Trail Running Like a Local in New Hampshire’s Grand North

Trail Running Blog
Photo Credit: Joe Klementovich

As a local runner, I’m often asked about good running routes or trails.  I have a variety of favorite running sequences that mostly fulfill mileage goals set by a predetermined training schedule.  Mornings are easy.  I lace up my sneakers, walk out my front door, start my GPS watch, and run.  These routes are not publically signed or considered part of a local asset; they are simply a selection of roads and loops that are available to anyone, but unknown to most.  I have come to realize that this area is really just open to whatever your days’ goals are.  It’s not necessary to seek designated running areas to find flow and ease of travel.  Any runner is able to start from any place, and come away with a special experience without much premeditation.

With this said, there are a few public trails that are worth noting, and should be at the top of your must-run list.  Here they are:

  • Monadnock Mountain, Lemington, VT:  This is a hiking trail that summits Monadnock Mountain (not southern, NH — think Northeast Kingdom).  This trail is approximately 2.25 miles to the peak with 2,075 feet of elevation gain.  Your reward for running this well-maintained, rocky trail to the top is a fire tower view, which provides 360 degree display of the Connecticut River valley, the bordering states of New Hampshire and Maine, and points north into Canada.  The trail head is located in a gravel pit just north of the Bridge Street Bridge, on VT Route 102.
  • The Rail Trail, Colebrook, NH:  The rail trail is a reclaimed rail bed that may be accessed from multiple points along Route 3 traveling north from Colebrook.  Its starting point is located just off Bridge Street near the River Walk, with eight miles of trail stretching from Colebrook to West Stewartstown.  While this gravel trail wins points for accessibility and its appropriateness for all ability levels, it is shared with all modes of recreation, and the lack of variety can make this flat course a bit uninteresting.  The bright spot of this trail is the river valley feel, and the farming roads that spur off into the fields and other areas.
  • The Cohos Trail, Stewartstown, NH:  This section of Cohos trail is perfect for off-the grid trail running.  Escape into the woods and experience a variety of grassy and gravel terrain that will challenge you with a subtle ascent of just over 800 feet.  Starting at campsite 11 at Coleman State Park, follow the mowed trail and the yellow hash marks along the Cohos Trail, which merges with the snowmobile trail.  This trail connects with Rusty’s Road, at which point you will take a right where the grassy trail intersects with the well-worn ATV trail.  Descend Rusty’s Road, and turn right at the pavement onto Diamond Pond Road, bringing you back to Coleman State Park.
  • Table Rock and Sanguinary Ridge Trail, Dixville Notch, NH:  Table Rock is an iconic hiking location and is well-known to many.  In my opinion, the real magic happens when you ascend Table Rock by accessing the short, steep scramble that starts just east of the Balsams Resort entrance (trailhead is signed).  After testing your mental fortitude by walking out on the ledge and taking in the notch view from Table Rock, continue to Three Brother’s Trail along the Cohos Trail.  This gradual descent showcases waterfalls, shear ledges, and mossy terrain.  Once you’ve arrived at the Dixville Wayside State Park, look for the cemetery of the early settlers.  Here you will see markings for the Cohos Trail that will lead you across Route 26 to the Sanguinary Ridge Trail where you will start a second climb.  There will be a number of lookouts along the way, and the real treat is the shale covered face that transports you from the wilderness experience to something completely different.  Sanguinary Ridge Trail will bring you back to the hotel entrance, where you started.

~ Contributed by Bridget C.G. Freudenberger

Mountain Biking Like a Local in the North Country

Mountain Biking

The Whites are well known for summer hiking. But sometimes it’s nice to step out of line and trade in your hiking boots, pump some adrenaline, and ride. Mountain biking is still fairly new in the North Country, which means the trails are generally quiet, even on peak weekends.

PRKR Mountain TrailsParker Mountain Trails, known as PRKR MTN, serves up 22-miles of consistently challenging riding. A hand-built network in Littleton, NH, PRKR MTN trails will leave you sweaty, humble, and drenched in accomplishment. Every time I step away from PRKR my legs (and ego) are lined with bruises, yet my heart screams bring it on! Each ride makes me more technically proficient, and the view from Linda’s Lookout is worth every inch of the climb. PRKR is also working to expand its beginner network, and has a new pump track that’s a fun challenge for the whole family. The Littleton Bike Shop is right down the street, and no ride is complete without a visit to Schilling Beer Company, the brewery that put Littleton on the map.

Mountain Biking in Bethlehem

New to the mountain biking scene this year is Bethlehem Trails Association (BTA), just next door to PRKR MTN. While BTA is less than a year old, it’s already in the process of developing and mapping a few trails for the 2018 season. BTA intends to offer a bit of everything from double track with mountain views to entice beginners and families to single track switchbacks weaving up and around the many mountain peaks central to downtown. With Rek’-lis Brewing Company, the Colonial Theatre, and a number of local shops and restaurants right in BTA’s backyard, Bethlehem will soon be a fantastic place to ride, sip craft beer, and fill up on dinner and live music without having to so much as move your car from its parking spot!

Last, but certainly not least, no mountain biking tour of the northeast would be complete without a trip to Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT. Kingdom is where the crowds are, but they gather for a reason. Downhill flow trails like Kitchel and Troll Stroll leave you giddy like a child hopped up on birthday cake, and the ridgelines looking out over layers of rolling farmland make every ascent (even the one up Darling Hill) worth the tears. Set aside time to soak in the view from Heaven’s Bench, and be sure to kick back post-ride at Mike’s Tiki Bar with nourishment from neighboring food trucks.

