Beaver Brook Falls

I am constantly on the look out for a new waterfall to explore. I had heard about Beaver Brook Falls through my various google searches. After Easter festivities and breakfast I was itching to get a hike in, but wanted something kind of quick. With all the snow melted and rain we have had I thought it would be a great time to check out the falls.

From Route 9 heading east out of Keene take a right onto Washington Street. Take a left onto Concord Road and then an immediate left onto Washington Street Extension. Drive to the end and there is a gate. Park near the gate, but not in front of it. Also be mindful that this is residential area.

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This is not a true hike, but more of a walk, as you are walking down an old tar road along power lines. I feel you could push strollers down this road. My husband said he liked walking down the old road because he felt like he was in a scene of the Walking Dead.

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As you are walking up the road you are following Beaver Brook which provides a relaxing sound and a beautiful stream. Along the hillsides we saw several cascades flowing down due to the recent rainfalls.

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There was a sign about an Old Man of Keene, we looked for it, but are not sure if we found the correct one as many of the ledge outcroppings looked like they could be a man.

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There is a small incline heading up to the falls, but nothing that is hard. You can also start to see the falls from the road. In order to get a good view it is best to climb down the embankment to the bottom of the falls. Just use cautions as it is very steep, the rocks are loose and slippery when wet.

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Once you get to the base of the falls it is pretty enjoyable.

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I would not consider this a real hike, but it is a nice walk to a pretty waterfall. It was about .8miles to the falls. There is a section at the top of the falls if you wanted to spread out a blanket for a picnic. Good walk for young families or beginner hikers. I would only caution if you chose to walk to the bottom of the falls due to the loose rocks and it being steep.

The World is Our Classroom Book Review

I love to read. I do not read as much as I like, but I still love to read. I mostly enjoy books about the outdoors and romance. On a recent trip to my town library I noticed they had a new book in. The title intrigued me. It fit with my beliefs and what I like to read so I grabbed it to take home. It usually takes me a few weeks to a month to read to a book, but once I picked this book up, I could not put it down. I finished this book in four days!!

The World is Our Classroom by Cindy Ross is one of the best outdoor books I have ever read. The books takes you through different aspects of Cindy, her husband Todd and their two children Sierra And Bryce travel lifestyle and how they used the outdoors as the children’s playground and education.

The book talks about backpacking and biking long distances with children. How they educated their children through their various travels and adventures from learning about biology while dissecting various animals in the wild, taking place in reenactments to learning about history and by spending time with a family in Morocco to learn about other cultures.

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Even when at home in the modest log cabin they built by hand, they lived a simple life with limited technology and items. They focused their time on being outdoors and traveling, which worked very well for their family. When reading this book it made me thing of my own family and lifestyle. We live a modest life in a small home, which allows us to spending time doing many day trips around New England and slowly starting to be able to travel outside of New England.

I love the view point that the author gives about their lifestyle and why it worked for them. It opens your eyes that there is a lot more out there then just going by what modern society tells you, you should be doing. It reminds you to pave your own way to what you feel is best for you and your family. If you have any interest in the education, outdoor and travel I highly recommend this book.

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Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis

When I am looking for a book to read, I tend to head towards outdoor books featuring women hikers or sappy romance novels. I recently picked up the Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis at my local library. Tip, if you do not like to buy books like me, always check with your local library. I am able to get the majority of the books I request through the interlibrary loan system.

This book is about a young college age girl who's mother has always coddled her, dressing her, helping her shower, basically planning every minute of her life. When she goes to college across the country to try to separate herself from her childhood she is raped within the first few nights there. In a way to escape and find herself she leaves college to hike the Pacific Coast Trail.

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The book follows her expedition on the trail, the various people she meets and how they impact her. It talks about the journey of finding herself, trying to figure out the person she is and to get out from under her mother’s thumb She also tries to learn to love herself and allow herself to be loved after being raped.

I am not sure why, but i had a really difficult time getting into the book. It took me about a month to read, which is unusual for me. I usually read a book a week or every two weeks. I did not think the book was written poorly, but just difficult to hold my attention. I overall enjoyed the story, but I would not call it one of my favorites.

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Wildcat Waterfall

I love when I find hidden gem in a suburban area. We had to run some errands in Nashua and my daughter had some tokens to Fun World. After spending a few hours in crowds I needed some time in nature. That is when I remembered about a waterfall in Merrimack that my co-worker had told me about.

