I chose to return by retracing my steps and descending the Bunnell Trail. Distance was slightly longer however following my tracks in the snow and the broken out Bunnell Trail was too tempting to resist.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Bunnell Notch Trail - Kilkenny Ridge trail junction 3.0 miles 3.0 miles
Kilkenny Ridge Trail - North Terrace Summit 0.6 miles 3.6 miles
North Terrace Summit - Middle Terrace 0.5 miles 4.1 miles
Middle Terrace - Terrace Mountain spur 0.7 miles 4.8 miles
Terrace Mountain Spur - Terrace Summit 0.1 miles 4.9 miles
Terrace Summit - Kilkenny Ridge trail junciton 0.1 miles 5.0 miles
Kilkenny Ridge Trail - Bunnell Trail Junction 1.8 miles 6.8 miles
Bunnell Trail - Parking 3.0 miles 9.8 miles

HIKING TIMES:


HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Bunnell Notch Trail - Kilkenny Ridge trail junction 1 hour 25 minutes 1 hour 25 minutes
Kilkenny Ridge Trail - North Terrace Summit 25 minutes 1 hour 50 minutes
North Terrace Summit - Middle Terrace 15 minutes 2 hours 5 minutes
Middle Terrace - Terrace Mountain spur 15 minutes 2 hours 20 minutes
Terrace Mountain Spur - Terrace Summit 5 minutes 2 hours 25 minutes
Terrace Summit - Kilkenny Ridge trail junciton 5 minutes 2 hours 30 minutes
Kilkenny Ridge Trail - Bunnell Trail Junction 45 minutes 3 hours 15 minutes
Bunnell Trail - Parking 1 hour 5 minutes4 hours 20 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

At 3655 Feet Terrace Mountain is ranked #79 on the list of New Hampshire 100 highest mountains. It is also #79 on the YMCA Alpine club list. North Terrace is marked with a summit sign on the Kilkenny Ridge trail. There are no views. According to the White Mountain Guide North Terrace mountain contains a small clearing intended for helicopter landings. I was unable to locate the clearing however it wasn't the purpose of my visit and I didn't look very hard.

Middle Terrace is a obvious bump in the trail however not prominent enough to be counted on any lists. There are reduced views due to tree growth from it's summit.

Terrace Mountain has a col depth over 500 feet and reached bu a 0.1 mile spur trail. The summit is not marked but the obvious high-point offers limited directional views to the North and south.
Bunnell Trail head on York Pond Road
Terrace mountain from Bunnell trail


Mt. Cabot through white birch trees

Directional view of the Horn


Monday, April 10, 2017

Mt. Roberts (2582 Feet), Mountain View (2782 Feet), Faraway Mountain (2730 Feet)

Mt. Roberts Summit
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Moultonborough
DESTINATION: Mt. Roberts, Faraway Mountain
ELEVATION: 2582 feet, 2782 feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Mt. Roberts - N43 45.394, W71 19.556
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Mountain View - N43 45.690, W71 18.682
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Faraway Mountain - N43 45.405, W71 18.646
TRAIL: Mt. Roberts trail, High ridge Trail, Faraway spur, High Ridge Trail, Faraway mountain Trail, Road walk
DISTANCE: 9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1650 Feet
HIKING TIME: 3 hours 45 minutes
SEASON: Early Spring
DATE: April 8, 2017
WEATHER: 35 degrees, clear

PARKING: From NH 25 in Moultonborough turn onto Route 109 following it for 2.25 miles to the Y junction with route 171. Continue straight on route 171 another 0.5 mile turning onto Ossipee Park road. Drive up Ossipee Park Road past the stone house entrance to the hiker parking area with trail kiosk on the right.

Approximately 90 minutes drive time from Manchester.

Map kiosk at parking area
Mt. Roberts trailhead behind horse barn











USGS QUAD: USGS Tamworth Quad - Summits, USGS Melvin Village Quad - Trailhead


MAP: (Faraway Mountain Map)


In addition to the USGS Maps a hiker known as "Trail Bandit" has created a detailed Ossipee Map of the surrounding peaks and trails.

DESCRIPTION:

Follow the road adjacent to the trail kiosk through the gates toward Shannon pond. Continue up the hill toward the horse barn and follow signs leading to the Mt. Roberts trail which begins behind the fence. The trail is well marked with orange diamonds at regular intervals and begins along a wide carriage road before returning to the field follows the fence perimeter a short distance before turning right into the woods. Use caution at this junction as the trail is not signed and one could easily continue straight along the fence border. The Mt. Roberts trail ascends a knoll then levels off through hardwoods before reaching a rocky steep section. As you ascend, a short spur trail marked 'outlook' leads a short distance to the west and offers great views of Red Hill, Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap range including Gunstock Mountain ski area to the south. Both Red Hill and Belknap Mountain have fire towers on their summits. Once you've caught your breath the Mt. Roberts trail continues up a short steep section before the incline becomes more gradual over rocky ledge terrain. The last mile of trail ascends several open ridges with spectacular views in the southern and easterly directions towards the lakes and the highest point in the Ossipee range, 2990 foot Shaw mountain. After 2.4 miles and approximately 1 hour of hiking the Mt. Roberts summit is attained. The summit is marked with a sign and Faraway mountain is looming in the background. Return the way you came or continue along the High Ridge making a 11 mile scenic loop to Faraway mountain.

