The Granite State Walker blog is now sixteen years old! This modest landmark prompted me to look back and see which posts have drawn the most viewers – and I hope inspired as many hikes – during that time.
Two destinations finished way out in front: Mount Kearsarge with its trailheads in Warner and Wilmot, and Oak Hill in Concord. Each has prompted several posts from me, and even the older posts keep finding an audience.
I’m not surprised. Each of those locations has a fire tower, which can be an irresistible draw. Each one offers multiple trails. Easy access is another advantage: the south side of Kearsarge, via Rollins State Park, is only a few minutes’ drive from I-89. Oak Hill is close to I-93, and in fact is only a 12-minute drive from the State House (I checked).
The auto road through Rollins State Park ends at a picnic area a half-mile from the Kearsarge summit, which is a short hike for day trippers. (Don’t be lulled into carelessness by the short distance; plan ahead and wear appropriate footwear.) When the auto road is closed to vehicular traffic, usually November through May, it’s still accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists, and one needn’t get to the summit to find fine views along the way. Winslow State Park on the north side of Kearsarge offers a longer hike.
The Oak Hill trails are managed by the city of Concord, which has a surprising number of parks and trails for a city its size. The trail to the fire tower meanders uphill for about two forested miles to the Concord-Loudon town line. Shorter trails lead to pleasant vistas, including a western prospect that looks out toward – you guessed it – Mt. Kearsarge.
In sixteen years as the Granite State Walker, I haven’t run out of good places to explore south of the White Mountains. New trails are ahead, I know. But it’s good to have some old favorites to which we can return now and then. Kearsarge and Oak Hill are two of the best.