I collect as much information as I can about New Hampshire’s parks and trails. From a thick binder filled with loose maps to my Randolph Trails book with its still-intact spine, I think I have the state covered. I have three books in particular to which I keep returning. Let me tell you about them, and I hope you’ll comment about your own favorite guides.
Hiking the Monadnock Region by Joe Adamowicz, second edition. There’s at least one newer edition in print, but there’s no way I’ll give up the one I’ve got. My scribbling fills the margins, with my remarks about conditions as I found them supplementing the author’s own excellent text. The 30 hikes described in the book have taken me from Hinsdale to Amherst over the years. The longest hike, rated at about three and a half hours, is Marlboro Trail on Mount Monadnock. There are plenty of shorter and flatter excursions listed, and it’s great to see so many Forest Society and NH Audubon properties highlighted. The black-and-white maps in the book can be unclear, especially where contour lines are close together. Supplementing them with maps from another source is a good idea. I’ve done some of these hikes a dozen times; they’re like old friends I keep going back to visit. (New England Cartographics, ISBN 1-889787-07-8)
50 Hikes North of the White Mountains by Kim Nilsen. This one’s practically hot off the presses, just published last year. It brings into one place information about a number of hikes I’d like to take someday. I met the author, Kim Nilsen, about five years ago as I began to investigate the Cohos Trail. He’s spent the last three decades developing that trail and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm about the North Country with anyone who’s interested. With this book, he puts it together. He has a distinctive voice, and he writes with tremendous affection for northern New Hampshire. I’ve taken a few of these hikes, but most are on my “someday” list. This is a book that lends itself to daydreams and plans. (The Countryman Press, ISBN 978-0-88150-972-4)
New Hampshire Rail Trails by Charles F. Martin. This is an encyclopedic guide. Nothing else comes close to compiling so much information about recreational rail trails in this area. Photographs are plentiful, and the reference maps are useful (but should be supplemented in the field). I like the brief history he includes with each trail description. I have found his ratings of scenery and trail surfaces to be accurate. He mentions the agencies that maintain each line, so if I want updated information about a particular trail, I know where to start making inquiries. (Branch Line Press, ISBN 978-0-942147-10-0)
I should mention that I bought all of these at Toadstool Bookshop in Milford. I’m sure they’re available online as well, but throw some business to your local bricks-and-mortar bookstore if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby.
Let me know where you get your own trail information. You might give me some good ideas.