The Cockermouth Forest came under the stewardship of the SPNHF (Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests) in 1991 when William Wadsworth donated 1,002 acres of his property as part of his estate plan. The name “Cockermouth Forest" has historical significance. The forest is located in the town of Groton which was known from 1760 to 1790 as the town of Cockermouth. For more information about the Cockermouth Forest, click HERE.
As the crow flies, the entrance to the SPNHF land is only about 8 miles west of Plymouth, NH. It's on North Groton Road where there is a sign that reads “Cockermouth Forest: John F. Woodhouse Trail”. From there, you drive down a 300’ fairly passable road to a small parking area. The sign is only visible when headed northbound on North Groton Road. If you are travelling southbound, the entrance will be the first left after Orchard Hill Road. (You can plug the following coordinates into mapping software, or to your GPS to see the precise location: N 43° 43' 40.45", W 71° 50' 32.28".)
From the very onset of this hike I was impressed! Just a few steps away from the trailhead parking is a large sign (see next photo) with a canister that contains trail maps.
|Sign at trailhead|
Highlighted in yellow on the map below is the route for the 5.2 mile counterclockwise loop that I did on 15-April-2013.
|Map showing the route for 5.2 mile loop hike|
As I hiked the trail system, I continued to be impressed. The trails overall are generally in good shape. Also, they are well-blazed, and well-signed. Some of the blazing and signage appears to be relatively recent. The next photo is a collage of just a few of the many signs that I saw during the hike.
|A few of the many trail signs seen along the hike|
Also, on the portion of the hike that traverses Bald Knob and Mt. Crosby, there are a number of old trail markers left over from the days when volunteers from Camp Mowglis maintained trails on these mountains, as well as other nearby locations.
|Old trail marker from days when Camp Mowglis maintained trails on these mountains|
The majority of my hike was on snow-free trails, such as shown in the next photo.
|Majority of my hike was on snow-free trails|
However, there were several segments of trail that still had some significant snow, such as shown in the next photo. Fortunately, these segments were short-lived, and were easily negotiated with bare boots.
|A few segments of snow still had significant snow|
Punch Brook (and its tributaries) weave its way through the trail system. The next two snapshots show a couple of different aspects to this attractive brook.
|Punch Brook flowing gently|
|Punch Brook flowing rapidly over a cascade|
So, up to this point I've not mentioned the distant vistas that are available from the ledges on Bald Knob and on Mt. Crosby. My first stop was Bald Knob where there were views in all directions. However, my personal opinion was that the vista overlooking Newfound Lake was the most noteworthy scene from this location (see next photo).
|Newfound Lake as viewed from Bald Knob|
After exploring the many ledges on Bald Knob, I headed over to Mt. Crosby where the vistas were more impressive, in my opinion. But before showing some examples of the views from Mt. Crosby, I feel compelled to bring up Cervantes' novel entitled "Don Quixote". There is an episode where Don Quixote fights windmills that he imagines to be giants. An excerpt from this novel states:
"Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."
My point to the above quote is that the views from the ledges on Mt. Crosby are marvelous, but there are wind turbines within your line of sight. The next photo shows the wind turbines in the foreground with an impressive lineup of high peaks on the distant horizon that begin with Mt. Moosilauke (on left) to mountains in the Sandwich Range (on right).
|Lineup of high peaks on distant horizon Mt. Moosilauke (left); Sandwich Range (right)|
It is possible to get a few views from Mt. Crosby that don't include wind turbines, but you need to work at it! Shown below is one such view.
|View from Mt. Crosby without wind turbines|
At the summit of Mt. Crosby is a memorial plaque which is shown in the following photo.
|Memorial plaque atop Mt. Crosby|
After visiting Mt. Crosby, I headed westward to do something called the Cliffs Loop. While en route, I stopped to take a look at the remains of an old homestead known as the Remick Place (circa 1830).
|Remains of an old homestead known as the Remick Place (circa 1830)|
The Cliffs Loop was a fun scamper along a long narrow ledge. It sort of reminded me of a miniature version of a place known as The Hogsback (Benton, NH area) where I hiked about a year ago. The next snapshot shows a segment of the ledge along the Cliffs Loop.
|A segment of the ledge along the Cliffs Loop|
From various points along the ledges on the Cliffs Loop, I could see portions of Little Pond through the treetops, such as shown in the next photo.
|A portion of Little Pond seen through the treetops from ledges on Cliffs Loop|
Also seen from Cliffs Loop was a view of Mt. Cube (next photo)
|Mt. Cube as viewed from ledges on Cliffs Loop|
However, the view from the Cliffs Loop that I liked the best was from the backside of the loop. From here, I got a view of the two peaks that I'd visited earlier in the day, i.e. Mt. Crosby and Bald Knob (see next photo).
|Mt. Crosby and Bald Knob as viewed from the backside of ledges on the Cliffs Loop|
To sum it up, this trek to Cockermouth Forest is something that has been on my list to do for a couple of years. It was a pleasurable experience and very worthwhile.