Located off of Baboosic Lake Road on Currier Road in Merrimack is a nice conservation area, Wildcat Falls Conservation Area. There are a few different trails in this area, but the main attraction is the waterfall.

From the parking area we started on on the path, which was still icy and muddy. There is a small pond to your right where we saw some ducks swimming around.

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At the first intersection we went right to take the Falls Loop Trail. This was a nice walk along the Souhegan River. There were a couple benches along the way if you wanted to relax and enjoy the view. It was flat, until right before the falls.

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Then there was a series of steps leading up to an outcropping of rocks that overlooked the waterfall. It was about a half mile to the falls.

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There were signs that said swim at your own risk, so I am not sure if people swim here in the summer.

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With the recent rain and snow melt the falls were pretty impressive.

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After enjoying the view of the falls, we looped back to the Connector One Trail. Which was also flat.

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In total we walked about an easy mile loop. I love that this waterfall is easy to get to, but also provides some time in nature. Perfect hike for beginners or with children. Just use caution by the falls as the rocks can get slippery if wet and there is no railing.

There are options for other trails as well. Due to not having appropriate footwear and it being later in the day we opted out of a longer hike today. It was still nice to get a quick mile in with a beautiful view.

Gregg Trail at Crotched Mountain

Located on Crotched Mountain Road in Greenfield, New Hampshire is the Crotched Mountain Accessible Trails. These are great trails for beginners. There are two trails here, the Dutton Trail, which is treat for strollers, little legs, and beginner hikers. There is also the Gregg Trail that provides some elevation gain through a series of switchbacks. There is also a trail that goes straight up if you want a little more challenge.

I recently did the hike with my Hike Like a Woman Monadnock Group. We started out from the parking lot, heading towards the right, which provides a beautiful view of Rose and Pinnacle Mountains to the east.

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We then followed the trail into the forest.

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Along the trail were various signs with poems on them. I am unsure if these are done my local artist, but the poems were related to nature.

About a mile up the switchbacks you reach a observation deck that looks towards Mt. Monadnock and to the north west. The views were beautiful.

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At the recommendations of a follow hiker we hiked up a little further to what one of my group members stated is a blueberry field in the summer. From here we were able to get a much better view to the east and west.

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From here it is about another mile to the top of Crotched Mountain up the Shannon Trail. My family and I have been to the top, but we took the Bennington Trail. We chose to turn around at the blueberry fields and we did about a two and half mile hike.

The accessible trails Dutton and Gregg are great for beginning hikers. I love the view that you get from the Gregg trail with minimal effort. I’m not sure if the view is just as good in the spring in summer due to leaves on the trees, but I am sure you are able to still get a view.

Mile Slip Forest Mitchell Brook Trail

Located at the end of Mile Slip Road in Milford is a great town forest. I recently did the Badger Hill Trail with my Hike Like a Woman Monadnock Group. On the trail map I noticed another trail that followed a brook and I wanted to check it out.

My family and I recently visited the trail. From the parking lot there is a hiking sign marking the start of the trail. The trail slowly goes down a hill. There is a junction of the trail, yellow markers goes to the right and white trail markers go to the left. I am not sure where the yellow ones went, but I followed the white ones towards the brook.

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We continued down until we could see the brook in the faint distance. The trail goes along the brook, no really close, but you can see it. There is a spot on the trail with a map that shows some benches near the water, so you are able to get closer. We did see two benches beside the stream which looked like a nice place to relax.

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We followed the stream for about a half of a mile. We saw some large dear tracks. Signs of porcupine eating a tree. Along with a couple trees with some cool mushrooms on them.

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The trail looped up around to the main trail where you can also connect to the Badger Hill Trail, link above, if you wanted a longer hike with some incline . At the connecting trail there is a nice hill for doing some trail sliding.

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The main trail is a multipurpose trail, we did see a couple snowmobiles so just use caution when you are on the main trail heading back to the parking lot. From where the Mitchell Brook Trail connects with the main trail it is about a half mile back to the parking lot.

This trail is great for beginner hikers and family hikes. The whole loop is about a mile and a half with minimal incline.