The North Country isn’t just for hiking anymore! See you on the trails!

Mountain Biking

-Kelly McCann

North Country transplant and BTA board member

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

The Mount Washington Cog RailwayThe majesty and allure of Mount Washington hovers in the distance like a carrot on a rope. Being the tallest peak in the northeast, I know that getting to the summit of the mountain would offer amazing views for any family or visitor that would leave them saying “wow!”.

Of course, being able to Explore Mount Washington in a way for the entire family to enjoy and appreciate presents a list of different experiences and opportunities to take in the beautiful views, enjoy the wildlife and really get a experience and memorable journey to heights that offer supreme viewing angles of up to 5 states and into Canada!

A HISTORIC VOYAGE TO THE MOON

Topping the list is the premiere way to visit and experience Mount Washington; the Mount Washington Cog Railway. A three hour roundtrip to the top and back on a beautiful steam or biodiesel train all the while having a guided narration? Count us in! And of course it’s entirely stress free and you can really take the vistas and surroundings in and not have to worry about anything else!

The Mount Washington Cog Railway starts at Marshfield Station in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Enclosed in Marshfield Station is a free interactive museum about the history of the Mount Washington Cog Railway and a great gift shop offering the perfect souvenirs to remember the visit by; even if you don’t ride the train!

The Mount Washington Cog Railway offers two types of locomotives to bring you to the summit of Mount Washington. Take a ride in the historic steam locomotives and feel like you’ve been teleported right back to the late 1800s! The smell of the coal and the chugging of the train will make anyone feel like they’re taking the first steps in exploring Mount Washington and being a part of living history!

Also available are the modern, eco-friendly & high-tech biodiesel locomotives. Offering a faster and cleaner way to the summit, these John Deere powered locomotives show that the future and the past can combine to create an experience that will dazzle everyone of all ages!

Voyaging to the summit of Mount Washington by train is an amazing experience in itself also; taking approximately one hour to reach the summit, you’ll experience views and sights all along the way to the top, all the while, a brakeman offers an educational and exciting narration to make sure you won’t miss a single thing!

Once you’re at the summit of Mount Washington you can enjoy the various exhibits and gift shops along with the fascinating weather and ecosystem that Mount Washington itself presents to its guests! There’s even a post office that you can send a postcard out of that has a unique postmark showing it’s point of departure!

A FORESTS STROLL

The other option to ascend Mount Washington, either in full or even for a nice stroll in the woods, is the myriad of hiking options available on Mount Washington. The Jewell Trail and the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail offer sights to behold to explorers willing to ascend up Mount Washington. Averaging around 6 hours one way, the trails wind and curve throughout beautiful lush forests and waterfalls graze the trails reminding one of like a hidden jewel in the forest.

The hikes are extremely difficult and require full preparedness to make it up to the summit, but day trippers or folks who want to even just take a quick jaunt up the trails to see some of the sights can have an everlasting impression and a thirst for more sights offered right off the beaten path in the White Mountain National Forest! The Jewell Trail, which is the easier of the two, is a great entry trail for hiking Mount Washington and picks up right at the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Coming in at 5.1 miles, the beginning of the trail offers rest spots with scenic views, rushing streams of water and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife! But make sure you’re prepared!

If you’re a seasoned hiker looking for your next challenge, then Mount Washington is the perfect mountain for your New Hampshire voyages. The highest peak in the northeast, the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is 4.5 miles to the summit with a fairly easy grade for the first 2 miles before ramping up. But the reward for this daunting hike is worth it with many waterfalls and scenic overlooks of the Presidential Mountain Range of New Hampshire. A one-way trip is also offered to seasoned hikers who wish to either hike up or down the mountain and take a train ride right back to the parking lots. The best of both worlds!

Parking and trailheads are located on the east side of Mount Washington right at Marshfield Station at the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Before you enjoy your hike either up the Jewell or the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trails you can enjoy a nice breakfast bite at Peppersass Restaurant, get trail maps and essentials supplies at the Gift Shop or even enjoy the busy train operations. From there you can get right onto the two main hiking trails and start your exploration.

No matter which method you choose to Explore Mount Washington, you are guaranteed an experience of a lifetime. In the words of Dr. Suess, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

From the Eyes of an 18 Year Old Local

By Shamus McKim, NH Grand Intern, 2017-18
Age: 18

Many people come here to hike, ski, explore and try their best to see and do things they haven’t experienced. Possibly because their city life is lacking it, or maybe because they’ve heard the many stories and tales of what you can do up here. Whatever it may be, if you live in New England you’ve most likely heard of the North Country. You’ve probably heard the reviews
of the area and how awesome it was to hike up Artist Bluff and see the beautiful notch, or that the climbing was exceptional, or even that Cannon Mountain had a blue bird day for once! But rather than listen to the words from someone who had a weekend excursion of the area, take it from me. A local.

