Well, I've officially "lost it"! Upon sitting down to write this Blog report, I reviewed my hiking logbook. I was shocked to discover that I'd hiked to Cooley Hill in February 2012. When proposing this hike to my friend Marty, I told him that it had been several years since I'd last visited this location. Oh well! It was still a pleasant hike (again), and it was good to be back out on the trails with Marty who has been sidelined for several months with a foot injury that is now healed.
Cooley Hill is reached by hiking the Jericho Road Trail. The trailhead is located on NH 116 (1.9 miles north of its junction with NH 112). The White Mountain Guide describes the trail as ". . . originally constructed as a horse trail and mostly follows logging roads of varying ages". And I also seem to recall reading somewhere that the trail corridor was used by the fire tower staff as their jeep road to access the fire tower.
This little-used trail is never overly steep. It gains 1,250 ft elevation which is spread out over the trail's distance of about 3.2 miles. On the day of this hike, the trail was basically in excellent condition. However, it is early Springtime and therefore there were muddy spots, and a few widely scattered patches of snow/ice.
Regarding views, about 4 to 5 years ago, the Forest Service opened up a viewpoint on the east side of the trail about 0.1 mile from where the trail officially ends at the old Cooley Hill firetower. There is no sign to mark the entrance to the short side path that leads to the viewpoint. However, it is fairly obvious as you make your final approach to the firetower. The next photo shows the viewpoint as you approach it.
|Approach to viewpoint located about 0.1 mile from abandoned Cooley Hill firetower|
The vista from the viewpoint is rather narrow, but does provide a pleasant look at peaks in the Franconia Range.
|Franconia Range as viewed from side path near abandoned Cooley Hill firetower|
Besides this official viewpoint, there are at least two other "unofficial" viewpoints. One is located at about 1.7 miles from the trailhead (at about 2,000 ft elevation). If you do a short 400 ft bushwhack eastward from the trail, you'll find an old logging cut that provides a view of the Kinsmans (see photo below).
|North and South Kinsman as viewed from old logging cut|
Another "unofficial" viewpoint is reached by following a snowmobile trail for a few tenths of a mile northward beyond the ruins of the old firetower. From this corridor you can see features in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom region, such as shown in the next two snapshots.
|Willoughby Gap as viewed from a point north of abandoned Cooley Hill firetower|
|Burke Mountain and surrounding mountains in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom region|
Okay, so what about the firetower that I've mentioned above! About all I know is that it was a 40 ft tower built in the 1930s and removed in the 1950s. The photo below shows the ruins of this old tower.
|Abandoned Cooley Hill firetower|
Marty and I came across some trailside items that grabbed our attention. One of these objects was an odd-looking tree. I'm uncertain if it qualifies as an "Ent" from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings", but it was interesting nonetheless.
|An "Ent-like" tree from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"?|
Another curious trailside item was something that appears to be the result of a person who might have stopped to practice their wood sculpturing skills (next photo). Not exactly sure, but maybe this represents the face of a wolf, or a dog?
|Perhaps someone stopped along the trail to practice their wood sculpturing skills?|
And lastly, at several points along the trail we saw a lot of moose sign, including antler rub (next photo).
|One of several spots where there was evidence of "antler rub"|
To sum it up, it's so baffling as to why I'd forgotten about doing this same hike just a little over a year ago. But regardless of the hiking venue, it was good to be back out on the trails again with Marty.