Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pawtuckaway in Winter

Beautiful Snowy Day Hike!
Looking for a mountain view in Southern New Hampshire?  Go no further than Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham, New Hampshire.  This 5,000 acre preserve is located just 38 miles from Boston.  Matt and I drive the 20 minutes from Exeter to this local hike.  We took Rt 156 to the Mountain Road entrance.  After parking in the snowy parking lot, we walked down the unplowed road to the Mountain Trail.  Hiking past frozen ponds and hardwood forests, we made tracks to the South Ridge trail where we turned right to reach the summit of South Mountain (908 feet) and fire tower.  Here is how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure:  Pawtuckaway South Mountain snow hike

Getting there: From Exeter, NH, I took Highway 101 East to Exit 5.  Take 156/102/107 toward Nottingham.  Turn left on Nottingham Rd/156-N and turn left on Mountain Road.  Look for signs for the Pawtuckaway State Park Visitor Center.

Trail: We hiked the 6 mile out and back up to the South Mountain peak (908') from the visitor center.  Take the Mountain Trail to the South Ridge Trail right towards the fire tower and summit. The trail is mostly flat with the last mile a moderate scramble to the summit.  Prior to the fire tower you will get a open view of the valley below as well as another partial view from the fire tower summit.

Difficulty:  Easy to Moderate - The trail in snow was easy for 90% of the hike.  With little to no traction, we easily walked the flat and wide trail towards the peak.  The last mile, I used my micro-spikes to scramble the moderate climb.  Matt did fine without, but it took a little more effort.  We met a few other hikers using snow shoes, but the trail was packed enough to go without.  This is a great option for first time snow hikers or families.

Distance: 6 miles round trip, 2-2.5 hours

- Pick up a complementary trail map from the parking lot.
- Bring a simple traction for the last mile that you can keep in your pack (micro spikes or yak trax).
- Dress in non cotton layers that can be shed when you get hot.
- Pack water, snack, waterproof snow boots (I wear LL Bean snow boots), and a cell phone.

Matt and I had a great adventure hiking up the local Pawtuckaway State Park.  I can't wait to go back and explore some more!

Please leave comments and question below....