I set off for a quick afternoon hike, eager to get outdoors and stretch my legs, but with limited time available. I was driving the back roads through the forested lands on the east side of Hanover, NH, and was surprised to see a trailhead icon appearing on my car’s navigation map. I decided to change plans and investigate this trailhead – one that is relatively new, and certainly new to me. I learned, on arriving at the cheery trailhead kiosk, that it feeds two short trail loops on the western slopes of Moose Mountain – allowing one to enjoy the conservation lands of Mayor-Niles Forest and Britton Forest.
Today I went out with a friend for a short hike in the hills on the eastern side of Hanover. It was a warm afternoon, but we were surprised to see an inch of fresh snow on the leaf-covered forest floor, with melting snow dripping from the fir trees overhead. It rained hard here last night – down along the Connecticut River – but only a few hundred feet higher it had apparently snowed.
It was nonetheless a lovely hike through the forest along a set of trails managed by the Hanover Conservancy, culminating in a series of rocky overlooks on the ledges of the ridge that extends south from Moose Mountain.
We wore bright-orange vests, because this weekend is the first big weekend of deer season, and we could frequently hear the report of rifle shots in the valley to the east. The sight of snow – as much as an inch of heavy, wet snow in some areas – reminds me of how quickly winter is coming.
Hike stats: Distance: 3.94km Time: 1h12m Map: see red route below. (The green route refers to my prior visit)
It was another pleasant fall day, with moderate temperatures and intermittent sunshine. I took the opportunity to hike with an old friend, Lelia, and to visit another old friend – the Appalachian Trail on the north side of Moose Mountain.
I remember spending many chilly afternoons in the fall of 1982, scrambling through the Hanover forest with other eager first-year undergraduate students, clearing a new route for the Trail on the steep slopes of Moose Mountain. I learned to fell trees, build sidehill cribbing, and build rock steps from huge boulders using nothing but rock bars, strong arms, and the seemingly limitless enthusiasm of 18-year olds. We were pleased to those steps have held up after nearly 40 years and thousands of thru-hikers.
Somehow we never got around to our annual late-August family backpacking trip. I was determined to get out, anyway, so we took two short trips. On September 30, Andy and John and I headed directly from school to a trailhead on the west side of Moose Mountain. We hiked up to reach the A.T. where it crosses a col between north and south peak, then pulled into the shelter just as it got dark and began to rain. We poked around in the dark looking for the water supply, and settled in just as a huge thunderstorm struck. Nothing like being in an open shelter, on a ridgeline, in a thunderstorm! We had to leave the next morning, skipping our second night out, because John was feeling ill.
Two weeks later, Andy and Mara and I headed for Holts Ledge, hiking up to Trapper John shelter late on Saturday afternoon, with just enough daylight to explore a bit and then settle in. It rained overnight, but the next morning we were able to climb up to Holts Ledge for a view of the fall colors.
I had only my iPhone, and limited light, but took some photos.
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