Friday, November 22, 2013


On this cold sunny day I headed down to southeastern New Hampshire to check out some recently completed trails in the Society for the Protection of NH Forest's 2300-acre Moose Mountains Reservation in Middleton, NH. Land stewards Jason Morris and Scott Lavoice have done a tremendous amount of work developing a trail system here over the last couple of years. Highlights include two ledge viewpoints, an historic farm site with open fields, and an unusual ridgetop pitch pine forest. You can find information on the SPNHF website here, and there are many photos and trip reports on Jason's Moose Mountains blog.

On the drive down I stopped at Chocorua Lake for the classic watery views of Mt. Chocorua...

... and Mts. Whiteface and Passaconaway,

The trailhead parking area is at the end of New Portsmouth Rd. in Middleton.

I followed old logging roads known as the Burrows Farm Trail and then the North Trail to the start of the new Beauty Ledge Trail.

The trail climbed up past this old stone wall, one of many found around the property.

I passed by Snapping Turtle Rock, though my photo was snapped from the wrong angle.

A fun, winding climb led up to a  pleasant 1230-ft. spur of the Moose Mountains named Beauty Knob.

Beauty Ledge is a scenic spot with a wide view to the south. Nice quiet place to hang out for a while.

Bowser Pond, part of which is within the SPNHF reservation, can be seen below. Teneriffe Mtn. is behind on the R.

Off to the L is little Piper Mountain, located in a town forest and accessible by snowmobile trails and woods roads off the North Trail.

The Blue Job Mountain range can be seen to the SSW.

I made a short loop using the Beauty Knob Trail and North Trail, returned to the Burrows Farm Trail, and followed it to a junction with an old woods road known as the Moose Mountains Trail.

This route - unblazed but easy to follow - made a 700-ft. climb to the crest of the Moose Mountains range, where at about 1600 ft. it led into a ledgy forest of pitch pine. This is a very rare and unusual natural community in New Hampshire. This area is currently located on private land, but SPNHF is hoping to acquire it and add it to the Moose Mountains Reservation.

One of the several summits of the Moose Mountains.

This beautiful area is similar to some of the trails at Acadia National Park. The pitch pines also reminded me of sandy Cape Cod.

I descended off the ridge and continued on the Burrows Farm Trail to the site of the historic Burrows Farm, amidst an extensive area of open fields.

There are several old foundations in the woods.

An historical relic, almost looks like something out of "The Untouchables."

Nice setting for a farmstead.

The 19th century Burrows Cemetery.

Phoebes Nable Mountain (1185 ft.) rises above the farm site.

Looking across to the Moose Mountains ridge.

Classic New England stone wall.

Oak forest approaching the summit of Phoebes Nable Mountain.

Nice cleared south-facing view on Phoebes Nable Mountain.

A big beaver pond to the SE. From here the Phoebes Nable Trail dropped fairly steeply to the parking lot. A hike that visits Beauty Ledge, the Burrows Farm, and Phoebes Nable Mountain is 3.6 mi. with 1100 ft. of elevation gain. Add 1.6 mi. round trip and 700 ft. of elevation to visit the Moose Mountains pitch pine forest.


  1. Pitch Pines and Jack Pines produce remarkably similar landscapes. The scenes above made me think of the rocky islands of the Canadian Shield as found in Georgian Bay, topped with tons of Pinus Banksiana apparently growing out of little other than sheer rock.

    1. Good comparison, Brent. Jack Pine is fairly rare in New Hampshire, but we do have some fine colonies on the ledges of Welch Mountain and Carter Ledge (Mt. Chocorua), along with a few other locations.


  2. Steve, I've really enjoyed your recent reports on lesser known (at least to me) areas - Moose Mtns, Belknap Range, Breezy Point, etc. I guess there are plenty of enjoyable places to visit in addition to the Whites. When I saw your first shot of the pitch pines in this report, I thought "wow, that looks like the Cape", then I continued further and saw that you made the same observation.

  3. Thanks, BC - working on the AMC Southern NH Trail Guide gets me out to many nice places away from the Whites. This was my first visit to the Moose Mountains and it was very enjoyable. I, too, always think of the Cape when I see pitch pines.


  4. Welcome to MMR! Lots of good snowshoeing and skiing here. SPNHF is now providing snow plowing of the parking area at the kiosk on New Portsmouth Road. If you want to support that, send them a donation earmarked for that purpose.
    Nordic skiers will be interested to know that a nearly one-mile downhill run back to the lot is possible under the right snow conditions. (Under the wrong snow conditions, wear a helmet …) Follow the North Trail uphill to its junction with the Mountain View Trail and continue on the North Trail until it's time to turn around.
    As Steve indicated above, trail descriptions and a trail map are available for free, at

  5. Great report and pics Steve! Scott and I as well as other Land Stewards and volunteers have really worked on making MMR a more enjoyable place to hike and have been getting the word out. It's great to have someone like you put a TR out on it! Will it be included in the new book you mentioned in the comments?? The trail to the pitch pine forest is on our long to-do list. Getting blazed and possibly re-work the trail in some of the washed out sections. Currently we are building a sustainable trail on the North side of Phoebes Nable Mt. that will close off the washed out woods road! Hoping to open this trail in the late Spring of 2014! This large property still has so much potential for new trails and improvements on existing ones! It's a wonderful place to hike, walk, snow shoe, photograph, hunt and snow mobile! I haven't really got around to posting much on the blog this year but all the pics from our hikes and work days can be viewed on the MMR Flickr page :)

    1. Hi Jason,

      Thanks very much for all the good work you, Scott and others have put in at MMR. I really enjoyed the day I spent wandering around there. I am hoping to include descriptions for the hikes to Beauty Ledge and Phoebes Nable Mtn. (with a mention of the side trip to the Pitch Pine forest) in the 4th edition of the AMC Southern NH Trail Guide, which should be out in early 2015. I'll keep an eye on your blog for updates next spring.

      Thanks again,