Franconia NotchI’ve lived in Franconia, New Hampshire on and off over my lifetime (which is a whopping 18 years), and I’ve explored basically every corner of the globe from a place way down under in Auckland, New Zealand, to the smog stricken streets of Santiago, Chile. From the cobblestone walkways of Geneva, Switzerland, to the pointy mountain tops of Vail, Colorado. As fortunate as I have been to explore all these places, one might ask: why do I choose to stay here in this windy, vortex of a place? Well the first reason is that I can’t afford to live elsewhere, I’m a senior in high school, and I live with my parents. But outside the obvious, there’s just something about the place. The notch (Franconia State Park/Franconia Notch), has instilled a load of character into basically every person within a ten mile radius. It can be scary, it can be crazy, but it also can be beautiful, and you’ll find that it’s this way more than not. Franconia will give you a taste of what mother nature really can do, and it’s satisfying. It’s ultimately the world showing how inferior you are to it. It will make you feel short. It will make you feel vulnerable. It will make you feel like the minuscule life form that you are. But this is refreshing. It’s good for you! You need to be broken out of your bubble. You need to hike Lafayette and see the giant rolling mountain cascade into the distance. You need to walk through the giant waterfall crack in the flume. You need to ski Cannon top to bottom in -20 degree weather with wind blowing you up the hill.

Franconia NotchThese are the things that help you build character. They make you more appreciative of what the world has to provide. It makes you realize how important these things are in life, and most important of all, it makes you a better, more receptive, and tougher person. As it may seem that I’m making Franconia seem a somewhat hell hole of a place, which it is occasionally, it’s actually quite extraordinary and exceptional. From the mountain top of Cannon, to the naturally carved rocks of the basin, Franconia has it all. Just a 30-minute drive and you’ve got yourself one of the nicest hotels in the East at the one and only Mount Washington. You’ve got the ever so renowned Tuckerman’s Ravine, Kinsman Notch, beautiful Upper Falls, and the good old Cog Railway. There’s much to be had here for an outdoor enthusiast, especially that of a climber, skier, and overall adventure seeker.

Summit of Mount Washington For myself, I seem to be a jack of all trades. I’ve found myself climbing almost everyday at Tamarack Tennis Camp, bouldering the Notch pull offs, skiing throughout the entirety of this forever lasting winter, cliff jumping the area’s many roadside holes, and endlessly hiking the mountains just outside my door. It definitely suffices for someone who can’t stand still. Because of these many attributes I find myself never bored. Like ever. I like to pride myself in being an artistic person in the photography and videography sense. The North Country provides a boundless amount of picturesque sunsets, landscapes, wildlife, and much more. You have to be incredibly unwilling to go places and do something somewhat athletic to not be able to capture a new photo or video daily.

As I sit here today typing out a blog post, I see another beautiful suave sunset cascading over downtown shooting an orange and pink screen across the mountain range behind me and I see why I love this place so much. I see why I am always occupied. I see why I always miss this place when I’m away. That is why I love the notch. That is why I love to live here.

Discover the Upper Connecticut River

It was like a calling. Something from deep within.  You here about at the shows. You see the photos on online.  The Upper Connecticut Lakes and the headwaters of the 407 mile Connecticut River has a magical lore that draws you.   I always knew I would get there but for some reason, that box just wasn’t checked yet.  The fact is the Pittsburg, NH area needs to be on every flyfisherman’s bucket list.  The Upper Connecticut River along with the Connecticut Lakes, Back Lake and all the remote ponds is an amazing fishery so when that late season fishing bug hit me hard, that Pittsburg trip that hadn’t happened yet kept rolling around in my mind.  I took action and connected with Tom Caron of Tall Timber Lodge.  I had heard from several close friends that Tall Timber Lodge was a special place.  Located on gorgeous Back Lake, Tall Timber is a fantastic launching point for just about any outdoor activity you could ask for.  Best of all, it’s only a double haul cast away from the trophy section of the Upper Connecticut river.

It was just before dusk when I arrived at the Tall Timber Lodge.  The grounds were manicured while still maintaining the rustic look.  The lake was glass and the sunset spectacular just over the foliage covered hills.  I was eating a delicious meal in in the Rainbow Grille, the tavern style restaurant within Tall Timber Lodge, when my guide, Chuck Degray came over to welcome me.  We planned to meet in the lobby the next morning.  Like a kid waiting for Christmas, I could barely sleep.  Finally, I fell off and woke promptly without my alarm. I met Chuck in the lobby where he had a hot cup of coffee for me.   We watched a beautiful sunrise over the lake. With the fall trees painted in an array of autumn colors, a lite morning fog floated across the still water of Back Lake.  I had a sense a long dream was about to become a reality!

The River

The Upper Connecticut river begins at the boarder of Quebec and New Hampshire near Chartierville.  As you head south on 257 you go through US Customs and come to Third Connecticut Lake, the smallest of the “Connecticut Lakes”.  There are four lakes in the Upper Conneticut chain.  Third Connecticut, Second Connecticut, First Connecticut and Lake Francis.  Additionally, there’s Back Lake which is not part of the chain of lakes but since it geographically sits between Third Connecticut and Lake Francis it is often referred to in the same breath as the other Upper Connecticut Lakes. While many people enjoy fishing the lakes, the magic happens between the lakes in the river.

The Upper Connecticut River is considered one of the top fisheries in all the Northeast.  After two full days on the water, I now know why.  The “Trophy Stretch” is a fly-fishing only section of the river that starts at the outlet of First Connecticut Lake Dam and run 2.5 miles downstream to the inlet of Lake Francis.  It is filled with riffles and pools providing some of the finest trout and salmon water in the region.   There are 11 named pool along the Trophy Stretch.  From the picturesque Judge and Jury pool with the cascading waterfalls towards the top of the stretch to The Skating Rink Pool which is down river near Lake Francis.  Beyond the pools anywhere you find a seam, a ripple or a run, you have a chance to catch a fish of a lifetime.

