Porcupine Falls

When I was recently visiting Distance Hill Nature Trails, we had the opportunity to speak with the owner.  We were talking about local trails in the area and he told me about a local waterfall. I have a huge love of Waterfalls, so when I can find one in the Monadnock area, I have to check it out.  


 Porcupine Falls is located in Gilsum and is part of the Monadnock Conservancy.  The trail head is located off of Route 10 on White Brook Road.  You follow the dirt road to the end, where there is a small parking lot.  There is a kiosk with trail information at the trail head.  It is a little under a half mile to the falls.  The trail is well marked and there are some bridges and boardwalks that appear fairly new.  


Since we had had rain the day before we visited, there was a nice water flow.  My guess is that the falls sometimes dries up depending on the amount of rainfall we have had.  The best time to visit would be in the spring or after a heavy rainfall.  There is a nice pool a little bit downstream from the falls that could be a good opportunity for cooling off.  It is also easy access to get under the waterfall if you want to get a nice natural shower.


Since it is a short trail I would recommend checking our other trails while in the area like Bears Den.    

Distant Hill Nature Trail

I get asked frequently if I know of any stroller friendly walking paths. I usually am repeating myself with either the local paved rail trails or the handicap accessible trails at Crotched Mountain.  I am happy to announce that I have another local stroller/handicap accessible walking path.  


Located on March Hill Road in Alstead is well maintained set of trails that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy.  I first discovered this place as it was named in the top 10 boardwalks to check out in New Hampshire and since we were already in the area heading to Hungry Diner, a must stop for lunch, we decided to check out these trails.

There is two sections to this area, the  Distant Hill Nature Trail, which are open daily. The Distant Hill Gardens which is actually located in Walpole, right next to the trails. They are only open on certain days and for special events so check out there Facebook Page for more information.   

The boardwalk itself is not very big or long, but it is built in a way that you feel like you are walking on top of the blog, which is really cool.


 The trails are the most impressive part, my husband kept saying, "wow, a lot of work went into make these, they are really nice." My husband is not easily impressed. At this time there is about a mile of trails, with plans to expand.   


There is also a children's nature playground, if you have followed me long enough to know that I love a good natures playground.  There is just enough structures here to keep kids entertained, but to also allow their imagination to wonder within the woods.  


There are also vernal pools with signage.


We only walked about a mile of the trail, but felt we could have spent a good few hours exploring the grounds, especially when the gardens are opened.  We did run into the owner, who was very friendly and explained he was trying to model his trails after the Crotched Mountain Accessible Trails, after he had taken a workshop with them.  I feel he is off to a great start.  If you are looking for a great way to spend an afternoon outside, Distant Hill Gardens in Walpole is a great place to explore.   


Mt Caesar

As I have said in many previous posts, I love learning of new trails to explore.  A friend of mine recently told me about Mt. Caesar located in Swanzey and I was excited to check it out.  The trailhead is a little difficult to find.  It is located off of Old Homestead Highway/Route 32 across from Monadnock High School on a small road, Simeneau Lane.  On this road is a small Assisted Living Facility and the road loops around to a cemetery.  Between the cemetery and the Assisted Living facility is a small parking lot and the trailhead.  


The trail follows a stone walls and the edge of the cemetary before heading off into the woods continuing to follow the stone wall and into a small field where you will see a small kiosk. From here you follow an old logging road about a half mile.  Then there is a fork in the trail, where the trail veers left, there is a sign nailed to a tree directing you to the top of the mountain.  The first part of the trail was fairly wet after a recent rain fall, so make sure you have appropriate footwear. Another half mile and you are at the top.  Once at the top there is a decent view of the area.  Off to the left is a lookout path to a ledge with better views of the area and Mt. Monadnock.  


Roundtrip the trail is about two miles.  It is a gradual incline to the top, making it the perfect hike for young families or those beginner hikers who want to get a beautiful view.  


Mines Falls Park

Spring time always brings an array of activities and goals for my family and I.  It never fails that spring sports and home ownership duties usually take over leaving little opportunity for exploring and outdoor activities which remains true for this spring.  Today, while running errands in Nashua I got the urge to get a little walk in, so we stopped and walked a few miles around Mines Falls Park.  


A good portion of my husbands childhood was spent growing up in Nashua near these trails, so he did a lot of reminiscing while we got a couple miles in between errands.  I also spent a few years while in collage in Nashua, but did not frequent the trails as it was always rumored to not be the safest place, I believe over the years that has changed.


