Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Stonehouse Pond Loop

Stonehouse Pond and 150 foot cliff face.
My parents were in town visiting last weekend from Oregon.  When I asked my mom what she wanted to do for the day, she replied, "I don't know.  Walk around a pond or something?"  Matt new the perfect place to go on a summer day - Stonehouse Pond in Barrington, New Hampshire.  
Matt is very familiar with this piece of NH Fish and Game property because he has frequently climbed and ice-climbed the 150 foot granite cliff on the far shore.  It's also a well known spot for anglers as it is stocked with brook trout.  The hike around the pond is a short one (my guess is about a mile) and provides views of the pond and surrounding area from the top of the cliff.  It was just what my mom was looking for and we all enjoyed this local little hike.
View from top of Stonehouse Pond Cliff
Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure:  Stonehouse Pond Loop Hike in Barrington, New Hampshire
Sign from Route 9/202

Getting there:  The Pond is located on Route 9/Route 202.  From the Lee Traffic Circle, take Route 4- East for seven miles.  Take a right onto Cooper Hill Road.  After about a mile it will connect to 202 East.  Turn right onto 202 East.  After a mile, turn right onto the dirt road.  There is a large wooden sign marking STONEHOUSE POND.  Drive to the end of the dirt road where there is a parking area.  There is no cost to park and no bathroom facilities available at the trailhead.  Stonehouse Pond can be found using an iPhone or Google Maps as well.

Matt checks out the view on our hike.
Trail:  Unfortuantely, the trail is not well signed or marked.  There are many footpaths, offshoots,
and choices when going around the pond.  It's sort of a choose-your-own-adventure.  We stuck to the most well worn trails, keeping the pond always at our right.  The trail is fairly easy until you start "climbing" to the cliff.  Here, the trail got steep and uneven.  After about a half mile, we emerged at the top of the cliff.  **Be careful not to throw rocks or objects off since it is both a popular climbing and swimming area below!

After enjoying the view, we again had to choose a trail to decend.  Our first choice turned out to be quite steep so we returned to the top and then hiked down another one.  I could see it being easy to get a little lost since non of the trails are signed or blazed.  Take are to look for landmarks and give yourself plenty of time and provisions to return.

Difficulty:  Moderate.  There are some steep areas when climbing up and down the cliff.  Because of the numerous trails, it's possible to take a steeper or more challenging trail.

Distance: About 1 mile loop.

Enjoying the view from the summit of the cliff.

- Even though this is a short hike, bring proper hiking footwear and provisions (water, snack, and rain gear).  

- Take care around the cliff.  Do not through objects from the top.  The cliff face is a popular climbing spot and there could also be swimmers or boats below.

- There are no bathrooms or water at the trail.  Plan accordingly.

- The dirt road to the parking lot is covered in deep pot holes and can be difficult terrain.  Take care!

"Walking around a pond" was the perfect family weekend activity and Stonehouse Pond was the perfect place to do it.  On the way home, we stopped at Calef's Country Store  on Rt 9/125 intersection for a giant pickle and Moxie. What is more New England than that?

Three Generation Selfie at Stonehouse Pond
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Winnie the Pooh Trail - Perfect for the little ones

Views from parking area at Winnie the Pooh Trail
I heard about the Winnie-the-Pooh trail in Barrington, New Hampshire a few years ago.  Without kids at the time, I didn't have an incentive to visit the child-focused interpretive trail.  Now that many of my friends have traded their subarus for minivans, it wasn't hard to find a friend to explore the trail with a toddler.  The well signed and maintained nature path turned out to be the perfect way to spend a summer morning.  The visit to the hundred acre wood and the "homes" of Pooh and his friends kept the interest of the two-year-old and the my friend Courtney and I enjoyed the views and hike.

Sign from Route 9
Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure:  Winnie the Pooh Trail in Barrington, New Hampshire

Getting there:  The Winnie the Pooh Trial is located on Goodwill Conservation Land in Barrington, New Hampshire.  To get there from Rochester, New Hampshire - take Route 125 South to Route 9.  Take a right on Route 9.  The parking area for the trail is located about 1.5 miles down Route 9 on the left.  There is a sign marking "Goodwill Conservation Area" but it was hidden behind trees.  Drive slow and look for Richardson street.  It's right after.  Parking is free and there are no facilities at the trailhead.