Strategies & Techniques

Fortunately for me that was true twice that first day.  Chuck and I hit the first pool and things started a little slow.  Not for any other reasonbut I was sort of beating up the water.  I have always been more of a streamer/dryfly fisherman. I would occasionally swing wet flies or put a nymph dropper off a dry.  The fact is that those that know how to successfully fish nymphs seem to consistently have the best results and catch the biggest fish.  I have always wanted to advance my skills in this area so when Chuck said let’s start out with a two-nymph rig I was ecstatic.  We set up an 8’ leader tapered to 4X, fluorocarbon preferred, and we attached our first fly.  Chuck recommended a weighed top fly like a stonefly nymph or a bead head.  Below that we added about 8” of 5X fluorocarbon tippet and we tied one in a small sparkle pupa type nymph.  We added a couple split shots about 4” about the top fly and completed the set up with a strike indicator.  You want your strike indicator about 1.5X the water depth so you will need to move that around throughout the day based on the water depth of your pool.  You want you nymphs “ticking” along the bottom.  We didn’t catch anything out of that first pool but that was mostly on me because I was still getting use to this set up.   I would make a comeback though.

Since we had a recent soaking Chuck had an idea.  He said let’s head up to the inlet of 2ndConnecticut Lake as the recent rain could serve as just enough of a push of water to bring the salmon out of lake and  into the river.  We tied one of Chuck’s hand-tied personal favorites, a grey soft hackle streamer.  Feeling back in my element, I made a few casts, down and across with a swing and a strip and POW, I was in!  Feeling like this was a nice fish, I was being gentle.  Taking some line and giving some line.  It felt great to be hooked up but I knew wanted that photo so I was being careful.  I put the fish on the reel, angled him towards Chuck and he netted a beautiful Landlocked Salmon. BINGO BANGO is a term my brother and I coined after we land a nice fish and I certainly let out a hardy one after this fish hit the net.  As happy as I was, Chuck was clearly happier for me.  You see that 21” Salmon was my largest salmon I ever caught in New England.  We snapped a couple pictures and released him back to his pool.  Chuck’s “hunch” paid off and we landed a couple more before hitting our next spot.

We hit up some honey holes and found many cooperative Rainbows and Salmon.  As it was getting towards lunch, with a wonderful morning completed, I suggested we head back to the lodge to relax and have a quick bite.  Anytime I can eat and relax overlooking water and gorgeous water in this case, it fills me with great satisfaction.  Chuck was telling me about the monster Brown Trout they catch below a dam a bit further down river.  In passing I mentioned I have caught a lot of Brown Trout but never a real trophy.  With that information, Chuck said let’s head back out.

I wanted to get back on the nymph rig because I was starting to get the feel of it.  I was struck by the quality of this pools we were hitting. I was working a seem at the bottom of a “V” when the indicator disappeared.  I set the hook and said WHOA, we’re into something.  Then I saw that golden flash; this was unmistakably a Brown Trout and a big one!  This fish was darting everywhere.  Chuck was being so gracious to video tape the fight for me.   Since he was holding the GoPro I said hand me the net.  He said, “Are you sure?”.   With a laugh I said, yeah I got it.  Clearly, I didn’t because this fish was all over the pool and then took a left turn and dove for the next pool over.  I handed the net back to Chuck and he netted the biggest Brown Trout of my life, a 22” beautiful golden, fall Brown Trout.  BINGO – BANGO!  In one day I landed 2 of the nicest fish of my life.  I had been dreaming of this place for so long and my dreams were coming true.

The next day we chased and caught more Trout and Salmon.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to float the lower part of the river in a couple drift boats.  Chuck and I were join by Cindy and John Howe and we had a blast floating the river and catching beautiful trout. John Howe is a veteran guide of the area.  He is basically retired from guiding now but still loves to fish and share his wealth of knowledge on the area.  It was a privilege to fish with Cindy and John.  Plus when your nickname is “Old Man River”, you are sure to have a tale or two to share.  I capped the trip by catching one last fish, a Brook Trout, completing the grand slam.

Time of Year & Flies

Because the dams between the lakes are bottom feed, the river stays cool throughout the summer.  Spring time will bring smelt into the rivers from the lakes allowing a great time to hunt a trophy salmon. Summer time brings great dryfly fishing both on the upper stretch and the lower which is fantastic from a drift boat.  The Fall will bring the salmon back into the river to spawn leaving another chance to land a hard fighting salmon.

I found softhackle streamers in grey or olive to be the most productive streamer.  Under the nymph rig I had the most success with soft hackle, sparsely tied wet flies & beadhead caddis and mayfly nymphs in 16 & 18.  Please check your regulations for the areas you plan to fish. Some parts of the river are fly-fishing only and some parts are catch and release.

Tall Timber Lodge
609 Beach Rd.
Pittsburg, NH 03592
800-835-6343
www.talltimber.com
[email protected]

North Country Fly Shop & Guide Service
Chuck Degray
9 Mountain Ash Drive
Pittsburg, NH 03592
603-331-1459
www.facebook.com/northcountryflyshop

Gorham Through the Eyes of a Thru-Hiker

Gorham Through the Eyes of a Thru-Hiker

Posted by Jean Clarke

It was 2016 and my daughter, Mikayla aka Brightside, was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. As a thru-hiker mom, I had visited her in places like Hot Springs, North Carolina and Vernon, New Jersey. But, after five months, she was finally in New Hampshire and I was thrilled to be a drive away instead of a flight away.

