Ready, Set, Hike! Franklin, NH

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View from the top, Mt. Kearsage

During our week in Franklin, New Hampshire, we took three wonderful hikes. They ranged from “real” hiking up a mountain with a view, to a mysterious, newt-laden pond trail to a short but beautiful hike up around one of the more popular lakes in New Hampshire. All of them were dog-friendly for Katie Puppy, our year-old rescue. All of them doable by 10 year old kids (and 2/3 would be easy for kids much smaller).

First up was Mt. Kearsage (elev 2937 ft), a bare-summitted mountain about 20 minutes to the southwest of Franklin. We looked it up on alltrails.com and there are many recommendations. The trick is to figure out if you are coming in from the north or from the south, each of which has its own benefits. We came in from the north, which has the longer (and steeper) Rollins and Wilmot Trails, while the south has the Warner Trail which is essentially a walk from the parking lot. On the plus side for the south, you are within easy striking distance to the Mt. Kearsage Indian Museum which was highly recommended to us but will have to wait for next time.

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Up up and away with Katie Puppy

We took the Rollins Trail up and the Wilmot Trail down. I will say that New Hampshire is pretty hard-core on *up* trails. I think they consider switchbacks wimpy. So straight up you go, soon to get incredible views above the tree line. A bare summit with fire and cell towers is pretty much universally windy and apparently sometimes has views all the way to Boston (we did not see it). If you’re looking for a get-away from the crowds hike, this is not it. At the top you have quite a group of people who have staggered the 50 yards from the southside parking lot. The views however, make it all worth it.

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On a decidedly misty grey day, we explored a short 2 mile trail called Shaw Pond. I will be the first to admit that when my son chose this one, I thought..boooorring! 2 miles…out and back…tiny pond….oh, all right. And it turned out to be a wonderful nature hike with a special orange surprise.

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The entrance to Shaw Pond

We parked in a very scruffy lot that was very unmarked. Again, kudos to alltrails.com which can really help you figure out where you’re going. A walk by an old-style rope-tow ski area (not even sure it’s still in business but perhaps you have to be a veteran to get in, no idea) and then a walk down snowmobile trails and pine woods. New Hampshire has no dearth of pines, that’s for sure. Then off onto a narrow trail up and down when Lalo shouts: Lizard!

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Lizard!! No, newt!

And there on the ground is a tiny orange lizard, later found to be a juvenile Eastern newt. And this particular Eastern newt has many many friends on the trail. We all exclaim as we see them running, hiding under leaves. Finally the boys can resist no more and pick them up in handfuls, finally releasing them near a creek. Of course I read later that the juvenile newts are colored orange to ward off predators from the toxicity of their skin. The kids survived. Perhaps not the newts as also read later (all credit to wikipedia) that only 2% of newts make it out of the baby stage. Poor little dudes.

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Released

The newts are a highlight of the walk, as is the picnic rock that awaits us under a large American flag alongside Shaw Pond. A rickety dock extends out into the grasslands. There is even a small lean-to for I suppose the fisher folk or the cub scouts? Not sure. A great family walk, especially if you can get there in newt season.

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Shaw Pond under angry skies
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Rickety dock

The final biggish hike we took was on Brook Trail at Winnisquam Lake. Lovely woods, a loop trail and great views through the pines.  You can make this trail shorter or longer depending on add-ons–we made ours shorter as there are days when the kids are just not feeling it.

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No day out on the lovely lakes of New Hampshire is complete without a stop at a seafood shack. We did that. Don’t remember its name. They’re all about the same, and they’re all good.

Thanks New Hampshire for a lovely week in the woods and mountains. We will be back…oh wait, back soon as I still have Mt. Washington to go… and then summer has ended right there where it began.

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