Trail Map
Our little hiker visits Piglet's house!
Trail:  The trail sign at the parking area provides a signed trail map.  The Winnie-the-Pooh trail is marked by white blazes.  It's well designed so that every 20-50 feet, there is a new "stop" for children.  From the parking lot, you'll see a beautiful pond.  Cross the stream on the bridge and start traveling to the "homes" of Pooh's friends.  Our first stop was Christopher Robin's house.  There is a child-sized door nailed to a tree.  Courtney's son enjoyed knocking on the door to see if he was home.  We decided it was such a nice day, he must be out playing with friends!  The walk continues, visiting characters and scenes from the Winnie-the-Pooh trail.  Although our toddler wasn't familiar with the story, he still enjoyed visiting site to site.  At the end of the trail, you reach Pooh's house with three "honey jars" up on a rock.  The little guy loved climbing the rock to the jars. We decided to return the same way, although according to the trail, it looks like we could have taking the Goodwill trail back.

The actual trail had an easy, soft terrain with a few roots and rocks.  We saw other families and children on our walk back.  Although the mileage wasn't marked or posted, I'd estimate it was about a mile out and back.

Knocking on Christopher Robin's door.
Difficulty: Easy - our two-year-old hiker handled it just fine!
Pooh's Honey Jars


- There are no bathrooms or water at the trail head.  Bring water, snacks, and rain gear.

- I have had a friend try to return on the Goodwill trail and end up getting lost.  I recommend taking a photo of the trail map with your phone and be careful to follow the signs and blazes.

- Parking is free.  We showed up at 9 am on a Thursday and were the only ones in the parking lot. When we left at 10 am, there were four cars.  I'm not sure how crowded it gets on weekends.

Signs for trail
Even though the trail was easy and short, I still enjoyed getting outside and the scenic pond and forest views. I look forward to enjoying this trail again in a few years when Lucien is old enough to walk it!

You might also enjoy these adventures:

- 3 Family Friendly Nights in Acadia National Park  

- MacWorth Island - Easy Family Trail with Beach, Forest, and Fairies!

- Winter Walk on Gonic Trails

Baby Lucien loved the Winnie the Pooh hike!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sisters Wilderness - Green Lakes Trail near Bend

Waterfall off spur on Green Lakes Trail
On my recent Oregon trip, I was lucky enough to spend three nights outside of Bend.  My family rented a beautiful home on the Deschutes river.  We spent most of the time sitting on the porch, watching the lazy river take tubers and paddlers by our deck, and sipping on a glass of wine.  It wouldn't be a real Freelance Adventurer vacation, however, without a sturdy hike.  This time I went with my parents, husband, and baby to hike the Green Lakes Trail.  This 9.3 mile out-and-back trail was a little too much for a 90 F afternoon, but we did enjoy over two miles in with views of river, waterfalls, and mountains which made the perfect hike.

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure:  Half Way Up the Green Lakes Trail (and back).

Getting there: The Green Lakes Trailhead is located 27 miles west of Bend on Century Drive.  It has a large parking lot (and overflow lot) but the lot is not marked.  There is an outhouse and well marked trailhead at the end of the parking lot.  Visitors must have a national forest parking pass.

Trail: The trail starts from the parking lot.  There is a sign that marks the way.  We initially crossed Fall Creek on a log bridge and then steadily walked uphill.  The moderate trail was dusty and graded.  There were few obstacles.  It winds through a pine forest and stays parallel to the river.  After about 30 minutes of walking (maybe 0.5-1 mile up), we took a spur path on the right to see an impressive waterfall.  The spur was not marked, but listen for the water noise increase (it wasn't visible from the trail).  The steep 50 ft spur trail takes you down to the base of the falls.  The spray felt AMAZING on the hot day.  Continuing back up, we reached the intersection of Moraine and Green Lake Trail at 2 miles.  We went a little further and were rewarded with views of a meadow, wildflowers and nice views of Broken Top Mountain.  After a water and snack break we decided to head back.  All-in-all I think we did about 5-6 miles.  It was a wonderful hike and I'd love to go back and make it to the lakes!

Horses and Dogs are allowed on the trail.

Log Bridge at start of trail
Difficulty:  Moderate


- Bring lots of water!  We traveled on a July day that started in the 60s and ended in the high 90s.  It was dry and hot!  There was no water available for refill at the trailhead.

- Get to the trailhead early.  It was a popular hike and even at 10 am the parking lot was packed.

- Dogs and horses are allowed.

We loved our family hike with three generations!  It was a great way to enjoy central Oregon Cascade views and get outside!

Fall Creek and South Sister in the Background
View of Broken Top Mountain

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Crossing another log bridge

- Crossing the Cascades

- Oregon Coast Day Trip

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- Portland, Oregon - Bikes, Beers, and Baristas

Fall Creek Cowboy