So there I was on a beautiful August day, sitting in a beach chair reading a book at the Rattle River trailhead parking lot off Route 2 in Shelburne, NH. Trucks were flying by and it was easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is what thru-hiker moms do a lot of …. wait around, read books, chat with locals, check the weather, search for cell phone service. While I was there, I met a handful of thru-hikers – “Mary Poppins”; “Grey Beard”; “Granola” – but no one had seen or heard of “Brightside.” About a chapter into my book, my phone buzzed – and it was Brightside – “I’m in town.” “Okay, be there in 5,” I responded.

I drove back to Gorham and, sure enough, there she was at the ice cream stand right on the main drag that runs through town. She had another ice cream while I decided on my flavor. “How did you get here?” I questioned. “Oh, I got a ride with Paul from The Libby House Inn. That’s where I’m staying tonight and then he’ll give me and a bunch of other hikers a ride back.”
Ask any thru-hiker “What makes a great trail town? And you’ll get lots of different replies, but here are the basics:

  • Access – free rides from friendly business owners, trail angels, tourists and locals.
  • Wifi – Coffee shops or restaurants with free wifi and generous mugs of coffee.
  • Buffets – all-you-can-eat and then some for hungry hikers who’ve been living on freeze dried and oatmeal.
  • Services – Laundromats, a post office, stores for resupply options.
  • Accommodations: Hostels and overnight lodging for folks on a budget. A roof, hot running water, and a bed mean a lot when you’ve been living in a tent.

The town of Gorham does all that and so much more!

Most recently, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy named Gorham an Appalachian Trail Community. This official designation means that it’s recognized as a community that promotes and protects the Appalachian Trail. Gorham, together with Hanover, are the only NH towns listed as AT Communities. What does it take to become an AT Community? It takes volunteers, businesses owners and town officials working together to agree upon a plan and complete the paperwork. It’s a lengthy process, but each community hopes that the pay-off will bring in, not only thru-hikers, but those who support them and the dollars spent at hotels, restaurants, bars and convenience stores. This summer Gorham plans to hang a banner welcoming thru-hikers and an interactive map and kiosk will introduce visitors to services available throughout town. Check out the ATC’s website for more information about Gorham and other trail communities.

Fun Fact: In 1998 Governor Chris Sununu completed a thru-hike of the AT from Maine to Georgia. When it was time to submit Gorham’s AT Community application, Gov. Sununu enthusiastically lent his support. Hey, you never know who will be hiking down the trail. Our next President could be starting her thru-hike today.

Hike Like a Local in Shelburne Valley

The narrow Shelburne Valley, defined by the Androscoggin River and mountain ranges to the north and south, has a long history of hikers enjoying its mountain trails. Settled late in American history, the first white settlers did not venture into the half-mile wide valley until just before the Revolutionary War. The river bottoms, at an elevation of 700 feet, provided fertile farmland to the settlers, but the two defining mountain ranges rising to elevations of 3,000 feet to the north and 4,000 feet to the south curtailed further development in town.

While the low valley has been lightly developed, with an average population of less than 400 residents over the past two and one-half centuries, the mountains remained essentially unchanged except for periodic timber harvests. Shelburne remained a small farming village for most of its first 100 years, and then in the mid-1800’s a number of large estates were created by wealthy Boston and New York residents for their summer use. Those estates and their grand homes have largely disappeared, with only remnants of the Whitney Farm still remaining from that era.

The forests of Shelburne have always been a resource to its residents, first logged by the local farmers and then by the large timber barons at the beginning of the 20th Century. Recreational hiking did not come into existence until the 1860s when several local farms and cottages began to take in summer guests from Boston and points south.  The Philbrook Farm Inn began hosting  hikers at that time and continues to offer rooms and cottages to guests and is still owned by the Philbrook family descendants.

Many of Shelburne’s mountains, ponds, and other features were named by Lucia Pychowska and her daughter Marian during their extensive explorations of the Mahoosuc Mountains between 1872 and 1877. Their report printed in Volume II of AMC’s Appalachia journal (1879-1881) extensively details their explorations and documents the first recreational hiking trail leading to Bald Cap Peak and Dream Lake, which was  cut in 1877 by AMC founder R. Stuart Chase.  Major trail building continued through the 1930s and today’s extensive trail system remains as a legacy of those years.

The Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) White Mountain Guide documented Shelburne’s hiking trails from its earliest editions and a review of those guides reveal trails being abandoned or re-routed as logging or other environmental factors impacted the trails. The Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) maintained many of the Shelburne hiking trails during the mid 20th Century and other trails were maintained by the town as fire trails with many following logging or old woods roads.  One of the earliest hiking maps produced locally was printed by the Philbrook Farm Inn for its guests in 1958 by Thorn Dickinson and documented the extensive network of trails surrounding the inn. The Shelburne Conservation Commission offered a comprehensive hand-drawn trails map for all of Shelburne in 1981 that included hiking and fire trails into Success Township. The RMC eventually stopped maintaining trails in Shelburne’s Mahoosuc Mountains and some of the more local trails began to be dropped from successive AMC White Mountain Guides due to lack of maintaining organizations and the abandonment of trails or discontinued maintenance of the old fire trails.

Several Shelburne residents began to recognize the loss of the town’s long heritage of hiking trails and in 2010 formed the Shelburne Trails Club to restore “lost trails” that were abandoned and dropped from earlier trail maps and guides and to maintain those trails and assume maintenance of the Philbrook Farm trail system.  The extensive Philbrook trail system had been maintained by guests from the Briggs family since the mid 19th Century, but with the prime maintainer now in his 90s, a new trail maintainance option was needed.

