Date: September 30, 2012
Distance: 4.64 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,329 feet
Our Hiking Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes roundtrip
Trail Blaze: Blue Rectangle
I had been looking forward to this hike all week, though with a forecast of rain, I kept praying that somehow we would luck out and get sun. Alas – no such luck. Instead, it rained for the two days prior to our hike, which ensured a fairly wet, muddy trail. On the plus side, thanks to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Youth Opportunities Program, my inner-city students were decked out head to toe in warm, comfortable gear, so the weather wasn’t an issue.
Though notoriously difficult to find, we actually had no problems locating the trailhead with the directions listed in the AMC Southern New Hampshire Trai Guide. The parking area is really just a pull-off on the side of the road, but it was big enough for several cars and our school bus.
The rain picked up as our 32 kids huddled at the trailhead sign – which is hard to see, as it is set back from the road, and quite worn. We divided them up into four smaller groups – one with each adult. From there, the kids were assigned into leadership roles (lead, sweep, etc.) and we set out on the trail, giving plenty of space between groups so as not to overwhelm any other hikers. Turned out that wasn’t very necessary since we passed a total of three people during the hike. I did have a proud moment though – at one point my group of kids stopped walking and moved to the side of the trail, and when I looked up, I saw another hiker coming down the trail. Trail etiquette = check!
The very start of the trail is laced with maple syrup tubing – one of which runs directly across the trail. At first we were confused by the large black tube (which has yellow and black caution signs), because we thought it was marking a boundary we shouldn’t cross – but with no other options or trail blazes to guide us, we pressed ahead.
The trail itself was fairly easy – moderate sections of uphill climbs were quickly followed by level stretches. We had a small number of water crossings, as the trail cris-crosses Andrew Brook for the length of the hike to Lake Solitude.
The rain didn’t let up as we climbed just over two miles to Lake Solitude, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. The sound of the rushing water along with the patter of rain drops was incredibly peaceful, and the foliage was beautiful. As we reached the lake, the rain subsided, though a fog had descended and we couldn’t even see the shore. As the first group up, we had some time to ourselves before the other groups joined us for lunch.
Originally we planned to hike a bit more to the White Ledges, but given the wet, slippery terrain, we opted to head back to the bus after lunch. The trek down was quite easy, and the rain held off until just as we were loading back onto the bus. It was a great hike despite the dreary weather! I strongly recommend it if you like uncrowded trails and beautiful flora.
Directions to the trailhead:
Take the exit for Rt. 103 off of I-89, or from the junction of Rt. 103 and Rt. 103A in Newbury, head east on Rt. 103 for 0.8 mile. Turn right onto Mountain Road. After 1.2 miles, the trailhead will be on the right just before Mountain Road crosses a bridge. There is limited parking; do not block the woods road (trail). There is a sign for the trailhead but it isn’t readily visible from the road.