Beaver Brook Trail off Proctor Hill Road

Located across from Diamond Machine on Rt 130 in Hollis is an another trailhead for the Beaver Brook Trail Association. My husband and I recently had an hour to ourselves while our daughter was at art lessons so we decided to check out this trail as it was close to her art studio. We followed the Beaver Brook Trail to Cow Lane and then to Eastman Meadow Trail and then back to the parking lot. The map is a great resource of all the trails through the Association.

The trail is fairly flat. It was a little icy, but were were able to walk without any type of crampons.

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There are some pretty sections of the trail over looking, streams, bogs and a pond.

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As well as a platform viewing area.

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My favorite part was a boardwalk that went over a bog connecting Cow Lane and Eastman Meadow trail.

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We only spent an hour on the trail, but really enjoyed it and were able to hike three miles. It was also nice for my husband and I to get some alone time, which does not happen very often. If you are looking for a cheap date, hiking is a great way to do it. These are great trails or all abilities of hikers and those with young children. In the winter they are good for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Mile Slip Town Forest Badger Hill Trail

I love when I can find a new trail that I have never been on. I find most of my hikes either through word of mouth or Google searches. This one I found on a recent Google Search. Mile Slip Forest is located at the end of Mile Slip Road in Milford, NH.

A great thing about this trail is there is a large parking lot. Many of the trails in Southern New Hampshire do not have great parking, which makes it difficult when you hike with many people, like I do. There are a few different trails that you can take. From the parking lot you can do about a mile loop following Mitchell Brooke. Or you can do a loop up to Badger Hill. There are some different variations you can do of this trail. I would recommend either using the All Trails app or printing off a map to bring with you.

My Hiking Group celebrated Galentines Day, (a day to celebrate our gal pals) with a hike up the Badger Hill Trail. A short section of the trail does follow a snowmobile trail. We meandered through the woods with some steep inclines at times. Steeper than I expected. The trail was fairly easy to follow with trail markers and using the the All Trails Map.

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There was one section that I went the wrong way because I think the trail sign was pointing in the wrong directions. We had to do a little bush wacking, but I was able to get us back on the trail without issues. Half way around the loop there was a map of the loop which mentioned a bench, which I thought would be fun to find.

We continued on the trail and when we got to the top of the hill there was some view of the Wapack Range. It was not a clear view due to trees in the way, but we were able to get a decent view. At the top of the hill we did not see the bench. As we started down the rest of the loop we did come cross the bench. Even though there were some tress obstructing the view, it was still a good view looking again towards the Wapack Range.

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As we finished up the hike there were up and downs with some steep sections, with the ice it made it little challenging. As long as you had good Microspikes it was not that bad.

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Towards the end of our hike we all took turns doing a little but slide down a small hill, which was so much fun.

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I was a little surprised to find out we only did two miles as I left like we did a lot more. I look forward to going back and doing the Mitchell Brook Trail. Due to the elevation gain and some steep sections I would recommend this trail for people who had some hiking experience and not for young children

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Senter Falls

Waterfalls, I just cannot say how much I love them. I usually love them just in the summer, but the last couple winters I have really found a new love for frozen waterfalls. The different formations they take with the change in weather and the beauty of the water rushing below the ice. I recently watch a video on Facebook with Live Free with Kris where she visited four waterfalls in the Wilton/Lynborough Area. i had visited three of them, Purgatory Falls, Tucker Brooks Falls and Garwin Falls. I had not been to or heard of Senter Falls. After a week of being held up inside due to illness I was itching to get out.

Located on Lyndeborough Road in Lyndeborough NH is the trailhead. The best way to get to the trail head is from Second NH Turnpike near the Francestown town line. From there you turn onto Lyndeborough Road, which is a dirt road. When we visited the road had a lot of ruts in it. I’m not sure how well it is maintained when we have snow or what it is like in mud season. Please plan accordingly. The trailhead is about a half mile in on the right hand side. There is a trailhead sign that says Alan and Edgar Rice Nature Area. There was not much of a parking area. There was only enough room across from the trailhead for one car.

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With all the melting and rain we have had the trail was covered in ice requiring microspikes for the hike. You start out by going down a small incline and over a nice wooden bridge.

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After you cross the bridge and bare to the left you will see that you have the option to go right and follow the blue trail markers or go left up a hill following the yellow trail markers. I recommend going right for the best views of the falls. Within just a couple minutes you come to the first set of falls.

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Then you climb up along the waterfall for about a quarter of a mile for some great views.

