Friday, October 12, 2018

NH Ad Hoc Connector - Map, GPS, Description

In case there are any other weirdo hikers who want to try this, here's how to follow the 29-mile route that I used to get from the northwest end of the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge (SRK) Greenway in  Grantham, NH, to the Appalachian Trail in Hanover, thereby continuing north from where I started in Guilford, Connecticut, on the New England Trail. I've broken it down into sections that correspond with the walks I did. Note that I did have cell phone coverage throughout this walk. Only about 5 1/2 miles were roadwalks. The rest is a mix of snowmobile roads, hiking trails and walking paths, and other old woods roads.

***GPS FILE***: I recommend loading the gps route onto your favorite gizmo. Download a gpx file from Dropbox HERE.

Section 1: Stoney Brook Road and Reney Memorial Forest, Grantham (3.7 miles)

0.0 mi. Junction of Stoney Brook Road and Hogg Hill Road in Grantham (northwest point of the SRK Greenway). Head north on Stoney Brook Road for two miles. Road is paved but with very little traffic, and mostly wooded. Wide shoulders in many places.
2.1 mi. Turn west (left) onto a snowmobile trail/old road near the junction with Route 114. There is a large house on the left at that road junction across from a large triangular road island. The house has a U-shaped driveway and a white, 2-rail fence out front. The snowmobile trail may be overgrown with weeds and hard to spot, but enters the woods immediately to the left of this home, about 20 feet from the white fence. There is a gate with snowmobile trail signs about 100 feet or so up the trail.
Follow the old road up the hill, passing an abandoned building next to the trail at 2.8 mi. The old road becomes a rougher, weedier snowmobile trail for a bit.
3.0 mi. Turn right onto the yellow-blazed hiking trail of Reney Memorial Forest.  It is well-blazed and cleared. See map.
3.5 mi. Take a sharp right onto spur trail at the sign that points towards the library.
3.7 mi. Dunbar Free Library on Route 10 in Grantham.
Section 2: Dunbar Library, Grantham to Methodist Hill Road, Plainfield (10.3 miles)
0.0 mi. Head north on Route 10, crossing a bridge.
500 ft. Turn left (west) onto Dunbar Hill Road. Asphalt road with little traffic. 
0.8 mi. Turn right to stay on Dunbar Hill Road at old cemetery.
1.4 mi Turn left (west) onto "Hart Horn Road", a Class VI road and snowmobile trail.  The road goes into the woods just before a very large field. (If Dunbar Road bends to the left, you missed the turn).
2.7 mi Turn right (north) onto Croydon Turnpike, an old road/snowmobile trail. Follow this for five miles. You will follow signs for Snowmobile Corridor 5N. 
~5.0 mi Grantham Town Forest
6.0 mi Chase Pond
7.9 mi Turn Right onto Goodwin Road (gravel) passing the house on the left at the corner, and go left at the 'Y' immediate after the house as the old road goes back into the woods (see the snowmobile signs). There was caution tape across the entrance when I was there - but that's for vehicles, not pedestrians. 
8.3 mi Turn left with signs for 5N, following a Great Brook. 
8.8 mi Trail closely parallels Woodward Road (gravel, open to traffic).  This section of trail was a bit overgrown but walkable. You can either follow the trail or walk along the road.
9.3 mi Cross Great Brook
10.3 mi Methodist Hill Road (paved). The last part of this trail had been logged and had tracks from heavy equipment on it when I walked it.
Section 3: Methodist Hill Road, Plainfield, to Main Street, Enfield (8.7 miles) 
0.0 mi Methodist Hill Road. Snowmobile Corridor 5N was blocked with recent "POSTED" signs and recently logged and tubed for maple sap when I was there, so you cannot continue straight.  I bushwhacked around the closed area for about 0.6 mile and the description below is based on that. It was relatively easy bushwhacking. The easiest alternative is to walk east on Methodist Hill Road for 2.5 miles to the junction with Whaleback Mountain Road near I-89 Exit 16, rejoining the identified route there. Or contact the local snowmobile club to see if they have a reroute of 5N (preferable).
0.6 mi. End bushwhacking and rejoin snowmobile corridor 5N on old road. 
2.1 mi "Junction 5" sign. Turn right (east) on club snowmobile trail towards Exit 16. This trail is in good shape, although a bit weedy at the very bottom near road. 