There are about 10 miles of trails around the park, with various access points.  Today, we parked at Lincoln Park at the end of Coliseum Ave, past Hannaford in Nashua.  We did about a two and a half mile loop up to Mines Falls and along the Mills Ponds and Nashua Power Canal back to Lincoln Park.  The trail is very well maintained with people of all ages using the trails for various activities such as walking, running and bike riding.  We also saw some people fishing in various spots.  There was also some animal spotting of muskrats and birds.  My husband remembered it was always a great place to spot various sized turtles.   


I felt very comfortable and safe walking along the trail and would absolutely walk these trails during the day alone, (always use your own judgement when walking a trail). I was also very impressed by the scenery for being in the middle of Nashua.   


Next time I am in Nashua and need to get in a few miles outside, I will absolutely be stopping here again.   


Sheldrick Forest

Located in Wilton, NH is a wonderful trail system that goes over bridges, follows streams and up and down rolling forest hills.  Sheldrick Forest is a great set of trails if you are looking to get out for a couple hours of easy hiking.  With the rolling hills and steep embankments, this may not be the best place for young children, but it is great for older children. There are about three miles of trails through Sheldrick Forest with the option of connecting to more trails at the Heald Track. I love how the trail has a couple different loops and also follows some streams so in the wet season you can enjoy the sound of a bubbling brook.  


The trail is location on Town Farm Road in Wilton.  From Rt 101 turn onto Temple Road next to Oliver's Restaurant, after you got about .3 miles and cross a small bridge turn left onto Town Farm Road. The trail is about .7 miles on the left.  The road is dirt so travel with caution.  For additional trail information click here.    


Evans Flat Trail

If you have looked at my website or read my blog you know I am always looking for new trails in the Monadnock Region.  When I was looking for an easy, short after work hike for my hiking group. I was again surprised to learn of a new trail close to the downtown area of Peterborough. The Evan's Flat trail is located at the end of Evans Road in Peterborough, NH.  When first looking at this trail I questioned it because I knew there were houses and stores near by and wondered what kind of a trail and how woodsy it would be.  


I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty in this trail. You park on the side of the cul-de-sac, and there is a trail kiosk with information and a map.  Dogs are not allowed on the trail.  The trail has several boards that go over various streams and wet areas. The boards are loose so be careful when crossing them.  The trail is fairly flat and meanders through the woods and around the edge of a couple marsh areas, it does cross a power line and have a small incline.  The trail is about a 1.6 miles loop with the option of a cut off trail if you do not want to do the full loop.


This is a great trail if you are looking to get in a quick hike without a long drive or for children as they always find running across boards fun.  


Lake Potanipo Walking Path


Located of Routine 13 in Brookline, New Hampshire is a charming little lake allowing an array of activities.  Lake Potanipo is popular year round spot.  In the winter it is frequented with snowmobiles and ice fisherman. In the summer swimmers and boaters.  There is also a a summer camp, Camp Tevya.  In the summer the beach is for residents only.  

I was recently looking for an easy walk through the woods that I had not done and never realized there was a path that went along the edge of the lake.  There is a small parking lot on the corner of Rt 13 and Mason Road.  Also located here is a rail trail that is dirt.  We did see a couple people mountain biking while we were walking.  


The trail starts across the road from the parking lot.  You do have to walk through Camp Tevya, if you have a dog make sure you clean up after them.  After walking through the camp you walk along the rail trail that eventually leads to the center of Milford.  There is a couple signs pointing out some information.  There is evidence of an old ice house, which was kind of cool to see.  


The trail does veer off to the left while the rail trail goes towards the right.  The trail takes you to a little point with a nice view of the lake.  It was about a three mile round trip. The trail is flat perfect for young children or someone who wants an easy walk.  


Windblown Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center

Located on 1180 Turnpike Road, in New Ipswich is a wonderful family owned cross country ski and snowshoe center.  If you are looking for a great day of skiing or snowshoeing then Windblown is a must for outdoor lovers or those wanting to learn to ski or snowshoe.  They have trails for all abilities from beginners to experts and young to old.  If you need to feel more confident about your skiing skills lessons are available.  


Are you looking to step up your outdoor game.  They have a small hut and lean-too's that can be rented year round.  I have not stayed in one of the shelters, but it is on my to do list.  What I have heard from people who have stayed there, is that it is a great experience.  


My family and I spend a good amount of time at Windblown.  The trails are always well groomed and easy to navigate. The staff are friendly and eager to answer any questions you may have. We also like that the terrain is varied, we can get in a nice flat ski or if we want a little more challenge there are plenty of various size hills throughout the property.  Last but certainly not least, there are some pretty amazing views around the property.  My favorite is the view of Mt. Monadnock from The View Fields.