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With the final cascade being the best off all.

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When you get to the top of the waterfall the trail goes left up a incline, then you follow a ridge and then have a steep downward incline connecting you back to where you started.

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Of course there was a little time to play on the ice on the side of the trail. 

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The trail is a little less than three quarters of a mile. I would only recommend it in the winter if you have some form of microspikes. My daughter did the hike with us, but she also had a form of grips on the bottom of her boots. At times my husband and I still had to help her.

I cannot wait to go back in the spring time to see what it looks like then.

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Out with the Old Pack and in with the New Pack

About 13 years ago, my husband and I moved into our first and current home.  We were excited about living in the Monadnock Region due to the almost unlimited outdoor activities in our backyard.  For my first birthday in our new home my husband bought me a camelbak day pack and the Hiking the Monadnock Region Book.  This is what started my journey of exploring the trails in our area.  For the last 13 years I have been using the same backpack for all my hiking adventures.  This fall I noticed that there were holes forming in the bottom of the pack.  My husband tried to convince me to get a new one, but I was not emotionally ready.  I know it sounds silly, but this pack is a symbol of so many hikes since moving to the Monadnock Region. Such as hiking Mt. Monadnock, exploring other trails in Vermont and New Hampshire. As well as hiking so many trails solo and with my husband. Also, my daughters first hike, hiking with friends and starting my women’s hiking group

I was recently chosen as an ambassador for the 365 Mile Challenge.  One of the many perks of being an ambassador is receiving amazing swag to try out and review.  I was lucky enough to get picked for a Deuter Speed Lite 22 Hiking Backpack. I figured now was a good time to start making the transition to a new pack. When it arrived I was in love with the color, we did not get to pick which color, but I feel I lucked out as other ambassadors got red and black, but I am partial to the green.  The other part I noticed and love is there is a yellow flower attached to the pack.  It is such a fun talking point.  As I emptied out the old pack and filled up the new one I was feeling a little sentimental. It was time to move on, it is just a backpack, right?

Out with in old and in with the new.

Out with in old and in with the new.

I worked on organizing my new backpack.  There was plenty of room for all my items.  The only thing I missed was there is only one small pocket instead of several small ones like my older pack It did seem a little disorganized.  I like there is a pocket on the side for my water bottle. There is also a small pocket on the hip belt to put small items like chapstick. The biggest part of the backpack had plenty of room for my first aid kit and all my winter essentials. There is also a front pouch that does not have a zipper that will be great for when I walk to yoga and can put my mat in it. 

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I tested out the backpack on an easy three and half mile hike.  Even though the pack is not broken in yet, it was comfortable.  The hip straps fit nicely, which is good because I have wide hips.  The straps were comfortable and easy to adjust.  I am also large chested and the chest strap did not make me feel like I was pressing my breasts together like other packs have. The pack was easy to get on and off.  When I did need to find something it was not hard to find items in my pack even though I was worried about being able to organize some of my things.   

Some of my fellow ambassadors from the 365 Mile Challenge also had feed back on the pack. 

Julie: “I love all the straps and loops, awesome pockets on the waist. I’m 5’10 and once I was able to get the straps adjusted for my height it fit well. There is Good airflow. I looooove the color! It's sort of a ruby red. And who doesn't love a cute flower on their pack? Overall a good pack and a decent fit for my tall frame.” 

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Kari: “I have never invested in a pack for myself. I have always had hand-me-down or borrowed packs. They have worked fine for me, but I have never LOVED a backpack. I have a new Deuter Speed Lite 22 SL backpack that is a lady's fit and I cannot believe how great it is! My two favorite features is the chest strap and the shoulder adjustment straps. All of the backpacks I have used have chest straps that are not effective because of their location. I cannot move it high enough for it to be effective and comfortable. This pack adjusts so it is actually across my chest (and not my breasts) and helps carry the weight. I also love the shoulder adjustment straps because it pulls the pack nice and close to my body so I am able to carry the weight close to my body. It makes all the difference. I am still learning about the different features and storage space. I have been using my backpack for sledding excursions and for day to day. I am looking forward to using it on a longer skiing trip and cannot wait for it to be my go to summer hiking pack!” Kari can be found on Instagram @pofahlpaths

Kari and her new pack.

Kari and her new pack.

