The Highest Point from the Ossipee Range to the Seacoast

 This article is one of a series that focuses on properties of the Lakes Region Conservation Trust. LRCT has conserved 145 properties totaling over 25,000 acres in the Lakes Region. Many of these properties are trailed and open to the public for recreation.The Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT) is an independent, nonprofit, member-supported organization dedicated to the permanent protection, stewardship, and respectful use of lands that define the character of the region and its quality of life.” (LRCT Mission Statement).

 

“In the summer, we kids spent many evenings at the 'top' of Copple Crown, a place where we believed was the best view in NH. On a clear day you could see the snow covered Mt. Washington, while viewing the spectacular Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Wentworth and Rust Pond. That’s what I loved best about skiing Copple Crown. As small as it was, the view was gorgeous and I would stop and take it all in as much as possible.”

These words from Lisa Erb are written on the Lost NH Ski Areas web site. She brings us back to a time when small, local ski areas were spread across New Hampshire and all of New England, Copple Crown being one of those minor, short-lived ski resorts. Opened in 1966 as a semi-private mountain and closed in the late 1970s due to lack of snow (no snow making) and the high cost of insurance. Town & Country Homes built the ski area as well as a housing development. The ski slope was used primarily by home owners and their guests. The mountain provided a 500 foot vertical drop, with seven trails, served by a rope tow and T-bar; the perfect family-centered ski resort. Copple Crown Ski Resort is gone now, but the chalets remain.

 On a clear, crisp pre-winter day, Sandy, Steve, Reuben (my dog) and I began a day of exploration: a climb to the summit of Copple Crown Mountain and to find the abandoned ski slopes. There are actually two summits on Copple Crown and I suppose that’s how the name of the mountain originated, resembling the crested head of a bird. We drove to Woodman Road in Brookfield and continued on this snow covered Class VI Road until we could go no further due to the mud and slush. Thankfully, my 4-wheel drive pickup got us that far. A better option for those without a high clearance and 4-wheel drive vehicle is to park at the beginning of Woodman Road and walk 1.2 miles to the trailhead. Numerous stone walls and cellar holes line Woodman Road and are a reminder that in the early to mid-1800s the area was populated by families eking out a living, farming and growing “rocks”.  By the end of the 19th century, deserted farm houses lay rotted on the ground, abandoned by families who moved to find cheap, fertile land in New York, Ohio and elsewhere.

After parking the truck on the side of the road we walked a short distance where we found the trailhead marked by a Lakes Region Conservation Trust kiosk. This 732 acre conservation area covers the northwestern slopes and summit of Copple Crown (1,868 ft.).  It is part of the Moose Mountain chain and is the highest point between the Ossipee Range and the seacoast. The land is protected by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust since 1996 as a land trust through the generosity of Edward and Barbara Sutherland and other donors. This was the largest land acquisition by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust at that time.

From the trailhead we followed a tote road until the trail turned off and we began to climb the mountain. The trail wound its way gently up the mountain through stands of oak, hemlock, maple and birch. It was a relatively easy climb due to the frequent switchbacks, and we reached West Peak with little effort. The views were amazing. Osgood’s White Mountains: A Handbook for Travellers (sic), Edited by M.F. Sweetser, describes the views from Copple Crown as affording, “A beautiful view of Lake Winnepesaukee (sic) and the mountains beyond, and is frequently ascended by tourists from Wolfeborough (sic). It is claimed that 30 ponds and lakes are visible from this peak.” We necessarily didn’t see 30 ponds and lakes as the 1876 guidebook described, but the views across the Big Lake to the Squam Range, Sandwich Range, all the way to the Presidential Range were amazing.

Following our vista break, trying to identify all the mountains in our sight, we continued on the trail that would take us to East Peak where a ledge provided views into Maine and southern New Hampshire. While Sandy gathered spruce boughs for holiday decorations at her home in Meredith, Steve and I attempted to identify numerous animal tracks in the fresh fallen snow. With the sun beaming down on us we started our trek back to West Peak to locate the ski slope.

Descending the mountain we saw a clearing where a home was nestled on the wooded slope of the mountain. We ran into the owner of the home who was walking his dog along the trail, and he directed us to the summit station of the defunct T-bar lift. We followed his directions and found the T-Bar summit station. I walked around it, imagining a time when the trails were crowded with enthusiastic skiers: children’s squealing with daring delight, parents chatting about trail conditions and teens scheming to get away from the watchful eyes of their parents.  The ski-ways are now mostly grown-in with fledgling trees and brush, but someone has kept a few trails open. Obviously that person still loves to ski Copple Crown. We gazed from the clearing above the lift stanchion and were struck by the gorgeous view that Liza Erb described: Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range bathed in a brilliant sun, while the Belknap, Squam and the Ossipee Ranges stood like towering sentinels guarding entry into the Lake Winnipesaukee basin.

A former skier of the area lamented on the NELSA web site, “I still have my old ski patch that has the slogan, ‘We Ski Copple Crown’ on it with that red crown. Those were the days…” Did any of you ski Copple Crown? This would be a great family hike any time of the year, but especially now since the road and trail system can be easily climbed with snow shoes or back country skis.

To get there: From Wolfeboro follow NH 28 for 3 miles east to NH Route 109. Turn right onto Route 109 and continue 7.9 miles and turn right on Governor’s Road. Proceed .4 miles and turn left onto Moose Mountain Road. The pavement ends at 1.5 miles; bear left along a narrow dirt road to a parking area. The trail begins on Woodman Road, a class VI Road. The hike to the summit of East Peak is 2.8 miles.

For questions or comments contact Gordon at forestpd@metrocast.net

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