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01 November 2011

Another Vermont Jaunt: Spruce Mountain and Peacham Bog

New hiking venues have opened up to me now that I've made the brilliant "discovery" that there are areas in eastern Vermont that require no more driving time than many of the areas where I hike in NH.  So, after a morning appointment in Littleton, NH on 01-November, I drove to I-93 and headed westward for another jaunt in Vermont.

Since it was late morning by the time I got underway, there was some doubt as to how much hiking could actually be done, especially with the shortened daylight hours of November.  The decision was made to start out by doing the 4.2 mile (round-trip) hike to Spruce Mountain.  The trailhead for this trek is located in the vicinity of Plainfield, VT.  Specific directions are located at the end of the page on the GrotonVT website (click HERE).

The next snapshot shows the signage at the trailhead.  The parking lot is quite roomy and can accommodate several cars.

The hike to the fire tower atop Spruce Mountain is overall pretty easy, but there are a few spots that are moderately steep.  And, I'll also add that there are many times during the latter part of the hike when it begins to look like you're just about to reach the top, but then you don't! :-)

I knew that there was someone else on the trail since there was one other car in the lot when I pulled in.  When I arrived at the fire tower, I discovered that the other hikers consisted of a Dad along with his young daughter who was comfortably tucked into a child carrier.  The happy couple are seen in the next snapshot.

Before setting off on this hike, I knew that this would be a "fire tower hike".  But quite honestly, this isn't my favorite type of hike.  For one thing, climbing these structures generally makes me uneasy.  Call it acrophobia, if you will.  My other issue is that the views from a fire tower seem somewhat "unnatural" or contrived.   I only climbed partway up the tower to one of the landings where I could peer over the treetops.  Since it was such a hazy day, I felt no urgency to increase my uneasiness by going all the way to the top!

After my "scary" fire tower adventure, I poked around and found some nearby ledges where I got some nice views.  As would be expected, they were also quite hazy.  However, from these ledges I felt that the vistas were more interesting since I could include some foreground foliage in my snapshots.  Fire tower views always seem a bit "sterile" to me.  It's almost like snapping photos of a room that is devoid of furnishings.  Okay, I promise, that is my last fire tower rant!

Shown below is a hazy photo (zoomed) that was taken from a ledge near the fire tower.  Way off in the distance on the horizon, you can sort of see some high peaks in the NH White Mountains, beginning with the Presidential Range on the left and stretching over to the Franconia Range on the right side of the photo.

On the way back down the mountain, I stopped to check out a little side-trail that I'd seen on the way up.  This short pathway leads through a huge crack between two boulders.  With other boulders overhead above the crack, it forms sort of a little covered passageway.  The next photo shows this trailside feature.

By the time I completed my hike to Spruce Mountain, it was mid afternoon, but there were still a few hours of daylight left in the day.  So, I decided to make the short drive eastward to try to work in a hike to Peacham Bog which is located in the middle of the Groton State Forest.  Along the way, I stopped to take a roadside snapshot which includes the distinctive profile of Vermont's iconic Camels Hump mountain.

I figured there might still be time to hike to Peacham Bog if I "short-circuited" the Peacham Bog Loop Trail by starting at a point where the trail crosses Coldwater Brook Road (a side road off the access road to Boulder Beach State Park). 
I had no idea if roadside parking would be available at this location, and so I was delighted when I found a spot where the shoulder of the road had been widened.  Presumably, this widening was done to provide for hiker parking since there was signage at this point to direct you to the trail.

It was a bit after 3:30 PM by the time I parked and gathered my gear.  However, there was still a good chance of being able to reach the scenic portion of Peacham Bog and be back at my car at least by sunset.  From the information I had with me, I knew that it was about 2 miles to get to the viewing platform when you begin at the traditional trailhead.  But from my starting point, I had no idea how far it would be, other than it would be less than 2 miles!  Whatever the distance was, it took about 45 minutes to reach the various viewpoints along the bog.

