Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fire towers

Fire Tower list – I’ve already bagged all of the “active and standing” fire towers in New Hampshire but there is another list I’m interested in.  This list includes all towers that were proposed, previously standing, and standing.  In all there are 92 sites listed and I’ve already been to almost half (39).  They offer a patch to anyone who goes to all 92 locations, and I love patches!

Last weekend I headed to a couple of former fire tower sites.  First up was Mine Hill in Auburn NH.  This 580’ hill is one of three candidates for the “highest point in Auburn”.  I parked at the junction of Route 121 and Shore Drive (a dirt road) along the Northeast banks of Lake Massabessic.  With the trees not quite in bloom I could pretty much see where I needed to go.  I headed up the fire road and it was pretty obvious which way to go at any trail junctions (always go up).  It would be impossible to wander onto private property as it was clearly marked.  The summit was 6/10ths of a mile from my parking spot.  There is a house right next to the summit but the summit itself is public land.  It was easy to imagine the fire tower as the four giant cement footings were still in place.  I took a couple of pictures (no real views) and then zipped on back down and added an out and back along Shore drive to get in a total of 2 miles of running.

After Mine Hill I headed off to Pelham NH.  This time my goal was Jeremy Hill, which at 575’ is the highest point in Pelham.  The state owned the area named “Jeremy Hill Natural Area”.  I found some good maps but no clear indication of where to park or access the area which is pretty much completely surrounded by private homes.  I followed Jeremy Hill road west and dipped south of the hill.  Iturned right at Bowman lane and continued to the end of Jeremy hill road.  I was looking for the “paper road” on the map but couldn’t locate it.  I parked in a small turn-out (room for 2 or 3 cars) and saw a sign for the paper road heading north.  I need to go south to reach the hill.  The homeowner at the end of the road was out gardening and assured me it was okay to park where I was and that the “class 6” road was indeed just across the street heading toward the hill.

I immediately ran into a gated road with a “No Trespassing” sign on it.  I headed out and checked for another entrance.  After not finding one I checked with another homeowner who assured me that was the correct trail and that I should ignore the sign.  Nice!

The trail was a bit rough at the start but as I climbed it was better maintained and you could see the Natural area which was marked with blue blazes.  The trail to the summit was pretty short, only about ½ mile from the road.  I was happy to find not only the fire tower footings but also a benchmark and a Geocache!  On the way back I detoured to check out where the class 6 road went.  I popped out in a clearing above a house.  The view was great!  I could see the Boston skyline 30 miles to the south.  This natural area was well worth the trip. 

My final stop of the day was the “southern-most point” in New Hampshire.  The Leslie Monument in Pelham/Dracut MA marks the southern point in the line that runs from NY “nearly straight” across Massachusetts.  At the monument the MA/NH border then heads northeast curving until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

I parked at the Dunlap Sanctuary and scouted out the farm that lies on Marsh Hill road just south of the marker.  Luckily the landowner was in his driveway and receptive to allowing me to go visit the monument.  With the open farm land there was a pretty nice view.  I used to run this road many times back in my U-Lowell days but never realized how close I was to the state line.  I’m glad I visited!

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