At the Mt. Roberts summit the High Ridge trail marked with blue diamonds descends to the north and follows a wide carriage road along the ridge. The carriage road was lined with very old grey birch trees providing the feeling of going back in time a hundred years. Look for signs of moose as you follow the carriage road 1.3 miles to the Faraway mountain spur trail. The spur trail is not marked but the a ATV path leading to the left and chain gate is fairly obvious to spot.

Chain marking the entrance to the Faraway mountain spur trail

Follow the spur trail 0.25 miles to the 2783 "Mountain View" summit. The summit contains some man-made cell towers bringing you back to the 21st century. There seems to be conflicting information on the nomenclature of these peaks as well as discrepancies on various map sources adding to the confusion. In this report "Mountain View" is considered the 2792 foot peak marked with the red pointer on the map below. Faraway mountain is the closer peak containing two summit bumps at 2730 feet elevation. It appears the southeastern bump may be a few feet higher than the northwestern bump marked with the blue pointer. I couldn't find the dotted trail leading over the 2730 Faraway Mountain summit bumps and chose to bushwhack to these summits from the High Ridge trail.

Mt. Roberts, Faraway and 'Mountain View' summit points
Once back on the High Ridge Trail the carriage road leads past a spectacular outlook offering 180 degree views to the south then gradually descends 1.2 miles to the junction of the Faraway Mountain trail marked with orange diamonds. From here it's a long 4.5 miles following the Faraway Mountain trail to the Cold Spring trail carriage roads that gradually descend switchback after switchback after switchback. These may be great for a horse and buggy but make for frustratingly tedious long walking conditions. You'll eventually pass the cellar hole of the Roberts homestead and the junction of Cold Springs Road. A 0.5 mile road walk will lead you back to Shannon Pond.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Mt. Roberts trail - Outlook 1.0 miles 1.0 miles
Outlook - Mt. Roberts Summit 1.4 miles 2.4 miles
High Ridge Trail - Faraway Spur Trail 1.32 miles 3.72 miles
Faraway Spur Trail - Mountain View Trail 0.2 miles 3.92 miles
Faraway Spur Trail - High Ridge Trail 0.2 miles 4.12 miles
High Ridge Trail - Faraway Summit bumps 0.10 miles 4.22 miles
Faraway Summit Bumps - High Ridge Trail 0.08 miles 4.30 miles
High Ridge Trail - Faraway Mountain Junction 1.18 miles 5.48 miles
Faraway Mountain Trail - Cold Springs Trail 1.72 miles 7.20 miles
Cold Springs Trail - Cold Springs Road 1.25 miles 8.45 miles
Cold Springs Road - Parking 0.54 miles 9.0 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Mt. Roberts trail - Outlook 35 minutes 35 minutes
Outlook - Mt. Roberts Summit 1 hour 5 minutes 1 hour 40 minutes
High Ridge Trail - Faraway Spur Trail 30 minutes 2 hours 10 minutes
Faraway Spur Trail - Mountain View Trail 10 minutes 2 hours 20 minutes
Faraway Spur Trail - High Ridge Trail 10 minutes 2 hours 30 minutes
High Ridge Trail - Faraway Summit bumps 5 minutes 2 hours 35 minutes
Faraway Summit Bumps - High Ridge Trail 5 minutes 2 hours 40 minutes
High Ridge Trail - Faraway Mountain Junction 20 minutes 3 hours
Faraway Mountain Trail - Cold Springs Trail 20 minutes 3 hours 20 minutes
Cold Springs Trail - Cold Springs Road 15 minutes 3 hours 35 minutes
Cold Springs Road - Parking 10 minutes 3 hours 45 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

The lakes Region Conservation Trust offers a patch to anyone who has hiked 30 miles along 19 trails (not all at once) over 5 summits within their property. Anyone interested in this challenge can find more information on the LRCT website. Mt. Roberts is ranked #48 on the New Hampshire 52 With a View list and worth the visit alone. For a longer adventure I'd recommend continuing along the ridge to Faraway mountain and a loop back to the parking area. Both Mt. Roberts and Faraway Mountain are on the Ossipee 10 list of 10 notable peaks in the Ossipee range.

This trail system is popular but an early start may provide the opportunity to spot some of the wildlife in the region. I was able to spot several different tracks in the snow such as skunk, deer, pine martin, moose and turkey.

Mt. Roberts is marked with a summit sign. Due to snow cover I was unable to search for any benchmarks. Mountain View has several man-made structures along with cell towers on its summit. and I was unable to locate any signage or markings on either of the two faraway summit bumps.

The cellar hole of Isaac Roberts former homestead can be found by following Cold Springs Road for 0.54 miles then turning right for a short distance on the Cold Springs trail. The homestead was built in the early 1800's and all that remains are a cellar hole.  Look for apple trees surrounding the area. The cellar hole is marked with a LRCT sign and describes details of the Roberts homestead history.  For the GPS friendly coordinates are N43 44.415, W71 19.085.

Red Hill from the Mt. Roberts overlook

Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap range

"Mountain View" summit
Isaac Roberts homestead cellarhole