Overall I am really enjoying the pack as it’s perfect for my height of 5ft 3 inches. If you are a taller women I would recommend trying it on first. I have only used it twice, but I have not found any complaints about it. I would highly recommend this pack to other women. I do always recommend that you go to a store to try a pack on before buying as they fit all body types differently.

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Dinsmore Brook Conservation Area

I recently did this trail with my Hike Like a Woman Monadnock Hiking Group. Let’s just say that the hike did not go as planned. There are two locations for this hike. I chose the trail located on Old County North Road. There is a small kiosk and on the kiosk at the trail head was a sign that said bridge out. There was no other information. We decided to try the trail anyway. About a two tenths of a mile down the trail the bridge was out. The stream was too wide and high to cross. We ended up going back to the cars and headed for the other trailhead on Second NH Turnpike North. From Route 47 turn onto School House Road, then take the first sharp right turn onto the Turnpike, a few hundred yards and look for the woods road on the left hand side for the trailhead. There is a small white sign nailed to a tree.

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The trail follows an old road/ATV/Snowmobile trails. I’m not sure if we were on the trail the whole hike or if we were just following the ATV/Snowmobile trails. There are trail markers making the trail, but halfway through the hike I did not see them anymore. There were views of wetlands and a flowing stream.

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If you are going to hike this I would recommend printing off a map, it’s not the best map, but it gives you an idea of where you are going. The day that we did the trail it was very icy and of course I was the only one that did not have my micro spikes. My husband had bought me a new pair for Christmas and I was excited to try them out, but I figured with the warmer weather and rain that the trail would be muddy not icy. I was wrong.

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The trail is relatively flat, my guess is it can be really muddy. There is not official parking area so you have to park on the side of the road. This would be a good trail for snowshoeing if we ever get any snow or if you are looking for a leisurely walk into the woods.

On a happy note three of us, a friend, my daughter and I finished the 365 Mile Challenge, meaning we did 365 self propelled miles in 2018. Click here to read more about the challenge.

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Pulpit Rock Trail

I have been hearing a lot about this trail and was recently in the area so I wanted to check it out. I ended up doing it on two different days because the first time we hike the trail, I parked at the wrong end and we did not make it to the main feature of the trail, which is the waterfall.

The first time we hiked it we parked the the trailhead located off Horace Greeley Road in Bedford. From Rt 101 we turned onto Joppa Hill Road. We followed the road until the intersection of Horace Greeley Road and Joppa Hill Road. There is a farm directly in front of you. Turn left and the trail head is on your right I would guess between a quarter of a mile to a half mile from the turn. There is a small sign marking the trailhead, but it is easy to miss. There is room for 1-2 cars to park here or your can drive a little bit down the dirt road. It can be muddy if we have had a lot of rain. There is a little bit bigger parking lot for 2-4 cars depending on the size of the cars. There is a small kiosk marking the start of the trail.

You start out of by walking along a bog where you can see beaver and birds. There are planks to walk over.

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Then you head into the woods for a few minutes before coming to a split into the trail. You can go straight which loops you further up the trail, but is longer or you can take a left into the field. We went left through the field. There are signs stating animal activity in the field so they ask that you walk on the outskirts of the field to the other side and go back into the woods.

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You meander through the woods, up little hills and over streams. We talked about a mile and half in, but due to having movie tickets, we did not have enough time to complete the whole three and half mile trail. I was disappointed that we did not make it to the main feature of the trail.

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Since some of my coworkers live in this area I asked them about the trail. Of course we parked at the wrong end to see the falls. There is nothing wrong with doing the hike from where we started, but if you are on a time crunch I would not recommend it.

Since I hate to leave a trail unfinished I followed my co workers instructions and went back a second time, this time we parking at a much bigger parking lot off of New Boston Road in Bedford. This parking lot was better marked and had room for multiple cars. There is a sign that you need to lock your cars and secure your belongings, which I do not see at many trail heads so I wonder if there has been some break ins here.

We followed the Kennard Trail for almost a mile to Pulpit rock. We started out by walking on some board walks. Then following a fairly flat trail until we reached Pulpit Rock. There are a few side trails, but you want to stay on the Kennard Trail.

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Once at Pulpit Rock there is a kiosk with information about the area.

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You can stand and look down in to the gorge.

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There are trails around the rock and down into the gorge. Due to the ice we were not able to get all the way down, but were able to get some decent views.