The Shelburne Trails Club published its own large scale Tyvek trails map in 2016 that included the Shelburne trails restored by the club and all of Shelburne’s network of more than 40 miles of hiking trails in both the Carter-Moriah Mountain Range and the Mahoosuc Mountain Range extending into Success Township. The AMC also began to again reference Shelburne’s “lost trails” in its White Mountain Guides at the same time. This extensive network of hiking trails in Shelburne’s two mountain ranges are now maintained cooperatively by volunteers from the Shelburne Trails Club (STC), the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), and the US Forest Service (USFS).

The large network of inter-connected hiking trails in Shelburne offers a wide range of hiking opportunities and multiple route planning options. Plan a short hike for half a day, a day’s outing, or and overnight backpack — they are all options. Wide open vistas are available from both high mountains and lower summits and waterfalls and high elevation ponds can be reached with a little effort.

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Follow the White Blaze: The Appalachian Trail makes up part of the town’s network of trails and enters Shelburne from the South near Mt Moriah, descends the Rattle River Trail to US Route 2, crosses the Androscoggin River over Leadmine Bridge, then climbs from Leadmine State Forest to the summit of Mt Hayes and on to Dream Lake, continuing northeast through Success Township and on to Maine and Mt Katahdin. The twelve miles of the AT  in Shelburne are maintained by the USFS in the Carter-Moriah Range and by the AMC in the Mahoosuc Mountain Range.

Follow the Blue Blaze: The AMC maintains the blue blazed Peabody Brook Trail and Austin Brook Trail that connects to the Appalachian Trail from North Road. Those trails lead to Dream Lake and Gentian Pond respectively and the open lean-to shelter at Gentian Pond is one of the most popular overnight hikes. The Peabody Brook Trail passes by the impressive Giant Falls and was part of the AT until a re-route and creation of the Centennial Trail in 1976. The USFS also maintains the blue blazed Kenduskeag Trail connecting the AT to the Shelburne Trail along the boundary of  the Wild River Wilderness in the Carter Moriah Range. The portion of that trail between the AT and Shelburne Moriah Mountain includes an extensive section of bog bridges with impressive open views.

Follow the Yellow and Orange Blazes: The USFS maintains the yellow blazed Shelburne Trail from the Wild River Wilderness to US Route 2 near the Maine border. STC maintains a network of yellow and orange blazed inter-connecting trails in the Mahoosuc Range that are divided by the Austin Mill Brook which can be crossed by STC’s unique cable car crossing. Those trails also lead to the summits of Mt. Crag, Middle Mountain, Mt Ingalls, and Bald Cap Ledges with excellent views of the Androscoggin River Valley. Mt Crag is a particularly favorite family hike.

Follow the Rainbow Blazes: STC now maintains the extensive trail system surrounding the Philbrook Farm Inn with its Red, White, Blue, Orange, and Yellow blazes. The Philbrook Farm trail system predates the AMC and ATC protocol for blazing the AT in white, AT connecting trails in blue, and all other trails in yellow blazes. The inn continues its unique and historic blazing system. The Philbrook’s white blaze trail does not follow the AT, but climbs to the two summits of Crow Mountain near the Maine border. Both the red and blue blazed trails climb to the summit of Mt Cabot, which is on Philbrook property and offers a loop hike to the summit. A connector trail from the Red Trail to the Scudder Trail also offers a climb to Mt Ingalls or a descent back to the inn via the Yellow Trail.

Many of the town’s hiking trails pass through public lands, but a significant number of trails in the Mahoosuc Range pass through multiple privately owned tracts of forestland. We ask all trail users to use Leave No Trace practices and act in a manner that respects those private landowners.

The Shelburne Trails Club is supported entirely by volunteers and has no paid staff. The town and its residents actively support the club and the town hosts club events at the Shelburne Town Hall and prints the STC Annual Report in its own Town Report each year. Our trails club has revitalized local interest in our trails and the trails are now widely recognized as a vital local asset.

The Shelburne Trails Map is available at local merchants in Gorham and elsewhere and can also be purchased at town hall or directly through the club. For more information about the club, please visit us at www.Facebook.com/ShelburneTrailsClub.

Eat Like A Local: Plenty of Options in Whitefield and Lancaster

As spring folds gently into summer, the urge to get out and explore the highways and byways of northern New Hampshire takes over. Many travelers heading north enjoy the ride along Route 3, which takes them right through Whitefield and Lancaster on up to the Canadian border. When hunger strikes you might consider stopping at one of these restaurants.

Whitefield

Long a favored stop for visitors heading points north is Grandma’s Kitchen, where the food is home-cooked and the portions plentiful. During the summer months, the eatery has both indoor and outdoor seating, and on a Friday night the parking lot is usually jammed, always a good sign. Choose your favorite from the regular menu or the specials board. We like Grandma’s for its hearty all-day breakfasts, excellent BLTs (a NY Times favorite several years ago), and the all-you-can-eat fish fry on Thursday evenings. You can’t go wrong at Grandma’s.

The proximity of the Inn at Whitefield to the Weathervane Theatre — it’s right across the driveway — makes the Inn a perfect spot for pre-theater dining or for dinner and drinks following a show. You don’t, however, have to wait for summer to enjoy a meal in the comfortable dining room, with a full menu including nightly specials, or order from the pub menu in the bar. During theater season, you might catch the inn’s owner, Joanne Jacaruso, belting out a tune in the bar or even on stage in one of the Weathervane productions!

