Tuesday, September 17, 2019

WM Gonic Trails - River Views and Waterfalls

I've blogged this one before. The Gonic Trails on the Waste Management land in Gonic (Rochester), New Hampshire is probably my most hiked trail in the Seacoast.  It's about 5 minutes from my house and provides river and waterfall views, easy to moderate walking, and limited mileage - perfect for a quick after work dog walk or Saturday family morning stroll.  I also love doing it as a winter hike or snowshoe.  After posting photos of it on my Instagram stories this week, I realized that the only post I had about it was for deep snow and winter walks.  It's a slightly different experience when there's no snow on the ground.

Waterfall views on the Gonic Trail.

Here's how to recreate this adventure:

Adventure: WM Gonic Trails in Summer/Fall

Getting there:  The main parking lot for this trail is located on Rochester Neck Road.  Take Rt 125 to Rochester Neck Road (across from 1st City Motors Auto Dealer).  The parking lot is located on the right about 0.7 miles down Rochester Neck Rd.  Park in the gravel lot.  There is a sign in the parking lot that says WM Trails.  Parking is free but there are no restrooms.
Trail Sign in parking lot (with map)
Trail: There are three trails in this system - blue, red, and yellow.  There are multiple opportunities to take a loop (see map).  My favorite is to start by taking the yellow trail toward the waterfall.  When facing the parking lot from the road, this trail starts to the far right.  This path is wide and easy.  It travels through hemlock forest on the outskirts of the waste management land.  There is a slight decline and a fairly straight stretch.  When you reach the Isinglass river, you can see remnants of a bridge or damn.  The trail curves left and goes down a moderate rocky area, past a rock wall to low area where you can approach the waterfall.

After enjoying the waterfall, continue on the yellow trail (trail markers on trees).  It will wander up and down with small elevation changes until it drops back to the river and it meets the Red Trail.  Here I continue with the river on my right until I get the second offshoot of the red trail.  If you continue straight here on yellow, you will go multiple miles more to a different parking lot.  There is a sign present which warns that the red to the left is the last option to loop back.

Take Red up a steep incline.  After about 20 feet, the trail levels off again and you will enjoy an easy walk back to the parking lot through hardwood forest.
Trail Map available here.

Difficulty: Easy with a few short/steep portions.

Distance: The yellow to red loop is about 1.5 miles.
Yellow Trail

Recommendations/Additional Information

- There usually is ample (free) parking in the dirt lot.  At times it can get crowded on hot summer days.

- Leashed dogs are allowed.  Be prepared to see them on trail.

- There are no bathrooms available at the trailhead.

- For an even longer hike (or different approach), hike the out and back yellow trail.  You can also access this trail further down the Rochester Neck Road on the right.  It's labeled Isinglass River Park.
Yellow/Red Trail right before taking red back toward parking lot.

I've hiked this trail in every season and really enjoy all that it offers in such a reasonable loop.  It's one of the many short, yet beautiful scenic hikes in Seacoast New Hampshire.  
Isinglass River in September

For similar experiences, check out:

Winnie the Pooh Hike in Barrington, NH

Hanson Pines in Rochester, NH

Pickering Ponds in Rochester, NH