We can spend multiple hours exploring the trials with plenty of opportunities at the various shelters to stop for a break.  If you are looking for a nice treat you can head back to the lodge for a hot drink and a yummy cookie or lunch.  

Anyone looking to get out and enjoy some winter fun make sure Windblown is one of your winter destinations.  


Diana's Bath

Located on West Side Road in Bartlett, NH, is a little gem of a hiking trail in the White Mountains. Diana's Bath is a really special place to my husband and I.  When we were dating we spent many weekends in the North Conway area and would frequent Diana's Bath, especially on warm days.  Fifteen years ago this October, my now husband took me to Diana's Bath to propose to me.  Whenever we are in the area, we like to stop to reminisce about that moment.  


The trail is a little under a mile up to the waterfall, from there, there are other trails that continue past the falls.  The trail to the waterfall is fairly flat, making this a really easy trail to walk and great for beginner hikers or families wanting to get out for hike with a fun reward in the end. One of the best part of the falls is there are plenty of opportunities on a warm day to get wet and play around in the falls. If you plan to visit on a warm day just keep in mind it can get very crowded.  The falls are also fun to visit in the off season as waterfalls a very beautiful with fresh snow or when they have started to freeze.  Remember always use caution when playing in and around waterfalls as the rock can be slippery resulting in injury.  


Crotched Mountain Rehab Trails

Located on Crotched Mountain Road across from the entrance to Crotched Mountain Rehab Center in Greenfield is a parking area and access to some great hiking trails for families with young children.  There are two hiking trails at Crotched Mountain Trails, as well as other trails that lead up to the top of Crotched Mountain, which you can read about in my Crotched Mountain post. I love these trails because they are stroller and wheelchair accessible and great for little legs that may still be a little wobbly because the trails are flat and free of roots.  


The Dutton Brook Trail is a two mile loop and has a observation deck overlooking a marshy area.  It has been over a year since I have been there, but the last time I was there, there was a storybook along the trail.  A storybook trail is where you walk along and read a page of a story posted on the trail.  My daughter has loved storybook trails since she started to read.  It is also great motivation to keep kids moving on the trail.  


The Gregg Trail is a series of switchbacks, up to a lookout with a panoramic view. There is an observation deck at the lookout. The trail is a little over a mile and a half round trip. I have not personally been on this trail, but have heard that its a nice little hike with a pretty view.    

I love these trails because they are one of the most family friendly trails in the area and great for beginner hikers.   


Exploring Cathedral of the Pines

I love when I get to explore new trails in the Monadnock Region.  A friend recently told me about the hiking trails at the Cathedral of the Pines located at 10 Hale Hill Road in Rindge, New Hampshire.  I have been there a couple times, but never on the hiking trails.  This morning I did an impromptu hike with my Hike Like a Woman Hiking Group, to check out the trails.  We parked in the parking lot and when looking at the cathedral, the trailheads are located down a small hill to the left.  From there are a few trails you can access.  To the right is Grassy Pond and Stearns Upton Family Trail near Grassy Pond.  To the left is the Podunk and Shaw Loop near Emerson Pond.  

 Grassy Pond 

Grassy Pond 

We started our hike by heading towards Grassy Pond with the goal to go around the Stearns Upton loop, but some how I missed the trail to the Stearns Upton Loop and we ended up at the outdoor cathedral.  Just proof that hiking never goes as planned. After enjoying the views we decided to check out the Podunk Trail that goes through the woods and along Emerson Pond.  This trail was a lot easier to follow.   We were all laughing because we encountered various kinds of trail conditions of ice, snow, mud, water, the heat of the sun and the trail being dry all in February.  If you decide to hike when there has been some melting wear waterproof boots as your feet could get wet.  

 Emerson Pond 

Emerson Pond 

Today we did about three miles, but I am excited to go back and explore the trails more.  The trails meander up and down some hill, nothing too steep.  The Grassy Pond Trail is a great one for kids.  There are benches in various places.  Foot bridges help avoid some wet areas. Overall this is a great trail for beginner hikers or families. 


Furnace Brook Trail


Located near the Souhegan Ambulance and at the base of Old Tenney Road in New Ipswich is a nice little path that follows Furnace Brook.  The trail was donated by a family that lives in New Ipswich.  The path starts out going down into the woods along the stream to the base of a small waterfall and part of an old rock wall.  This is a perfect spot to let your dog get a swim in if there is enough water.  Then the trail continues down along the stream for about a mile.  There is a snowmobile bridge that goes off to your left and a field on your right, both which are private property. This is a trail that you walk to the snowmobile trail and field and then turn around and walk back. The last time I was on the trail, in 2017, there were a lot of blowdowns  I'm not sure if anyone maintains the trail anymore.  If you are up for exploring the trail, I recommend long pants as there are some trees with thorns and some blowdowns the climb over.  

