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 Oak Hill in Loudon/Concord and a side trip. 
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 Oak Hill in Loudon/Concord and a side trip.
With all the crazy stuff that goes along with moving mostly taken care of me and Jen decided to take advantage of the nice weather last Friday and get out to hike. Since it was a half day for me it was going to be one of those more "simple" hikes. There were a few options I put out there, most of which were firetower hikes, and Jen picked Oak Hill. I know the area around Oak Hill very well. My Uncle and I have fished Turtle Pond, at the base of Oak Hill, for over 10 years now. I never even knew there was a firetower up there untill last year when I bought my AMC Southern NH guide. And now that Jen and I are attempting to visit all active towers for the NH Forest services program it was time to visit the tower.

Oak hill is typical of the rolling hills you find that basically form the buffer between the Merrimack river valley and the bigger mountains to the north. Not being exceptionaly high the tower is still located on land higher than its surrounding neighbor hills. This allows for some excellent viewing from the cab (Im assuming only because it was locked.) Scudders guide gives an excellent idea of the distances and masses you can see. This hike, or rather it was more of a stroll, surpirised Jen and I at its ease. The book time for this one was 50 minutes and we wound up completing it in 30 which included a side trip down a path (more on tha later.)

Parking is just before the height of land. The trail, which is actually the warden road, is gated and you must be careful to avoid no parking signs. There was a little area to park right off the road near a yellow "School Bus turn around" sign about 25 yards on the same side as the trail. We geared up and set up the road.

The trail, as mentioned, is actually the wardens access road. There is a sign that gives an unusal distance marked on it. As noted in a couple of guide books it gives a distance of TWICE as far to the tower. The road is a hard packed dirt and gravel which offered easy footing. You walk along quietly (after you get past the hose at the bottom of the hill with the barking dog :D ) through the beautiful woods surrounding the road. We saw a couple of different frogs and a small snake. Its very serene.

The guide book mentions of a side path that leads to a white quartzite ledge easily seen from the Turtle Pond area. We started searching for this path before going al the way to the top. We thought we had found it, but to be safe we turned back and decided if we found no other option fitting the guides description we would come back. So we turned around and returned to the main trail. The grade NEVER gets difficult despite what the book says (they say alternating easy/moderate.) So it was with great surprise when we came upon the first sign of our being very near.

Cell phones are an important part of peoples lives nowadays. Because of it the need for towers is very real. And its with a sort of sad reality you find a giant cell tower on Oak Hill. This metallic beats rises high over your head into the sky. Continuing on there is another tower, which I dont think is a cell tower, but some sort of comunications device. The fire tower is just up ahead and you can see the cab poking through the trees as you round the final bend to the tower.

Jen has a fear of heights that she has been doing good to conquer as we hike more and more. So I was surprised when she made it half way up before getting nervous. To be honest I was a little nervous to as I hit the platform below the cab. Not that I dont trust New Hampshire knows how to make a sturdy tower, but the sem-wobbly stairs even got me worried :oops: . What surprised me even more was when Jen decided to push on to the top platform with me! The views were nice and would have been better if you didnt have to duck and dodge over and around all the dishes on the top platform. We found two padlocks on the cab door telling us we were not going any further this time. After we had enough we returned to earth. As we hit the bottom 2 ladies and a young girl rode up on horses. It was very neat. We also stopped to take our pictures next to a rusted horse drawn plow, a reminder that this whole area used to be farm land.

We returned to the side path we had started to take on the way up. Unfortunately the path wandered close to homes and then looked to end in some sort of yard with a barn. We decided not to push on any further, which bummed me out cuz I wanted to visit the quartzite ledge. So we turned back and returned to the truck.

Now, it was getting close to traffic time on the highway so I decided to take 3A back so we could take a short side trip. For years I have driven past the Birthplace of Mary Baker Eddy. Located off of 3A near the Concord/Bow line I must have passed it thousands of times. My Uncle and I were always saying we were gonna stop in to just check it out, and that day I finaly did. You drive up a paved road to a small parking area and a large open field where the farm once stood. Right now all that remains is the outline of the foundation. There is a small Kiosk with information about the site and miss Eddy. Mary Baker Eddy was the founder and leader of Christian Science. Here familys farm rested on what was once a 200 acre plot. There appears to be a few short trails to walk around, but we did not bother for one reason. You see, under different circumstances one would call this a lovely and serene place. But unfortunately the highway is located maybe 50 yards into the woods. So all that could be heard that day was the woosh of cars speeding past. It was actually unplasant and loud. So after a few pics we decided it was time to return home.

So I would have to say the Oak Hill experience went very well. Its a great destination if you live in, or very close to, Concord and your looking for an after work stroll.

My computer is giving me fits right now so Ill have to post pics later.

Brian


Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:46 pm
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so many trails near by... so little time to get to them!

Thanks for the report Brian.. glad to see you getting out there with Tagalong still!

SJ

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Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:54 pm
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SJ,
we both really liked this walk. We want to do it again, and hopefuly find that mysterious side path to the lookout ledge. And hopefuly the tower cab will be open so I dont have to sit with one hand in a death-grip on a railing and my Scudders guide in the other. Kinda hard to concentrate, ya know :shock: :wink: :D .
Brian


Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:57 pm
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