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I am excited to come back and explore when there is no ice. Please use caution as the rocks can be very slippery, if you are hiking with kids make sure they stay away from the rocks.

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If you want a shorter hike I would start from the New Boston Road side, if you are looking for a longer hike I would start from the Horace Greeley Road Side.

Pack it Lunch Box

I was recently looking for a lunch box for work and day trips. I had had a Thirty One Lunch bag for many years. Although it last well (over seven years), it was a little too big and bulky for what I needed and it started to rip. I started asking around and looking to see what my options were. My job requires me to travel between two different locations so having a refrigerator is not always an option. I needed a lunch bag that was light weight, would keep my food cold and had cool designs.

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With the recommendations of some friends I found the lunch bag from a company called Pack-It. Lets just say I found a great lunch box. They come in various sizes and designs. The best thing about them is the ice packs are built into the lunch box. When you are not using the bag you store it in your freezer. As you can see above I chose a design that looks like mountains.

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Since i have only had it for since this fall, I am basing how long it stayed cold during New England Fall and Winter weather. So far I have had enough room for everything. It stays cold for at least five to six hours. I am able to fit my breakfast and lunch for work in this bag. I store the lunch box on a shelf in my office. You can put it in a fridge if you have access to it for it to stay colder longer.

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When my daughter needs a new lunch box I will be getting her one as well. I have recommended this lunch box to my friends and co workers as I this is the best lunch box I have ever had. If you are looking for a lunch box that will stay cool and you do not have to worry about having ice packs this is great lunch bag.

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Keen Kids Hiking Boots

We recently were looking for new hiking boots for our daughter. We had always bought second hand boots due to her feet growing so quickly and not wanted to spend a lot of money. With us doing more and more hiking I wanted to get her something more durable, easier to get off and on and easier for her to tie. Lets face it parents how many times do we hear on the trail, “there is something in my boot” and it is nice to have a pair of boots that are easy to get on and off.

We started looking around. One day we walked into Alec’s Shoe Store in Nashua. if you have not been into this store you have to go. There have any type of shoe you are looking for, including a good selection of hiking good and there customer service is amazing.

In their clearance section they had a pair of Keen kids hiking boots in her size. I love Keen shoes. Every summer my daughters has a pair of their sandals. She uses them a lot and is not easy on them. They always hold up. She out grows them before she wears them out. Therefore I was happy to try out their boots.

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We have tried them out on a few hikes and so far so good. I love that they do not have traditional laces so they never come untied. If my daughter needs to take her boots off on the trail she can easily do so. They are water resistant. I would not go through streams with them, but so far when walking through mud and puddles on the trail her feet have stayed dry. My daughter says they are comfortable and she likes wearing them. She has good support when going up and down rocks and mountains.

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If you have an active hiker in your life, I would highly recommend these boots.

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Becoming Odyssa

I am always on the look out for new books to read either from social media, the Hike Like a Woman Adventure Book Club or recommendations from friends. I keep a list of books i want to read and luckily my library is able to get most of the books I request. Side note: If you do not want to buy books I highly recommend going to your library and if they do not have the book speak to the librarian as they can usually get them through an interlibrary loan. I’m not one to read a book more than once so I love this option.

I cannot rave enough about my most recent read. I love to read books about the Appalachian Trail for a couple reason. I grew up at the end of the trail so i love reading about my old exploring grounds and I would love to be able to hike the trail some day. I have read a few different books about the trail such as Hiking Through and Grandma Gatewood. Even though I loved both of those books, there was something about this book that made me feel like I was hiking right beside her and she had more realistic description of the trail.

Becoming Odyssa Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail is a story about a women who’s trail name is Odyssa who sets out to hike the Appalachian Trails and talks about there adventure along the way.

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She sets out to hike the trail alone and talks about the people she meets along the way, the friends she makes to help support her through the hike and the ones that just make her feel uncomfortable. She talks about being a female on the trail and hiking alone and the challenges and rewards that come along with it. There are animals encounters and life changing encounters. As I expect with most through hikers there are times where she wanted to give up, but found the courage and strength to keep going. Sometimes I feel that authors can try to sugar coat life on the trail, but I felt this was realistic life on the trail. If you are looking for a book about adventure and finding yourself on the trail this is a must read and now in my top favorites.