Federal Hill Fire Tower


Every since I was a young child I have always loved fire towers. The thrill of climbing up to the a tower and the beautiful panoramic views. Growing up in Northern Maine I had access to some pretty good ones.  There are also some great ones in Southern New Hampshire.  

Federall Hill Fire Tower in Milford, NH is a fun one.  The trail head is located on Ponemah Hill Road in Milford.  The access road is gated so you need to park nearby and walk up.  It is about a half mile walk up to the fire tower.  There are beautiful views of Southern NH and the Monadnock Region.  Always use caution when climbing a fire tower to ensure your safety.  I have observed a lot of broken glass around the area in the past. If you are bringing your dog on the trail, please use caution.  

This is a good fire tower to do if you are working on your Fire Tower Quest Patch.  


HighBridge Hill Storybook Trail

I am always trying to find ways to engage my daughter to get outside.  One of her favorite type of trails are storybook trails.  I mean, what’s better than encouraging your child to read all while getting fresh air and exercise. 

At HighBridge Hill Elementary School in New Ipswich is a great little storybook Trail.  The trail is open spring, summer and fall, but closed during the winter months. The trail is about .6 miles long. When you turn into Highbridge Hill Elementary School, take a right to drive up towards the fields.  There is a parking lot on top of the hill.  There is a small clump of trees and that is where the trail starts.  From here it is a little confusing, but it goes across the road you drove in on down into the woods.  The trail is easy to follow from there.  You do walk by the schools playground, in case you have a child that is easily distracted by playgrounds. A great way to get your little ones out on the trail. The trail is not stroller friendly.   


Andres Institute of Art

More times than I care to admit I have come across a new trail that has been right under my nose, or hiking boots, for a while and did not know it existed, which I feel slightly embarrassed about, but hey nobody's perfect.    

I have lived in Southern New Hampshire for over 12 years now and have driven by this little sign for Andres Institute of Art on Rt 101 in Milford thousands of times and never really thought twice about what it was.  I do not recall what made me check out the hiking trails the first time, but I'm disappointment in myself that it took so long to explore them. 

A couple summers ago my family and I started exploring the trails and sculptures around the institute.  Can I tell you what an amazing place this is.  Located on the side of an old ski mountain, Big Bear Mountain, Paul Andres purchased the land in 1996. Per their website, their mission is, “Andres Institute of Art shall serve and advance the intellectual and social well being of the public by educating and training artists, by promoting the integration of art and technology, and by supporting fine arts.” 


I am not sure of how many miles of trails are located at the instute, but the day my family and I visited we spend 2 hours exploring the trails and sculptures and did not see everything.  The sculptures are amazing and you can tell a lot of time and dedication when into making them and setting up the institute.  


Once at the top of the mountain there is a beautiful view looking toward the Wapack Range and Mt Monadnock.  My daughter was engaged and generally interested the whole hike, which is huge when hiking with a young child.   

This is a great hike for groups and families.  Do keep in mind that sections of the trails are steep, but you can take an easier trail is you wished.  The trailhead is located off Rt 13 in Brookline. 


Loverens Mills Cedar Swamp

When you have hiked a certain area so much it can be hard to find new hiking trails.  This is when I turn to my hiking community to look for new ideas.  A good friend and I are constantly brain storming ideas of where to do the next group hike.  This past weekends group hike was thanks my good friend and hiking group member, Molly.  

 How cute is Molly's hat, she won it as part of a raffle at my last presentation.  If you would like one for yourself head on over to the  Shop  at Hike Like a Woman 

How cute is Molly's hat, she won it as part of a raffle at my last presentation.  If you would like one for yourself head on over to the Shop at Hike Like a Woman 

I have recently learned that Antrim has multiple hiking trails.  I am excited to explore some new trails in this area.  For my last Hike Like a WomanHiking Group Hike we a wonderful experience at Loverens Mills Cedar Swamp trails.  Fun fact: "Atlantic white cedar swamps are rare in New Hampshire, comprising only about one percent of the state’s wetlands. Loverens Mills Cedar Swamp is the second largest and considered the highest quality boreal cedar swamp in New Hampshire." Courtesy of the Nature Conservancy Website.  

We did the Lovererns Mills Loop trail and a side trail to the look out.  We did not do the Cedar Swamp Boardwalk because I was worried the boardwalk would be too icy and I wanted to go back in the spring or summer when it is supposedly covered in moss and a magical experience.  From the parking lot we walked up and old road along an old mill and dam site  With the recent rains and snow melt the river was rushing provided a relaxing sound and a beautiful sight.  