The mountain views can’t be beat at the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa, and dining at the gorgeous Grand Hotel is also a delight. Options include the casual Harvest Tavern where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner; fine dining in the 1865 Wine Cellar, where the menu is paired with selections from the Resort’s extensive wine cellar; the seasonal Club House where classic summer favorites hit the spot after a round of golf or other outdoor activity; and summertime lounging on the Veranda, when your appetite calls for a refreshing drink or a cup of tea and a light snack. All dining options are open to the public.

Lancaster

Stop by The Polish Princess Bakery & Café for a morning cup of coffee accompanied by one of the bakery’s sweets, or a light lunch — try the gourmet pizza (exceptional) or a slice of quiche. Don’t leave without taking home a loaf of freshly baked bread, including baguettes, French breads, hearty ryes, sourdoughs, and a variety of other loaves and yummy pastries. Wednesdays-Sundays, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

Open for breakfast and lunch, the Granite Grind coffee shop and café invites lingering over one of their specialty coffees and a pastry, or drop in for lunch and try the soup and a sandwich on homemade bread. Tuesday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-2 –p.m.

With plenty of big screens throughout, you won’t miss your favorite game while dining at Scorpios Pizza & Sports Pub. Sit at the bar or in the dining room, or opt for the deck in summer. The restaurant has great wraps, pizza, burgers, pasta, seafood and salads. Take-out service is available. NOTE: Cash or checks only.

A new addition to Lancaster’s downtown is the Copper Pig Brewery located in the basement of the former Lancaster National Bank building, with wonderful views out onto Israel’s River. Enjoy traditional craft beers from IPAs to lagers, ales, and porters, along with a menu that complements the brews.

Find a taste of Ireland in Lancaster at J.L. Sullivan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant. The full bar is stocked with draft and bottled beers, wines and all the fixin’s for a number of specialty drinks, and is a nice complement to pub favorites like steak tips or fish & chips, as well as a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and BBQ dishes, along with interesting appetizers like the Irish Nachos and Fried Pickles. Outside seating is available in summer.

Hike Like a Local in the Androscoggin Valley

Spring has officially sprung in the North Country. Now it’s time to get out there and explore those trails! If you want to hike like a local, here are a couple hidden gems we like to keep all to ourselves.

Mt JasperA short easy hike would be onto Mount Jasper. It is located right behind the Berlin High School and is only ¾ mile long. The mountain itself is only 1,584’ so this hike is good for beginners and for the kids! As you make your way towards the summit there are informational signs telling you about the natural cultural history of the mountain. Once you arrive at the summit you are greeted with front row views of the wind turbines across the way at Jericho Mountain. This hike typically takes no longer than 1 hour.

 

 

Mascot PondAn intermediate hike would be to Mascot Pond, the hike starts in Gorham at the old railroad trestle that crosses the Androscoggin River. From there you follow the AMC Trail signs. It’s a one-mile hike to the trailhead. On the way to the trail head you will cross a bridge which is located on the ATV trail, after you cross the bridge on the ATV trail you take a direct right which leads you straight to onto the Mahoosuc Trail. Continue as if you were heading to Mount Hayes, soon after you start up the trail you will cross under power lines. After about ½ mile, you will reach a side trail to Mascot Pond on the right. Take the side trail, it’s flat from this junction all the way to the pond, only about two minutes. Once you reach the sandy shores of Mascot Pond you can see all the way to Mt. Washington on a clear day. If you turn around and look behind you, there is a large rock slide, which back in 1881 used to be home to the Mascot Mine. If you are up for more of an adventure, climb to the top of the rock slide an you will find the old mine entrances. They have since been closed off, but it is a sight to see. The mines now are protected as they are now home to over 1500 bats which range from 5 different species that hibernate in the caves. This hike in total round trip will take you roughly around 2 hours.

Mount SuccessIf you are looking for a longer more experienced hike, then tie up your hiking boots and head over to Mount Success. This mountain is the last NH summit encountered by the north-bound hikers of the Appalachian Trail, and among locals this mountain is also known as the site of the airplane crash from 1954. Most of the AT hikers start this trail from Gentian Pond, located in Shelburne, taking off from that location however would be a 2-day hike. The less well-known approach, would be to start off from Success Pond Road in Berlin. The Success Pond Trail will start you at 5.4 Miles in and ascends for 2 miles where you will reach the rocky ledge with views of Berlin and the Presidentials. When you walk a little further you will see where the AT intersects and continue with that trail for another 0.6 miles to the summit of Mount Success, the summit is 3,565’.  If you continue east on the AT for about 10 more minutes after reaching the summit you will then be walking parallel of the wreckage of the November 30th, Northeast Airlines Flight 792 crash site. Many pieces of the wreck have been taken over the year but even after 64 years the main fuselage, wings and tail are still quite recognizable and visible from the trail. This hike would be an all-day hike ranging on your experience it could take up to 2 to 5 hours.

Contributed by Kimberly Roy
Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce

Visit Art Galleries & Theatres Like a Local

Northern New Hampshire is brimming over with exciting cultural activities and events to attend, art-filled galleries to visit, and many beautiful and historic buildings to explore and enjoy. Year round, but particularly during the summer months, there are so many cultural happenings to choose from that it would be easy to be out every day and night of the week — and still miss some.

COLEBROOK 

Find locally-created art and local history at the Tillotson Center for the Arts, with its community heritage museum and art gallery, and attend a concert of local and national performing artists in its 175-seat theater. The historic building was originally the horse barn for The Balsams hotel!

The Great North Woods Committee for the Arts organizes musical, cultural and performing arts concerts at the Colebrook Country Club  and Monadnock Congregational Church.