The next photo was taken en route to Peacham Bog.  My knowledge of VT mountains is limited.  I think this is Owl's Head mountain, but could be very wrong about that!

Shown below is a collection of a few views at Peacham Bog, along with a photo of the signage where I parked.

The next snapshot showcases one of the views at Peacham Bog that I particularly liked.

The hike to Peacham Bog was completed with about 15 minutes to spare before the sun would set.  I quickly hopped into the car for a short drive to Boulder Beach State Park.  Although there are cottages that clutter the shoreline of Lake Groton, it is still a picturesque spot.  Portions of the shoreline are lined with clusters of beautiful white birch trees.  At the northern end of the lake I could see Owls Head, Little Deer and Big Deer mountains which were all neatly lined up on the horizon.  Since I had just recently hiked to Little Deer and Big Deer it was exciting to see from this ground-level perspective (click HERE for my Blog report of that hike.)

A couple of snapshots taken from Boulder Beach are shown below.

To sum it up, it was terrific to do two more hikes in the neighboring State of VT.  Although neither of these destinations would be classified as a "blockbuster" hikes, they were nonetheless very enjoyable.  And after all, regardless of where your travels might take you, isn't it always a pleasurable experience just to be outdoors and hiking in the woods?! :-)



Anonymous said...

Hey! That's my backyard! Good to see you enjoying some of Vermont's great places!

Tim Seaver

1HappyHiker said...

Hey Tim . . . that’s quite a lovely backyard you have!

Thanks for posting a comment,

Jim Stevens said...

Glad you made the trip to Spruce Mt. John. Thought you might enjoy it. My wife wasn't crazy about climbing the tower either,it was quite windy that day too.
The picture from Boulder Beach I think is Owls head, Little Deer, and Big Deer Mt. Big Deer is a good hike when the Blueberries are in season.
Not a great view,but a nice hike to kill some time.
Jim Stevens

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for confirming my identification of the 3 peaks seen from Boulder Beach! So far, I’ve liked all the hikes that I’ve done in VT, including these 2 most recent treks.

Regarding my previous hike that included Big Deer and Little Deer, I enjoyed the views from both of those little mountains. Little Deer has a cozy feel to it and a nice view. Big Deer provides a nice combination of views from the main ledge (where the blazed trail leads) + from the ledges at the end of the unmarked side-path.

I’ve still got a few more hikes I want to do in the Groton State Forest area, as well as in the Lake Willoughby area. Plus, I definitely want to do some XC-skiing in VT this upcoming winter season!


Rita Wechter said...

Yes, it's always wonderful to be out and hiking in a forest. Your posts make me want to move to New Hamsphire or Vermont!
As always, beautiful photos and informative text.

Summerset said...

The picture of the firetower is great - you can definitely see the scale with the hiker and child underneath. You're right - the destination doesn't necessarily matter, if you're enjoying your time outdoors.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Rita! NH and VT (and actually all of northern New England) has so much beauty, and it is indeed a terrific place to call “home”. But Rita, you have the best of all worlds by travelling all across America to visit a multitude of scenic and interesting locations.


1HappyHiker said...

Summerset, thanks for posting your comments. I don’t know whether to call it sad, sick or silly, but I can get as much outdoor enjoyment by meandering through the woods near my home as I can by trekking to some “brand name” destination listed in the guidebooks. :-)


Anonymous said...

No photos of purple pitcher plants? Next time you're in Peacham Bog, look down once in a while :)

1HappyHiker said...

Anonymous: Thanks for posting a comment. Very much appreciated!

It’s difficult NOT to look down while traversing the narrow pathways and boardwalks in the heart of Peacham Bog! The remnants of pitcher plants were abundant and quite evident. However, they were so decomposed that I felt they weren’t worth photographing. However, after my visit, I made a calendar notation to make a return visit to the bog next year at a time when they will be at their prime. It should be quite a spectacular show since the bog seems to be carpeted with these lovely plants.