Saturday, June 14, 2014

Discover southern New Hampshire’s natural wonders on these hikes

Sunset from atop Mount Monadnock.
Photo courtesy New Hampshire Dept. of
Resources and Economic Development
Among the best ways to enjoy southern New Hampshire’s natural highlights is via a day hike. Just four short trails will allow you to experience The Granite State's southern top sight – views from ancient mountains, fire towers guarding grand forests, ice age-era rock formations, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Views from Ancient Mountains
A hike to the peak of Mount Monadnock – which at 3,165 feet elevation is nearly a thousand feet higher than any other point within 30 miles – will leave you standing atop a 400 million-year-old rock. The popular mountain, mentioned in writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, is located in Monadnock State Park, and a 2.5-miles round trip hike. From the parking lot at the park headquarters, head up White Dot Trail to White Cross Trail then to the summit.

Fire Towers Guarding Grand Forests
You can hike to a fire observation tower atop 908-foot South Mountain in Pawtuckaway State Park. Surrounded by classic New England woodlands, the tower can be reached via the Mountain Trail and a segment of the Southridge Trail, which is about 4-miles round trip. Parking and the trailhead are at the park entrance off of Route 156.

Ice Age-Era Rock Formations
The unique Pulpit Rock glacial formation – consisting of cliffs, pools, and waterfalls –formed some 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. Located in the Pulpit Rock Conservation Area near Bedford, take the Kennard (Orange) Trail to the rock for 1.2 mile round trip.

Atlantic Ocean
Day hikers can walk three ecosystems – upland forests, freshwater wetlands, and a tidal salt marsh – on a walk leading to the Atlantic Ocean at the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Access the 4.6-mile Sweet Trail by parking in the lot off of Longmarsh Road in Durham.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.