The artists of the Connecticut River Artisan Group display their talents in an on-site gallery at Fiddleheads on Main Street, where you can also find U. S. and Canadian-made products, and Fair Trade items.

Whitefield

Look for the big red barn on Route 3, home to The Weathervane Theater, whose summer playbill includes seven classic and contemporary shows in alternating repertory, along with daytime performances of timeless tales and musical stories for the kids. On the playbill this summer are “Hairspray,” “Seussical,” “Inherit the Wind,” “West Side Story,” and several other exciting productions.

The North Country Chamber Players & White Mountains Music Festival present six summer weekends of classical music at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield and the Sugar Hill Meeting House in Sugar Hill, along with a variety of community events.

Lancaster

Drop by the William Rugh Gallery in downtown Lancaster to view the abstract expressionist paintings of Ed Widmayer (1923-2010), award-winning photographs by Olympics photographer Fletcher Manley, and a selection of locally made fine furniture.

There is an old-timey feeling to the Rialto Theatre. The theater’s distinctive marquee advertises first-run movies, a free summer family film series, and a growing schedule of concerts and other community events.

Gorham

The beautifully restored Medallion Opera House (in the same building as the Town Hall) is the heart of the town’s cultural activities, with a year-round schedule of performing arts.

Grab a cup of coffee and check out the rotating art exhibits at the White Mountain Cafe & Bookstore, along with books by local and regional authors, White Mountains maps and guides, and children’s books and toys.

Berlin

Both the terrific performing arts series and the lovely architecture of 500-seat St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts are worth a look. The former church was built in the baroque architectural style, and includes a central portal with a rose window and two elaborate stained glass accents. The Hook and Hastings pipe organ, donated in 1898, is in excellent condition.

Overlooking the city is the oft-photographed Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church at 20 Petrograd Street, with its six cross-topped domes and distinctive blue and white exterior. The interior includes Byzantine-style Icons, early 20th century oil paintings, framed imported prints and faux marble wainscoting.

A glimpse into Berlin’s history can be found in the Berlin Murals, adorning a wall of the former Brown Company Research Building on Main Street, just south of the Service Credit Union Heritage Park. The images depict scenes from Berlin’s history including the city’s paper industry, logging, ski jumping and hockey. 

Bretton Woods

The AMC Highland Center hosts an impressive display of the mountain photography of explorer, mountaineer, and pioneering aerial photographer Brad Washburn. And the AMC’s series of Free Evening Programs introduce visitors to a variety of subjects, from musical evenings and visiting authors to tales of mountaineering in far away places and identifying the stars overhead.

Although it’s neither an art gallery nor a theater, it’s worth a stop at the architecturally magnificent Omni Mt. Washington Hotel, a National Historic Landmark. First opened in 1902, the hotel was built by 250 master craftsmen in the Spanish Renaissance style.

The WREN Local Works (Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network) gallery in the lobby of the hotel showcases the work of dozens of regional artisans, including original art, jewelry, pottery, textiles, photography and unique and handmade gifts.

Bethlehem

The Colonial Theatre is one of the oldest continuously operated movie theaters in the country. The summer season features Grammy Award-winning artists, independent feature films, film series & festivals, children’s programs, community events and more. The Live! 2018 season includes performances by Greg Brown, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, The Secret Sisters, the Cashore Marionettes, Girls Guns & Glory and more!

Don’t miss First Friday at the Gallery at WREN where you can meet the local and regional artists whose art will be on display for the remainder of the month. The juried artists include painters, photographers, potters, sculptors, fiber and multi-media artists. While you are there, browse the adjacent Local Works store for handmade jewelry, pottery, textiles and more.

Sip a latte, munch on a scone (recommended!), or order up a delicious breakfast sandwich or luncheon salad at Maia Papaya while you browse the art on the walls. The café’s rotating selection of arts and artists is always interesting and is guaranteed to add some extra spice to your coffee or sandwich!

Housed in a historic church, circa 1877, 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center includes a communal working art studio, a fine art gallery, and live performance space. Resident artists include sculptor Valery Mahuchy, Nitty Gritty Pottery, Kool Kinetics, Deathmau Studios, The Artworks Custom Framing and Larcom Studios. Artist receptions are held on the first Friday of each month.

A rotating selection of art, including an annual jewelry show, adorns the walls at the Cold Mountain Café, just across the street from The Colonial Theatre. Great food, the cozy atmosphere, and artwork on the walls makes this a must-stop spot.

And new to Main Street Bethlehem, Rek’-lis Brewing Company will be featuring local artists in their stairway to the sum•it bar, the highest bar in a town east of the Rockies. They will also be part of First Friday’s in Bethlehem! 

Littleton 

Situated on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River, the League of NH Craftsmen Littleton Gallery showcases some of New Hampshire’s finest craftsmen working in jewelry, clay, glass, fibers, wood, metal, photography, baskets, printmaking and mixed media. Or sign up for a hands-on workshop in pottery, jewelry making, basketry, painting, and more at the gallery’s Studio School.

The Loading Dock is a multi-disciplinary collaborative space, with performances by emerging artists, open mike, art studio and classes.

Jax, Jr. Cinemas has been a Main Street destination since 1951, with two cinemas showing first-run movies.

For a wonderful photo op stop check out the Pollyanna statue on the Littleton Library front lawn. The hometown of Eleanor H. Porter, author of the beloved children’s book “Pollyanna,” Littleton is now known as the “Glad!” town.

Franconia

Poet Robert Frost’s former homestead is now a museum for poets and poetry. The Frost Place hosts three summer poetry writing conferences, including poetry readings open to the public.