Mink Hills (local fun in Warner, NH)
Well, it is in NH, and it is hiking. Time to talk about a lesser known area? Sure, what the heck. I suspect a lot of us have our local haunts. Here's mine.
The Mink Hills is a long ridge of hills running approximately from Lake Massasecum in Bradford to Exit 9 on I-89 in Warner. Much of it falls under the Chandler Reservation, managed by the town on Warner and the Harriman-Chandler State Forest. The highest peak tops out at around 1800 feet with no views but a nice grassy area below the peak
There's a trail network through the northern part.
Views are hard to come by, except in winter, or by going off trail. Some are shown in the link below, but this isn't all of them. One in particular is clearly visible from Rt. 103 and I-89 in winter and gives a nice view of
Kearsarge and Chocorua is visible from there. Summer's much more closed in.
What it does offer is some nice hiking. I've been puttering around a lot mapping all kinds of features, many of these I would like to eventually share online, except for any previously unpublished historically sensitive
sites I might stumble across.
You can see on the map many rock walls in the area that I understand were built for the 1810-1840 sheep craze. Some of these go up some amazingly steep slopes. It gives deep appreciation for the strudiness and tenacity of those who cleared this land and built these walls.
I've been going up logging roads, off in random directions off trail, following brooks, the walls, etc. but tonight I realized the trails on the map weren't quite accurate. Just fine for general hiking, but it was messing up some other stuff I'm plotting. So it was a good time to just follow the trail and let the GPS do its thing. At least as well as an old receiver can do under sometimes heavy canopy (I use a Garmin GPS 12).
I took the Osgood Rd. to the White Trail to the Cross Minks Trail east to Bean Rd. and then back the same way. To get to the Osgood Rd., take exit 9 on I-89 and go west towards Bradford. About 1 mile down, turn left onto Newmarket Rd. Shortly thereafter, go straight through the intersection and down to right to cross the covered bridge. The 2nd left is Bean Rd. Go up and when you hit the top (road turns to dirt), look to the right for a dirt road, chained maybe 20 ft. in. Do not block the road, as it's always possible some logging may start up again. I've only seen it once in 4 years, but wouldn't it be my luck...
The White Trail is blazed, well, in white. Up to the cellar hole shown on the map, it's a formerly paved road. The road starts to the south, and a clearing is reached where a logging road can be seen leading off to the right. Continue straight. Soon you'll reach another clearing. Go straight, keeping to the far left here. Look carefully for the white blazes upon re-entering the woods. The White Trail has been blazed recently, but there are places where care is needed to follow the trail. It is not heavily used and goes through very open woods, so the way is not always obvious. The trail climbs steadily, and the junction with the Cross Minks Trail will be soon reached. The Cross Minks Trail leading south from the intersection is overgrown here, and not particularly visible.
The trail leading east towards Chandler Mink goes to the left, climbing up to the summit plateau. Again, care must be used on this section, as some of the white blazes are faint and sparsely spaced. At the summit is the remains of a tower used to display a flag visible in the town in years gone by.
I've done this hike many times, and in winter, there's something of a view towards Warner and Kearsarge. In summer, very limited views can be had, and scrambling up a tree doesn't hurt. I do remember tree climbing being much easier when my age was limited to the single digits though. Up to now, I hadn't continued very far on the Cross Minks trail from here, but today I decided to do the run down and back. I'll describe this section starting from Bean Rd.
I've kept an eye out for the trailhead while driving on Bean Rd. and have never spotted it. Now I know why, it's just not really visible. Look for a large 3-4 ft. boulder on the right about 5 ft. off the road, 0.5-0.6 mi. past Osgood Rd., and there's a small break in the fir in the upwards bank on the right. If the road turns back to tarred, you've gone too far. There's a sign marked tower just inside the woods. The map shows a parking area some distance down the road, but this is a lightly traveled road, and I don't see a problem parking on the side (just don't hold me responsible!). There is a small one car are to park off road directly across from the trail.
This trail is apparently much older, more used, and the way is evident. Regardless, pink flagging marks the route profusely. The trail starts at a steady climb through great footing, and eventually has a lovely moderately steep section I wasn't expecting and was pleased to find. Upon reaching the trail junction to the old Ski Tow (marked in orange flagging), the trail becomes much flatter, leading to the tower.
Trail distances are short here. Osgood Road and White Trail to the Cross Minks Trail is 0.9 miles. From the intersection to Chandler Mink is 0.3 miles. The elevation gain is 620 feet.
From Cross Minks Bean Rd. trail head to Chandler Mink is 0.4 miles, with 535 ft. of elevation gain.
I've posted the first run of my topo here, only showing the trails.