After walking a few hundred feet the trail starts to the right.  The trail was fairly easy to follow due to the trail markers.  There was only one place that we had difficulty finding the next trail marker, but were able to figure it out quickly.  The trail is fairlt flat with some gradual up and downs.  The trail goes along the river for a few minutes giving you the opportunity to enjoy the water.  The Lookout Point overlooks the rivers and local ridgelines .  


The total hike was about 3.5 miles and took the group about 2 hours.  Due to the length and various up and downs of the trail. I would recommend this trail to older kids and people who have some hiking experience. 


White Ledges

Off of Rt 45 in Temple, New Hampshire on Howard Hill Road is a little hidden gem.  About a mile down the road on the left is a gated dirt road.  Park anywhere along the road and walk up the road to another gate and continue up to the white ledge.  The trail is little under a half mile. There has been some logging off the first part of the road so make sure you continue straight to stay on the trail. The good size out cropping of white rock is such a fun place for kids to climb and explore.  There is also a decent review looking towards Wilton, Milford, Manchester and Nashua.  This trail is good for children, families and beginner hikers.   


Pitcher Mountain

2018 has started out with some crazy weather.  It has  limited my family and my ability to get the outside time we truly love and need.  Despite this morning temperatures being in the teens, I still wanted to get out on a trail for about an hours.  

My daughter and I have been working on the Fire Tower, Tower Quest Challenge to earn a patch.  Since we were looking for a relatively short trail with some views, we decided to check one of the local fire towers off the list.  

Pitcher Mountain is located on Route 123 in Stoddard, NH.  There is a small parking lot and the options of two trails up to the firepower.  Every time we have visited we have always taken the old  road up to the top, we have never done the loop.  The old road is a little rocky, just be cautious of your footing.  With it being January 14th and after a thaw and rainstorm the trail was a little icy.  We were able to walk most of the trail without any issue or the need for stable icers.  


It was a little under a half mile to the top where the fire tower is. I love the views from the top because you can see Mount Monadnock and into the ski mountains of Vermont on a clear day.  I'm not exactly sure how far you can see, but it seems pretty far and for little effort the views are breathtaking.


This time of year the fire tower is locked as there is no one working there.  The last time I was there in the summer there as a fire tower watch person working.  They were a wealth of knowledge of the various landmarks you can see from the tower.  


This trail is great for children, families, beginner hikers and those just wanted to get out for a quick hike with a great view.    

Shieling Forest Trail

Located on Old Street Road in Peterborough, close to Monadnock Community Hospital is a great little trail system for families and people looking to get in an easy or short hike.  The trails are easy and you guys do all of them in less than two hours.  I like this trail for kids because there is a stream, bridges and large rocks all for exploring.  The trails are also relatively flat so easy for little legs or people who want to get out for an easy hike.  Sometimes the trails are closed so make sure you read the sign out front before exploring the trails.  


First Day Hike around Gilson Pond

This years New Years Day brought sub zero temperatures to New Hampshire.  I had planned a First Day Hike for my hiking group, but contemplated canceling it due to the weather.  I had a couple people who had RSVP and thought, if they are willing to come out in these frigid temps, then so am I. To my surprise I had four dedicated women show up to hike around Gilson Pond, at the Campground for Monadnock State Park.

There are several trails around the campground and park with many that lead up to Mount Monadnock. With the cold temperatures I wanted to do an easy quick hike, so we did the roughly mile and half around Gilson Pond from the parking lot.  Just remember if you go when the park is open you do have to pay a day use fee to use the trails.

The pond trail around Gilson Pond is a great little hike or snowshoe this time of year. The trail is easy and well marked.  It takes you around the pond and provides partial views of Mount Monadnock and various views of the pond.  I did observe cross country ski tracks on the trail, but as someone who ski's I feel you would have to be a decent cross country skier to ski on this trail due to the trees and curves in the trail.


Despite the cold it was nice to get back on the trail after the holidays and reconnect with my hiking group ladies. We were all dressed appropriately and had warm hands thanks to a group member bringing hand warmers. Due to the movement of the hike we were warm and were not bothered by the cold air.       


This is a great trail for year round hiking, beginner hikers, those who just want to get out for about an hour and families.  To access the trail, park in the parking lot for Monadnock State Park/Gilson Pond Campground across from Thorndike Pond Beach on Dublin Road in Jaffrey, NH. Walk up   the road past the gate house, down a small hill and you will see the pond in front of you.  There is a small trail sign, "Pond Trail,"  follow the trail markers around the pond and you will end where you started.