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16 April 2013

A Loop Hike at Cockermouth Forest (near Plymouth, NH)


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.

19 comments:

  1. Excellent and very thorough report, John! That's a great little trail network. We had taken it out of the last (2009) AMC Southern NH Trail Guide because of the impending timber harvest at the recommendation of SPNHF. Now that the harvest is complete, we were planning to add it back in, and you report confirms that the trail system is in great shape. And now there are even trail maps provided. Too bad about those Don Quixote views. Thanks!

    Steve

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    1. Steve, thank you for such kind comments!

      As you say, that is indeed a great little trail network at the Cockermouth Forest. I wondered why it was not included in the current edition of the Southern NH Trail Guide. You’ve answered that question. Glad to learn that there are plans to add it back into the next edition.

      As I reported in my Blog, the trails that I travelled in my loop were overall in very good shape. The segment of the High Pasture Loop between the Beeline Trail and the Eliza Remick Road could use some brushing. However, it is very well blazed and easy to follow.

      John

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    2. Steve . . . just now ran across your Blog report for nearly the identical trek which you did in April 2009. Very nice report, and you received a great set of comments!
      http://mountainwandering.blogspot.com/2009/05/cockermouth-forest-bald-knob-mt.html

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  2. Great report John. I love to see these reports of places such as this. These smaller state parks that probably get overlooked by the majority of the hiking community. Thanks to people like yourself and Steve Smith, we are much more informed and aware of these little gems.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Joe

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    1. Hey Joe . . . thanks for your kind words.

      Steve Smith is “the man” when it comes to discovering these lesser-visited places. There are very few places that I’ve visited where Steve hasn’t already been there, sometimes even more than once! :-)

      Anyway, as I think you’d agree, it is fun and invigorating to hike to places that are new to you personally, regardless of how many folks might have been there before.

      John

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  3. John,

    Another fascinating small hike possibility, thank you.

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    1. Thank you Mohamed! The Cockermouth Forest is a great little trail system which offers quite a variety of hikes for its size.

      Best wishes to you for a pleasant hiking experience when you visit this location!

      John

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  4. I love that old trail marker/sign...

    Karl

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    1. Hi Karl,

      Yes, aren’t those old Camp Mowglis trail markers unique! There are still quite a number of them up there on the trail that traverses Bald Knob and Mt. Crosby. I’m just guessing that maybe teams of volunteers were sent out on the trails with their backpacks filled with those signs. Don’t know if the trails were fully marked with those signs over a summer, or over the course of several summers. Regardless, really neat stuff!

      John

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    2. John

      You were pretty close to Sculptured Rocks geologic sight. I checked them out one time when I was in the area. They are just 0.1 mile from the road. That is quite an impressive gorge. Even a quick 15 minute stop is rewarding.

      Jazzbo

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    3. @ Jazzbeaux: Thanks Ray for the tip about Sculptured Rocks! Very much appreciated! I’ll definitely stop by there the next time I’m in the area.

      John

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  5. OMG I live not far from there, and haven't heard of it... or have I? I hiked Mt. Crosby YEARS ago, and can no longer recall which way we went. I think whichever way we went we returned another time and there was a no trespassing sign so we were unable to do bald knob. (This was a very long time ago). I'll have to show this to my husband and see if he ever recalls us being there and try to figure where we entered from. Pathetic that after hiking for 26 years you forget where you've been and I could probably hike a hike again and never recall being there!!! Sort of like re-reading a book you forgot you've read!! Great pics and report! I am on vacation next week, so I may hit this one up!!! Thanks so much for posting this, I can't tell you how grateful I am for your blog, it has opened my eyes to so many new places!!

    Hiking Lady

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    1. Your comments are always such a pleasure to read, and your feedback about my Blog reports is greatly appreciated!

      I don’t know if this will be of any help in determining if you’ve ever hike to Mt. Crosby, but I’m told that there was (perhaps still is) another access point to the trail system from Tenney Road. I’m unfamiliar with that road, and so that’s as far as I can go with that! Regardless, I do know what you mean about sometimes failing to recall things done in the distant past. On the positive side, I guess one could rationalize that these forgotten adventures then become NEW adventures all over again! :-)

      John

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  6. There are so many treats on this hike—the nice trail conditions, great signage, a wonderful little brook, Cliffs Loop ledge, old homestead ruins, and the scenic views. An all-around excellent loop hike! It's too bad about the wind turbines, but I fear that ever more and intrusive energy extraction on our public lands is THE way of the future. Even so-called "clean" energy is not without it's drawbacks—interfering with wildlife, wild places, and "viewsheds".

    Luckily we can still enjoy places like Cockermouth Forest with its still-wild beauty, especially when you can manage to get a view from Mt. Crosby like the photo you took without the man-made distractions!

    Great post, John!

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    1. Rita, your comments are so right ‘on-target’!

      And, it’s terrific that there are organizations such as the SPNHF (Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests) who can craft together parcels of conserved land to create islands of wild-beauty for the public to enjoy.

      John

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  7. Thanks for the great tour John! We visited with Clay and Sandra last weekend and this post was an inspiration for Clay to suggest that we duplicate your trip. Sunday was the perfect day for this and we truly enjoyed it! They have done a wonderful job on the new trails and it will be an even nicer experience when they've had a few years to naturalize again. We followed your route with one exception - we ended by taking the .3 mile spur to Little Pond, and it turned out to be the nicest spot on a hike filled with many nice spots. You're going to need to return to check it out. It looks like a perfect place to visit in the fall when the colors around the shore come out.

    Thanks again for prompting our visit to somewhere we probably would never have otherwise discovered!

    Mark

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    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you for not only taking time to read my Blog, but also for taking time to post your comments!

      I definitely plan to make a return trip to that area and pay a visit to Little Pond. I might do it in conjunction with visiting the nearby Sculptured Rocks geologic sight (as suggested my Jazzbo in his comments to this posting).

      Anyway, thank you confirming that Little Pond is well-worth a visit. A couple of factors stopped me from including it in my hike. Using my binoculars while on the Cliff Loop trail, it appeared that the pond was still frozen which I felt would diminish its scenic value. Also, as you discovered, there is so much to be seen at Cockermouth. Much more time than anticipated was spent lingering at several spots along the route. By the time I completed the Cliff Loop, I was concerned that doing the additional 0.6 mile (round-trip) to Little Pond would run me late for an evening commitment.

      John

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  8. mt. Crosby & bald knob are worth the effort. unfortunately we cannot say the same for the cliff loop as heavy logging has all but ruined any sign of that trail. Unless we missed a sign we ran into fallen trees and so much logging debris that we eventually gave up, as we lost the trail completely. As I said, Crosby and bald knob are worth the trip! gps adress to 456 n Groton rd will get u there.

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    1. Thanks for the information you provided in your comments.
      Also, it’s very nice to learn that you at least had a pleasurable hike to Mt. Crosby and Bald Knob.

      John

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