When was the last time I got to one of New Hampshire’s fire towers? Was it Kearsarge or Pawtuckaway? It’s been awhile, at any rate. The other day, everything came together for another tower expedition: perfect weather, access to a car, and an afternoon to myself. I took a beautiful drive to Stoddard for a visit to Pitcher Mountain. It’s not much of a hike – only ten or fifteen minutes from parking lot to tower. The 360º views are splendid, though, and the drive was a treat. Dozens of miles on roads with no traffic signals and not a single Dunkin’ Donuts in sight: how’s that for a Sunday drive?
I couldn’t miss the small parking lot on Route 123 on Stoddard. There’s a sign, but there’s also a view of the tower from the road.
The walk uphill from the parking lot through woods suddenly opens up to a field with a fine view of Monadnock to the south.
From the tower, there was a full panorama on a nearly cloudless day. Monadnock is the most prominent feature, but plenty of other peaks are visible as well. I had the second edition of Hiking the Monadnock Region (a fine guidebook by Joe Adamowicz) to help me identify some of them.
For more about New Hampshire fire towers:
One of the most interesting local publications in my collection is a little orange booklet called A Field Guide to New Hampshire Firetowers by Iris W. Baird and Chris Haartz (2002). Look for used copies online. The booklet includes a short history of all the currently operating towers in the state, along with notes on other towers that are still standing but have been decommissioned.
The New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands has a web page, including information on the Tower Quest program: visit five fire towers to earn a patch. Fun for kids. I admit I have one of those patches myself.