November 25, 2012.
Thanksgiving weekend, where I get to do an extra hike thanks to the long weekend. Off for a quickie up in the Squam Lakes region, my first time hiking in this area. If it weren't for red-lining I probably would have never come here. I chose this whole route figuring it would be relatively easy and maybe to get Lisa to come out with me. But she had other things to do and could not make it. So out of the house around 8:30 and off to the Ashland exit off of I-93 and at the trailhead around 10.
Sidebar: Would someone please explain to me why gas in Ashland NH is cheaper than anyplace else? Seriously, $3.33 a gallon when the southern part of the state is $3.49, just doesn't make any sense. End of sidebar. The night before I had been staring at his map trying to find an efficient way of doing this hike and finally came to accept that there isn't one. So it looks like there will be a lot of out and backs in order to get this little section done. The trailhead starts on a little pull-off on the side of Route 113 in Holderness and Cotton Mountain Trail begins following an active but gated road up to a gravel pit that looks more like a logging operation. First peak of the day is Cotton Mountain.
After reaching the gravel pit the trail turns towards Cotton Mt and at the base heads into the woods. It is not long before the trail starts looking like a typical White Mountain trail, steep and rocky.
The weather is mild in the 30's and the skies are a beautiful blue.
It doesn't take long to reach the top but sure did feel like it took longer as this short little climb was kicking my butt. Looking at the time it was only twenty minutes, I sure was glad that Lisa did not come with me because what I thought was going to be relatively easy was more like moderate. At the summit of Cotton Mt there is a great view to the south of Squam Lake.
Back to the trail and down the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail I go and along the way I come upon one of nature's little oddities, a hole in a tree. The first picture is looking through the hole to the tree behind it that has the trail blaze on it. The second is the hole by itself.
This trail is a mixture of everything, from steep boulder lined path to gentle hardwood forests.
I make it to the intersection with Prescott Trail which later in the day I will come to again. Eventually the trail begins the climb up to Mt Livermore via a series of switchbacks. The summit of Livermore has an opening looking out on Squam Lake and even a look at Mt Chocorua and Whiteface.
Off in the distance is Mount Kearsarge.
Time to head down to Old Mountain Road and in less than ten minutes I am there for the first out and back of the day. Down to the west end of Old Mountain Road and then back up. The west end is a huge washed out mess with exposed slabs and deep gullies.
Back to the top and now down to the east end and it is like night and day between the two. This section is still in good shape and passable if one were to take a vehicle on it. Towards the bottom there is an open field on the left and after taking a picture of Red Hill something catches my eye at the edge of the field. Walking closer it is the remnants of an old iron railing for some steps leading up to a cellar hole of a long gone house. Surprising no one ever rebuilt considering the views it had.
Back onto the road and the next junction is with Old Highway and passing an old cemetery and then at the end a maple house and another shot of Red Hill from Burleigh Farm.
Back up Old Highway and just after the junction with Old Mountain Road in the woods on the left is another cellar hole.
A few minutes later and the junction with Prescott Trail arrives and time to head up that trail over to Crawford-Ridgepole Trail and then back. Along the way there are quite a few intersections with old logging roads or maybe even actual one time roads. This whole area would be a great place to explore at some time in the future as it looks like there is some history to this place. I was also getting excited that this would be my very first NPD (No Person Day) but that would be nullified about halfway across the Prescott Trail when I unexpectedly came across another couple heading in the opposite direction, some day, some day. Reaching the junction and then heading back I stop for some more interesting pictures that are near the junction with Old Highway and Prescott.
Turning right back onto Old Highway it is time for the trek out to 113 and back to the car. Passing another old cemetery and some more roads that some day will lead to other adventures I make it to close to the end where the road is even in worse shape than Old Mountain Highway. Washouts that are six feet deep and giant exposed boulders. No vehicle will ever see this road again.
Finally reaching the road and a right turn and a quick few minutes later and I am back at the beginning. A quick 4 hour hike that didn't seem that quick and a lot of interesting things to go back to some day. Squam Lake area looks like a great place to explore and there are still more trails in this area I have to tackle.
Final numbers: 8.2 miles, 4 hours.
Redline Miles: 5.5, Total to Date: 237.3