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Cider Mill Pond Trail

With a little more than a week until Christmas I was itching to get outside and unwind. This afternoon my family and I took a walk around the Cider Mill Pond Trail in Brookline. I’m not sure if this is part of the Beaver Brook trail system, but some of the trails connect to the Beaver Brook Trails. The parking lot is located on Route 130 in Brookline. There is a decent parking lot, a picnic table and a kiosk.

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There is a series of trails that look like you could do several miles. We did almost a four mile loop with a couple side trails. The trail is pretty well marked. It looks like in the winter they allow snowmobiles so please use caution if you hike this in the winter. We started out on the Cider Mills Trail, which meanders through the forest with almost no elevation gain. The trails turns into the Sargent Trail. There are a few houses near the trail. There are also some pretty large water holes from all the rain we have had.

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Along with some cool rock formations that my daughter enjoyed.

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Off the Sargent Trail is a trail called Stone House Ledge Trail. I was a little curious about this trail due to the name. We started walking up a small incline. A little under a half a mile you come to an area with many larges rocks, some provide nice views of the forest below and other make a great climbing area for older kids.

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Some look like they have caves. My daughter loved climbing in and around the rocks. If you do this trail make sure you take this side trail and check out all the rocks as they are pretty cool.

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We headed back to Sargent Trail and looped back around going by two small ponds. One pond requires you to take small side trail to see it, but its a nice little swamp area where you could get a glance of a bird or a beaver.

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From you here you connect back to to the Cider Mill Trail and then onto the parking lot.

This is a great for beginners, hiking with dogs, hiking with kids or someone who just wants to get out into the woods for a couple hours.

Christmas at Tower Hill

Over the summer my family and I visited Tower Hill Botanical Garden and had an amazing time. When I saw they have a Christmas event, The Night Lights, I had to get tickets. This is an event that you need to buy tickets in advance as they sell out fast.

Over this past weekend we visited the gardens with friends. I was a little worried when we pulled in because the line of traffic was pretty long. After we showed our tickets at the gate and parked there was enough room to spread out and I did not feel too crowded. There is a sign stating they had over 200,000 lights on their property. I felt like I was walking through a winter wonderland.

The inside was decorated beautifully with various Christmas trees and decorations.

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Along with their beautiful plants.

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They handed out a map and the trails are marked with lights so you know where you can and cannot go.

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After we explored the inside and enjoyed some adult beverages and hot chocolate for the kids we ventured outside to enjoy the lights. My husband kept saying, “I can’t believe how many lights there are.”

We enjoyed walking through the the tunnel of lights.

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And into firefly forest. The picture does not show it, but there are lights everywhere in the forest simulating fireflies.

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Off to the side of the garden was a beautiful Christmas tree of lights. From here you are over looking the reservoir.

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We almost missed this section, but thanks to the kids scavenger hunt, the kids noticed they were missing something. These are located in the to the right of the entrance. This garden was very peaceful as there were very few people here.

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At the beginning or the end are these cool “flowers” that you must stop and enjoy.

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There is a lot of hard work that goes into these decorations and lights. We spend about two hours looking around. I was in awe as I did not think it would be this spectacular. This is a must to put on your holiday event list. There is also a small farm to table cafe, s’mores to roast over a fire in one of the gardens and a gift shop.

Darn Tough Socks

When I am hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing or any type of outdoor activity I want to be wearing good quality gear. There is no exception when it comes to my feet. I bought good quality boots, therefore I want good quality socks. I have tried various brands of hiking socks, but there is only one brand of socks that I trust due to comfort, quality and keeping my feet warm and dry in all various types of weather and activities.

Darn Tough Socks are made in Vermont and they truly stand behind their product. I brought my first pair of Darn Tough Socks about ten years ago. When you buy a pair the cashier should tell you that these socks are good for life.

Fast forward ten years, these socks have hiked, cross country skied and snowed shoed probably thousands of miles. A couple weeks ago I was putting my socks away and noticed a hole in the bottom of them. I was disappointment for sure. I only have one pair, as I have only needed one pair. My husband reminded me that I could take them to the store I bought them and they would refund them. I am always a little skeptical because it is hard to get things for free or find companies to stand behind their product.

