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 Craney Hill lookout tower. 
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 Craney Hill lookout tower.
The back story:

A couple years ago, as I finished deer hunting for the morning I found myself sitting in my car sipping down the last of my hot tea from my thermos. I was browsing over my USGS quads of the area when something caught my eye. I had never noticed it before, but up on Craney Hill, which is the official name to the hill that Pat's Peak ski area sits on, was a tiny black square with the words "Craney Hill Look out Tower. With some time to kill I decided to drive over and have a look. So I parked at the gate for the jeep trail that also serves as the "hiking" trail (a loose term really). But when I got up there I found that the tower had been fenced in and was not accessible (well, at least to those who think a "Keep Out" sign actually means keep out.) It appeared in somewhat decent condition, just that you could not get up on it. So I was bummed. I could tell from what I could see through the trees, and having a very good knowledge of what is in the area, that the views from the tower were probably wonderful. So I walked away lamenting about the "bust" on the side trip I had taken.

Today:

So there I am, driving out to my usual hunting haunts to do a little pre-season check up when I pass by Craney Hill Road and see a sign saying "Fire Tower Open". I hit the brakes, banged a U turn and drove on over thinking it was too good to be true. The funny thing is I was thinking not 5 minutes before I saw that sign that it would be great if someone actually restored the tower...and here it was too good to be true. So I puled off the road in front of the gated jeep road like I did those couple years ago. A new sign simply stated "Craney Hill Tower". I ran up the jeep road (almost literally...it is nice losing 30 pounds you know :lol: ) and as I came into the clearing I no longer saw the fence that had kept people out, and sure enough I saw the shadowy outline of people up in the tower. So I started the climb and was happy to see two gentlemen talking with each other. I apparently surprised them ("wow, I didn't even hear you coming up"....I guess I am like a whisper in the wind :D ), which broke the ice. Turns out these were a couple of the people involved with returning the tower to a usable status (usable as in for people to climb, not as an actual Fire Look Out tower). They had put in new windows, replaced broken wood steps, etc. etc. And the views? Everything I knew it would be. Simply delightful for the effort you put in to the climb, I would guess something along the lines of a 1/4 mile one way or so. You get a 360 degree view of the entire Monadnock-Sunapee greenway ridge. Kearsarge over in Warner. The hills of Northern MA and of course my "back yard" peaks the Uncanoonucs. The windmills on Lempster Mountain ( :evil: ). With a pair of binoculars you could possibly even see to the Whites.

To get there:

Take Route 114 out of Manchester, through Goffstown and Weare. Turn off on Flanders Road (look for the "Pat's Peak" sign) on your left. About 3/4 of a mile down this road you will see Craney Hill Road on your left turning somewhat steeply up the hill. Once on Craney Hill Road drive for about a mile. The jeep road gate will be on the left hand side, and hopefully the sign will be there permanently to inform you that you are there. Parking is tight, so you will have to skooch yourself in on either side of the road if someone else is already parked in front of the gate. As I mentioned, the jeep road runs about 1/4 mile one way, grades are pretty easy, and I did the hike up in only several minutes. A simple warning....you may want to do this on the weekend. I say this because I don't know if the cab is going to be locked when no one is there to watch over things (this is one of those things I forgot to ask the two fellows). And you WILL need to get into the cab to get the views. The main landing just below the cab is right at tree level and thus no views unless you get into the cab.

Final comments:

The guys told me that they managed to get the tower on the National Historic Record in 1997 (a copy of the certificate hangs in the tower along with photos of some of the past tower watchmen and other related articles). The cab is small, so if there is a large group there be prepared to wait a few minutes for your turn (believe me it is well worth it.)

So bottom line...GO THERE. Trust me, you will enjoy it. It is short. It is easy. It gives you some wicked cool views. 8)

Brian

P.S. Tower facts here


Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:19 pm
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Could it be true? A TR from Brian. :? Now if we could just get him to hull his DSLR along.8) But still, a nice little report. :)

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Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:15 pm
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If you want to call this a trip report, then OK. But it is about as laughable a "hike" as walking to get the mail here at home. :lol:

Brian


Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:44 pm
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But Brian, its not a 4k so most people won't go!

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Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:52 pm
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HardcoreIdiot wrote:
But Brian, its not a 4k so most people won't go!


Hmmm, maybe if I tell them that Craney Hill is 4001 feet they will. Yeah, that is it. It is 4001 feet high and you drive to 3991 feet. :D

Brian


Sun Oct 09, 2011 6:55 pm
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Sounds like a nice quick hike from my house. Will have to check it out. thanks Brian


Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:38 pm
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Enjoy Al! You will like it for sure!

I also just got one question answered by a friend who ironically was up there yesterday (I did not even know she was in the area, let alone knew about the tower!) The cab was unmanned and locked so they could not get into it. Thus to get into the cab, and thus the views you will need to go when someone is there manning it.

Brian


Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:58 pm
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Nice job recommending a hike you may or may not be able to do if its locked! Stick to hunting, buddy.


Greg

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Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:24 pm
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HardcoreIdiot wrote:
Nice job recommending a hike you may or may not be able to do if its locked! Stick to hunting, buddy.


Greg


Hey, you want to take these spare deer antlers I have sitting around here and hike with them next time we are out? :twisted:

Brian


Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:35 pm
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 Re: Craney Hill lookout tower.
I did this one early in my leg recovery and they have it blocked around the stairs preventing anyone from going up it. Neat little find. Unfortunately I first drove to the private residence and saw the no trespassing sign. It took me a bit to find the correct entrance but I did. I didn't realize how short of a hike it would be but it was good for me at the time! I had forgotten it was on my list of hikes to do from when u posted this, so thxs!


Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:49 pm
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