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23 April 2012

Mt Prospect: It Was the Wildflowers Turn to Strut Their Stuff!

There is always something of interest to see when hiking at Mt. Prospect (2,077 ft) located near Lancaster, NH.   On an overcast April 22nd day, it was the wildflowers' turn to strut their stuff!   For me, the stars of this floral show were the Purple Trillium and the Dutchman's Breeches, both of which are shown below.

The next photo collage shows the entire cast of characters in this colorful production, including the two superstars that are highlighted in the previous two photos above.

On a clear day, Mt. Prospect provides 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside, from the White Mountains to the south and east, to the Green Mountains in Vermont to the west, and the Connecticut River valley to the north.  However, on this overcast day, the views were limited to nearby features on the landscape such as the Mountain View Grand Hotel with its wind turbine that was added to the property in recent years.

Also visible on this dreary day was the unique landscape feature named Cape Horn which is located in Groveton, NH. Shown below is a snapshot of Cape Horn that was taken on my 22-April jaunt to Mt. Prospect.

With my limited knowledge of matters such as this, I won't attempt to explain the geologic technicalities of the Cape Horn outcropping.  In simplest terms, it is what is known as a ring dike which is the remnant of an ancient volcano that was once present at this location.  In 2007, the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau prepared an extensive 67 page report about Cape Horn.  It is loaded with interesting information, and best of all, it's available online (click HERE).

In July 2010, I did a trek to Cape Horn.  If you're interested in my short report about that hike, please click HERE.

Okay, let's return now to my recent hike of 22-April-2012 to Mt. Prospect!  In keeping with my desire to try something new for most of my hikes, I decided to use a route that was different from my other outings to this little mountain.

Although there is a nice map of the trails on Prospect Mountain at the website, it doesn't show everything needed to depict my hike.  And so, I offer my own crude map that is shown below (click on map to enlarge).

If you study my map, you can see that there are many possible route combinations.  I chose to park at the trailhead for the Heritage Trail on Martin Meadow Pond Road and begin my hike from there.  My route involved a combination of the Heritage Trail; Around-the-Mountain Trail, Davidge Path, Old Carriage Path, and a short segment of the Auto Road.

Shown below are a few of the trail signs that were seen along my route.

And lastly, for those interested in such things, the 420-acre Weeks State Park encompasses Mt. Prospect plus the John Wingate Weeks Historical Site which was once the estate of John Wingate Weeks (1860-1926).  He was an avid environmentalist, and served as both a U.S. representative and senator and was Secretary of War under Presidents Harding and Coolidge.   More notably, Weeks was largely responsible for the Weeks Act which spurred the establishment of the White Mountain National Forest, as well other national forests in the U.S.

Weeks built his retreat at the top of Mount Prospect in 1912, and in 1941 the Weeks' children donated the property to the State of NH.  The property includes a lodge (National Register of Historic Places), and a beautiful fieldstone fire tower (National Register of Historic Lookout Towers).  There are about 5 miles of  multi-use trails, plus an auto road (designated as a New Hampshire Scenic Byway) to the summit.  There is even a tow-rope downhill ski slope which is managed by volunteers from the Mount Prospect Ski Club.

Shown below are 3 snapshots taken on the grounds on the Weeks Historic Site.  In order of appearance, these photos include the lodge, the fire tower, and a picturesque stone wall.

To sum it up, Mt. Prospect at Weeks State Park is open year round for hiking, snowshoeing, XC-skiing.  For folks like me who live within a short drive, it provides a nice venue for those times when you just want 1 to 2 hours worth of outdoor activity.  And for people who live out of the area, it can be included as part of a day's itinerary when visiting other locations in the North Country of NH.


Summerset said...

The flowers! Boy are they a welcome sight! Thanks so much for sharing this little treasure.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for the comments, Summerset!
Yes, it is indeed nice to see the spring wildflowers make an appearance. I must admit that I was a bit surprised to find so many at this particular location. Just days before, I'd hiked at areas several miles to the south (and with a southern exposure), and had seen no evidence of wildflowers. However, that was before we started getting some rain (at last!), and most likely the moisture played a role in the blooms finally bursting forth!


One Day in America said...

I loved the photos of eastern wildflowers, John; brought back memories of my treks through eastern woodlands.
I also enjoyed the links. I agree with you that carnivorous plants do indeed seem prehistoric—or like something out of a science fiction novel!
Also I didn't realize that there are remnants of ancient volcanoes in Hew Hampshire.
Thanks for sharing all this information and the interesting links.


1HappyHiker said...

. . . and Rita, thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments about this report and its links! It’s great to read that I was able to bring back some memories of your treks through the woodlands of the Eastern U.S.!