I called EMS where I bought the socks and they told me to go on line and fill out the warranty form and Darn Tough will send me a new pair of socks. Still skeptical I went online, filled out the form and within a day or two I get an email back that I was getting a new pair of socks. They provided me with a coupon code and an address to send the old pair of socks back to them. I ordered my new socks and quickly got to the post office to mail my old ones. Three to four business days later I had my new socks in the mail.

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Now I have a brand new pair of socks for hopefully another ten year. My feet are comfortable and happy. I will continue to only buy Darn Tough socks for my outdoor activities.

Katahdin Area Trail System

We spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family in Millinocket, Maine, where I was fortunate to grown up. Since we are having more snow than normal this time of year we were anxious to get our cross country skis out. The day after Thanksgiving is REI’s #OptOutside Day, since I was finally not working this year I could participate in the “holiday.”

Since the Katahdin Region provides a host of trails and opportunities to cross country ski it was difficulty to figure out where we wanted to go and which ones would be groomed. With the help of someone my friends through social media I learned that the Katahdin Area Trails at New England Outdoors Center on Millinocket Lake were recently groomed so my husband, daughter and I decided to check them out.

Located about ten miles north of Millinocket off the Black Cat Road is New England Outdoors Center which offers an array of outdoor activities throughout the year. The have recently added a trail system that is open to cross country skiers in the snowy months.

There is parking lot across the street from the Lodge with a sign and map to mark the start of the trail system. You can also go inside the Lodge and get a copy to take with you. Rentals are available if needed. I also saw someone giving lessons.

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With it being the beginning of the snow season there were only a few trails open, it was plenty for what we wanted to do. I wanted to do the Katahdin View loop as I heard the views were amazing from that trail, but it looked a little too difficult for our nine year old daughter and the trail was not groomed. Instead we did part of the Twin Pines Loop to the Lake Side Trail Loop.

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The trails are very well groomed. There are no set classic cross country ski tracks, I am not sure if that changes as the season goes on. We did not have any trouble and we able to get a nice glide throughout the trails. The trails that we took provide some glimpses of Mt. Katahdin as well as some beautify forest scenery.

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The two trails that we took were marked as easy, but I would classify them more as moderate as there were some fairly steep hills with turns on them. A couple of them my daughter had to walk down. I was able to do them, but with some challenge, luckily I did not fall.

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The loop we did was a little under four miles. I really enjoyed the ski. The trails were well marked with maps at every intersection. The best part is the trails were free. I would absolutely ski these trails again and recommend others check them out while they are in the area.

After the ski you can either grab some delicious food at the restaurant or walk down to the lake to enjoy the beautiful view. of Mt. Katahdin.

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Widow Gage Town Trail

Located a mile past Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam is a nice two mile hike through the forrest around stone walls, a large cellar whole and around the edge of a pond.

I love when I can find a hiking trail that has a nice parking lot and Widow Gage Town Trail is one of them. The parking lot is large enough to park several cars which is nice when you are planning group hikes.

There is a small kiosk with maps to take with you. You can grab one, but the trail is well marked. There are two loops. The blue loop and the red loop. Both marked with trail markers of the color of the trail. If you do both loops it is about a total of two miles. Which is what I did the day I hiked it.

Like a lot of trails in New Hampshire there is an abundance of stone walls. Some of them seem very large. I always wonder how long it took the builder as I know most of them are very long. There is a book title, Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls, that talks about the history of New Englands Stone Walls. I have not read the book myself, but have had people tell me they enjoyed the book.

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When you get close to the pond there is a fairly large cellar hole. This was one of the biggest ones I have seen in the area. It make me curious to know what was here. The kids I was hiking with loved the cellar hole. I did notice a lot of beer bottles and cans so be cautious of broken glass if your kids are in the cellar hole. Also remember this is a part of New Hampshires history so make sure they are using caution not to disturb the rocks if they do go into the hole.

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The last part of the loop before you head back to the parking lot is a beautiful views of a pond. I am not sure if this is always a pond or a swamp. It was hard to tell because of all the rain we have had lately.

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There were a couple different view points of the pond.

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Overall, this is a great hike for beginners as the trail is easy to follow. There is minimal incline, more up and down small hills and some beautiful scenery. The kids that I had on the hike enjoyed exploring the various streams along the trail, again I do not know if they were just there because of the large amounts of rain we have had or if they are always there. Put this on your list of trails to check out.

This post contains affiliate links for which I may receive a small amount of compensation at no cost to you.