I love challenging myself on steep treks, long full-day hikes, and backpacking trips, but as I’ve found over the past few weeks, short day hikes are also really enjoyable ways to get out into the wilderness for a few hours. From the new trails behind Sunday River to Belknap Mountain to Mt. Major, my recent weekends have been filled with little excursions to immerse myself in nature and see some pretty views.
I was very excited when I learned about new trails opening up behind my home ski mountain, Sunday River. Summit Ridge Trail is closest to the White Cap and Locke peaks, but as of now, does not summit either. I began hiking the trail with my whole family, hoping to scout out some nice backcountry skiing accessible from the chairlift (I quickly realized that the backside of Locke is a sheer cliff). We began hiking on an old dirt road, but shortly took a turn into the woods onto a more traditional trail.
We came upon many pretty outlooks and the trees parted frequently for a view. We could see Locke tower and guessed where the other peaks were roughly located. I missed the winter and skiing, especially since the season was cut short. But then, I focused on the beautiful summer nature around me and was happy to experience the mountain in a new way.
We ate lunch at the top of the trail, which was a bald section of rock with another view of Locke. A sign read “To be continued” and I heard a chainsaw buzzing in the distance. I’m looking forward to coming back when the trail is expanded and had a great day hiking in beautiful Newry, Maine.
When I was staying with my grandmother at her condo on Lake Winnipesaukee the other weekend, my dad and I decided to take an hour of our afternoon and hike Belknap Mountain with our dog, Zealand. Most of the hike was actually under a power line that traveled up to a nearby radio tower. It was a short hike and we quickly rose to the wooded peak. But, there was a fire tower, and I ascended the steep steps so that I could poke my head above the trees and see a lovely view of the lake. The boats looked like they were moving in slow motion – just tiny still white dots on an irregular shape of blue. I located in my mind where different islands that I recognized were and enjoyed the scenery.
My favorite short day hike of all in these past few weeks was my trip up Mount Major in Alton, NH. Mount Major is a very popular hike, with fantastic views of Lake Winnipesaukee and a fairly easily accessible peak. In fact, Mount Major was my first hike ever when I was four years old. So, I was very happy to be returning to a peak I’ve bagged a number of times – and this this time, I was hiking with my friend, Abby.
We had a beautiful day for a hike – the sun was shining and there was a bit of a breeze. We took the blue trail up, and the orange trail down. I did not remember the trail as well as I wished that I did; it has been years since I’ve climbed Mount Major. The hike was fairly gradual to start, and the trail was wide and rocky. I was not used to seeing so many people on the trail. Eventually, we reached some rock slabs as we hiked higher. I introduced Abby to the term, “rock scrambling” and how it made a hike so much more fun. We scrambled up rock face after rock face, and I kept finding wild blueberries growing from cracks in the rock. What a yummy snack!
We could see the view behind us as we climbed, which was nice because it gave us a taste of what was waiting for us at the peak. Soon, the summit was under our feet and we high-fived. Hike accomplished! It was a 4,000 footer by no means, but we had a great time and could see Lake Winnipesaukee from above. I even could spot Mt. Washington in the far distance. The view was just as good as it was my first time, 13 years later. It was really fun to take one of my friends out – and maybe get her hooked on the mountaintop high too.