3.0 mi. Turn left onto Methodist Hill Road, which curves right and becomes Whaleback Mountain Road. 
3.2 mi Cross I-89. There is a gas station and a truck stop with a Subway restaurant. Continue on Eastman Hill Road for a few miles. It's paved, but not much traffic. You'll go up and up a hill, then down steeply at an 18% grade, per the sign. 
5.2 mi. At hair pin curve,  turn right onto an old road in the woods. Follow this old woods road, which eventually transitions into improved Monica Road, a quiet street line with homes. 
6.2 mi Cross Route 4 and walk down Payne Road, crossing the Mascoma River near the Lake Mascoma Dam. Explore the dam. 
6.3 mi. Turn right onto the Northern Rail Trail. There will be a foot path on the right that leads down to the trail just before the bridge that crosses over the trail. "Keep to the right, pass on the left." Scenic area following the Lake Mascoma shoreline for several miles. 
8.0 mi. Rock cuts on both sides of the trail.
8.7 mi. Main Street parking area to the left. I didn't access this parking area from the rail trail and so cannot describe how to locate it from the path. If you get to the large rail trail bridge over the river, you went too far.
Section 4: Main Street Rail Trail Parking, Enfield to the Appalachian Trail, Hanover via the Moose Mountain (Orange Diamond) Ridge Trail (6.1 miles to the A.T., 10.6 miles to Goose Pond Road)
0.0 mi Main Street parking area near the intersection with Oak Grove Street, across from the Lutheran Church. Cross Main Street and head north on Oak Grove Street. 
200 ft. Left into Oak Grove Cemetery to the end of the lane, then turn right and follow that lane north  passing through a white gate (becoming Cemetery Road), all the way out to Route 4.
0.4 mi Turn left on Route 4. 
0.6 mi. Turn right at prominent granite post topped with address #159. The Ridge Trail (aka Orange Diamond Ridge Trail) begins here. There are no trail markings of any kind at the beginning, and no parking. This is private property.  Head northeast up the hill through the meadow, following a drive to the right of the solar panels.  The drive gradually curves back around to the left, heading northwest. Keep to the left at a "Y" junction that has some markings on the right. You want to continue heading N-NW all the way to the  treeline just beyond the powerlines. If you pass a pond, you went the wrong way. 
0.9 mi Treeline. You should see red survey tape around a tree there, and a faint trail. The trail follows a vague old road at first, just to the west of the ridgeline, then heads up to the ridgeline and becomes more like a game trail. Occasionally there is some red survey flagging (like every quarter mile). Just follow the narrow ridgeline closely and you'll be on or near the trail. Most of the time the trail is pretty obvious. The trail climbs gradually over three miles, gaining 900 feet in elevation. Eventually there are is also some blue survey tape marking the trail. 
1.9 mi. Overlook on left with American flag. 
4.4 mi. Turn right and then immediately left (at orange arrow) at junctions with Baum Conservation Area trails. From this point you want to be on the "Orange Diamond Ridge Trail" and the marking systems will change as you continue towards the Appalachian Trail.
4.8 mi. Turn right onto trail marked with light blue painted blazes. EASY TO MISS. There is little or no tread. Follow the blue blazes carefully for 0.9 mile.
5.7 mi Cross Moose Mtn Road (gravel) and come to signage for Shumway Forest. There will be no more trail markings. Follow the big wide dirt road north past the signs. Don't take any of the trails to the left. Keeping right, the trail will eventually leave the old road (you should pass a sign that says "To the A.T."), heading northeast up the hill. 
6.1 mi Appalachian Trail.  Congrats!
If you want to continue north to the next parking spot, go right on the A.T. and continue about 4.5 miles to Goose Hill Road. You'll cross over the Moose Mountain South and then North Peaks.

Many thanks to Sheri from the Blue Mountain Snowdusters club and Vicki from the Town of Hanover for very promptly responding to my questions about the local trail systems. It was a huge help!

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