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 Bumbling Around Bear Brook Part II - 3/24/16 
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Location: Exeter, NH
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 Bumbling Around Bear Brook Part II - 3/24/16
A few months ago I wandered, at times, aimlessly around Bear Brook State Park in the Hall Mountain section, unable to find the Hall Mountain Marsh Trail listed on the official park maps (the report is here if interested http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=8994. The forecast for lousy weather today made me decide not to plan a hike, and then I woke up to sunshine coming through the windows. :evil: But after running a few errands I decided to check out a spot I noticed on Google Earth a while back. Nothing special, just a ledgy looking area marked on the USGS topo as BM 803. It's in Bear Brook State Park but has no trail on the map going near it which is odd as these features are rare in southeast NH. I parked at the Hall Mountain lot around noon and walked up Podunk Road, passing an enormous old foundation just inside the park boundary. Not sure how I missed it last time, it's the biggest one I ever did see. No idea what was there, but it was a pretty big structure at some point.

Unexpectedly back at Bear Brook State Park
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One very large, multi level cellar hole
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From there I knew the ledgy outcrop was nearby, and easily enough I found a path up to the top. I looked it up tonight and now think it's a mountain bike path maintained by NEMBA but am not sure. No signage, and again I walked right by it last time, but this time I took the trail to the top. Nice view out at Hall Mountain from the semi-open ledges at the top of this hill. It stands 125 feet above the little swamp below but the immediate vertical drop off the edge is only 40-50 feet in most spots. Well, that took all of ten minutes. Now what?! :? Then I noticed the trail continued down the backside of the hill so I decided to follow it. Perhaps it's the old Hall Marsh Trail, which is either not in the right place on the maps, or long gone. Maybe wiped out by the logging they have done there recently. Whatever it is it did go through the logging cuts and then to the dam that forms Hall Marsh. From there it continued along the edge of the marsh for a bit before heading into the woods and eventually popping out at the Bear Hill Pond CCC camp.

If you look for it the trail is obvious enough
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I think it's maintained by NEMBA and shown on there Bear Brook map
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Hall Mountain across the little valley
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Tree tops starting to get red buds
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No signage but a big arrow to point the way
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Logging clear cuts growing back
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The old Hall Marsh Trail??
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Trail leads to the Hall Mountain Marsh dam
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And follows the edge of Hall Mountain Marsh
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Hall Mountain across the marsh
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If it's not named the Hall Marsh Trail, it should be!
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Now I knew where I was from my wanderings last time, and decided to loop back over Hall Mountain on the Hall Mountain Trail. The trail was quite muddy and rutted by ATV's but passed along the marsh again before climbing up the backside of the mountain to the lower grassy summit that was at one point in time cleared as a picnic area by the CCC. Today the views are long gone (I think they should clear it again! :D ) but you can see through the trees in spring out to what looked like it could be the Uncanoonucs but I'm not sure. From there it was down and then up to the height of land on the trail where I of course made the short bushwhack to the summit. After signing the pill bottle register I went back on my way down the trail before taking the branch towards the ledge again. I decided to bushwhack around the marsh for a view of the ledge, but couldn't get a good one, so I went back and walked around the base of it, looking for a way to climb up the face but having no luck finding a safe looking spot, so I went around again and up one more time before calling it a day and heading back to the parking lot on Podunk Road.

Water tower at the former CCC camp
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Old signage
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And new
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Interesting sight along the way
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A muddy Hall Mountain Trail
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Hall Mountains lower summit and former picnic area
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Different summit cairn. What's so damn hard about taking your trash with you?! :x
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The Uncs??
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True summit of Hall Mountain
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Best view of the ledge I could find
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Couldn't find a safe way up the ledge
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So I had to go around the base of it
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Almost back on top
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The summit of BM 803
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I managed to turn this little exploration into a 6 mile hike by making the loop I did. It seems like the trail I followed with no signage should be the Hall Marsh Trail shown on the maps, which may have been decommissioned so to speak when they logged off the area it passed through, but now that the cuts are growing back it is easy enough to follow again. But that's just a guess. Easy enough to use as a connector and complete this little loop and make a decent little hike in the park using the view ledge/outcrop, which as I mentioned before are rare in the park/area. An enjoyable couple hours of wandering on a day that was supposed to be garbage. Wouldn't have been Plan A if I knew it wasn't going to rain and sleet all day like they said, but worked out just fine as something to do in between errands! :D


Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:00 pm
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