By Gordon DuBois
Prospect Mountain, 2064 feet, and Plymouth Mountain, 2,197 feet, sit few miles from each other and provide an opportunity for hiking enthusiasts to enjoy a trek of two summits in one day. The trail head of Plymouth Mountain is located within a few miles of Main Street, Plymouth and Prospect Mountain, in the town of Holderness, is only three miles from Plymouth's Exit 25 off I-93. It's interesting to note that there this another Prospect Mountain in Lancaster located in Weeks State Park, which is also an interesting climb. However, we'll stick close to home.
A few weeks ago, I had no knowledge that these two mountains even existed or that they had well maintained trails to their summits. Then my good friends Steve and Beth Zimmer invited me to climb Prospect Mountain. I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the house for a day with Reuben. We met them at our usual rendezvous spot, the I-93 Exit 23 Park and Ride. After a 15 minute drive on I-93 we left the highway at Exit 25, turned onto Holderness Road toward the Holderness School, and at the hockey arena turned left onto Prospect Mountain Road. From Exit 23 it was only a three mile drive until we found the trail head. It was a small turn-off where we could park our cars. Located across the road was a small white farm house with a red barn.
We began our hike on an old tote road. There was a slight covering of snow and some ice on the trail so we donned light boot traction and climbed leisurely past old stone walls and through stands of oak, maple and birch. The wide pathway, which was once a wagon road, gradually narrowed to a foot path. It followed the ridge line, leveled off and came to an outcrop of rock that provided a clear view of Squam Lake and the Ossipees beyond. After a short walk the trail again took us over another rock outcrop that had wonderful views of the valley below. We reached the summit a short time later and found a canister nailed to a tree that marked the summit of Prospect. We signed in, had a bite to eat and explored a trail that appeared to head down the other side of the mountain. Not wanting to descend off the mountain, we back tracked to the loop trail that led us back down the mountain. On our way off the mountain we found several other marked trails that led us through other sections of the mountain. One could easily get disoriented and lost by taking this alternate system of trails that appeared to be single track mountain bike trails. So, hikers should be sure to stay on the well-trodden main trail. I made a note to return here in summer, with my bike in tow, to continue my exploration of Prospect Mountain.
For many years, Plymouth Mountain was climbed using the Plymouth Mountain trail off of Route 3A in Hebron. A newer and better marked trail provides a slightly longer, but more satisfying ascent from the traditional route and provides access to a knob called "Pikes Peak" which has outstanding views to the north and east. This trail begins off Old Hebron Road in Plymouth. There is ample parking in the large clearing and a kiosk marks the beginning of the Fauver Link Trail, which winds through the Fauver Preserve, land that's protected by a conservation easement.
On the day Reuben and I hiked Plymouth it was overcast, with rain predicted later in the day. As I began my hike it was clear that I would again need foot traction. The trail was covered with water flows that were frozen, making walking without traction extremely dangerous. After reading the information on the kiosk I began on the Fauver trail, marked with yellow and blue blazes. The trail climbed moderately on an old woods road and then turned onto a narrow footpath. At .4 mile I crossed a large logging road and found the beginning of the Sutherland trail on the other side of the clearing. This trail crossed conservation land and is also marked with yellow blazes. We followed the Sutherland trail through beautiful stands of Hemlock, interspersed with some hardwoods. There were numerous beech nuts laying on the ground that I'm sure deer, rabbits and other varmints have feasted on. At .9 mile I reached a side path that led to a rocky knob that provided some restricted views. Continuing on my journey, the trail began to climb more steeply, crossing several rock out crops and at two miles I came to the Pikes Peak outlook. I continued my scramble over several ledges, treading carefully, due to the extremely dangerous ice pack on the trail. There were several locations where I needed to bushwhack to avoid some of the more difficult sections of ice. After another half mile I found the summit of Plymouth, which offered restricted views. After exploring the summit and other rock outcrops nearby, I made my descent back to the car.
Both these hikes of Plymouth and Pleasant Mountains can be completed in one day and offer a fun-filled adventure for the entire family. Children would especially love scrambling over the many rock outcrops on Plymouth. A good lunch at noon can also be found at several restaurants in Plymouth. I would strongly suggest that you wait another few weeks until warmer weather arrives and the ice has disappeared from the trails. For the hiking community this has been the year of ice. Stay safe and continue to enjoy the winter, it's not far from ending.
Summit of Plymouth Mountain.
- Category: Columns
- Hits: 610