Just when I have myself convinced that fewer people are out and about hiking in this age of ever-present technology (IPhones, IPads, etc.), a ride on Route 11 past Mount Major in Alton calms my concerns.
I’m a little perplexed, but pleased to see so many people enjoying one of the best local hikes with its magnificent views. Perplexed? Yes. In the summer when it was in the high 80s, I drove by Major and observed the parking lot full with overflow parking queued out along the highway. I don’t like hiking in the heat, but these summer folks were out there in the hundreds — and bless their hearts, they were hiking.
So good for them.
As I return to my fall hiking column, I am reminded of the forced marches of my youth. My dad loved the outdoors and, in particular, enjoyed hiking in the White Mountains. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, my brothers and I were unwilling participants in many hiking adventures.
I have since grown to appreciate those trips and remain forever indebted to my dad for making us go. I know we were not always pleasant company.
I can picture it now — a lazy fall Saturday morning in Northwood. Three brothers cozily wrapped in blankets strategically placed like little teepees over old furnace floor registers in front of the TV, watching cartoons. But not for long. My dad made sure of that. He switched off the TV, whisked off the blankets to reveal shivering, pajama-clad boys, and commanded us to “shake a leg.” It was time, like it or not, to go hiking in the White Mountains.
We grumbled up to our rooms, slowly dressed and then piled into the family van for a trip north.
The closer we got to our hiking destination, the less we grumbled. By the time we hit the trailhead, we had transformed into hiking go-getters. Mountain names like the Wilderness Trail, Tripyramid, Osceola, Moosilauke, Whiteface, Passaconaway, Owl's Head, Carrigain and Chocorua are among those that bubble to the surface when I recall those bygone rambles.
As we meander into fall, below are listed some fine local hikes from the Lakes Region to the Atlantic Ocean.
If you are just getting started, here are a few warm-up hikes — Blue Job and Teneriffe mountains in Farmington, Plummers Ridge Trails in Milton (on either side of the White Mountain Highway), the Gonic Trails, Stonehouse Pond in Barrington and Odiorne State Park in Rye.
If you want something a little more difficult, I suggest the following — Green Mountain in Effingham, Red Hill in Moultonborough, Major, Pawtuckaway Mountains in Nottingham, Devil’s Den in New Durham, and Copple Crown and Moose mountains in Brookfield.
Two good publications to help you pick a hike are the AMC’s “Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide,” and the “Lakes Region Trail Guide,” annually published in Wolfeboro by The Appalachian Mountain Teen Project. AMTP recently closed, but its hiking booklet is a boon for those tramping in the Lakes Region if you can find a copy.
By the way, if you do plan to hike Mount Major, do so during the week when there is less of a crowd. If you pick a weekend, expect lots of company — and that will be on you.
Please remember to respect the trails and carry out what you carry in.
Mike Whaley is the Sports Editor for Foster’s Daily Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com. His occasional fall hiking column appears from September to November.