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21 April 2013

A Surprise Repeat Visit to Cooley Hill (Easton, NH)

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. 


RetiredInNH said...

Hi John,

Weird coincidence ... just home from Cooley Hill and saw your post. First time there for me, seeking snow-free trails (low elevation, south facing).

Unexpectedly pleasant hike, WMG description was not too encouraging :)

Have you hiked neighboring Cobble Hill? Seems rather similar from the write up.



1HappyHiker said...

Hi Mohamed,

Perhaps it was no coincidence that both you and I hiked this same trail just 1-day apart. Like you, I was also seeking a trail that was snow-free, south-facing, and free of any tricky water crossings. The hike to Cooley Hill seemed to be a great fit for those criteria. Also, I think your description of this hike is totally accurate, i.e. an “unexpectedly pleasant hike”.

You asked if I have done the nearby Cobble Hill hike. The short answer is “sort of”! I have never hiked the trail all the way to the end. I once did a bushwhack off the Cobble Hill Trail to reach a ledge which may (or may not) have been the spot named Moody Ledge on the topo maps. Below is a link to my Trip Report for that adventure. It contains all the details.

Further regarding the Cobble Hill Trail, on another occasion I split off the hiking trail onto a snowmobile trail to reach the abandoned village of Whitcherville. That is a very interesting hike which you might enjoy. However, be mindful that there are parts of this snowmobile trail which are often very muddy and wet. Below is a link to my Trip Report for my Whitcherville visit.

Steve Smith has also visited Whitcherville and posted an excellent report. Below is a link to his Trip Report.

Best wishes to you Mohamed for “happy trails”!


RetiredInNH said...

Thqanks for the fascinating links!!


Anonymous said...

Funny I mentioned this one to my husband not too long ago as one to do this spring, but he insists we did it and I have no recollection of it! Even looking at your pictures does nothing to jog it. May have to go back!

Headed up to littleton today (Monday) to hike Eustis and another one you mentioned (which the name I can't remember and will look in your archives for directions! Somewhere in town, I think it was another abandoned ski trail? Then a stop off at Village bookstore if time! Bringing my bike so if I have time I can bike part of the amonoosic rail trail!

Thanks for postong, I got a good giggle out of your forgetfulness, since I suffer from that constantly with regards to hikes!

Hiking lady

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Hiking Lady,

Hope you have a wonderful time in the Littleton area. It was supposed to be sunny today, but now they're predicting cloudiness. Oh well! Guess the unpredictability is "predictable" here in the mountains!

Regarding my "forgotten" hike to Cooley Hill, I normally check my hiking log before going on a hike to determine the last time I'd done the hike. Well, this time I didn't bother since I was absolutely certain that it had been several years since I'd visited this location. WRONG!

Thanks for posting your comments!


Anonymous said...

Spectacular views. I agree with your assessment of the wood carving, looks like a wolf or dog.

keith dall said...

Hi john,
Nice report. Those aren't antler rubs. That is where the moose strip off the bark with their teeth. Antler rubs look different. Saw you found a antler in Jan. Good find.

Keith D'Alessandro

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Keith,

Great to hear from you! Thank you for correcting my faux pas about the moose!

Am I correct that moose only have lower incisors, and therefore when they scrape the bark off with their teeth they only scrape upwards (as shown in my photo)? But when they rub the bark with their antlers, they scrape up and down and therefore leave marks that peal the bark in both directions?


1HappyHiker said...


Thanks for taking time to post your comments!

Regarding the wood carving/sculpture, that is certainly a unique piece. I wonder if the artist ever dreamt that the creation would end up on a Blog!? :-)


Rita Wechter said...

Hi John,

The views on this hike are spectacular, as always. But I especially appreciate your attention to the individual trees in the forest! Regarding the teeth-stripped bark, I think that I see several other smaller trees in the background that have had their bark stripped also. Do you think it was just one moose? A group of them?

And finally, I laughed when I read the part about you not remembering that you had done this hike only a little over a year ago. I've noticed that I'm starting to lose track of time—thinking that something that happened only a year ago happened many years ago, or vice versa. It's scary!!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Thank you for your comments, Rita!

Regarding your moose question, the area had an abundance of moose droppings, and there were a lot of trees with evidence of bark-stripping. And so, I think there are likely several moose in that area. Can’t help but feel we could’ve seen moose if we had the time to sit there quietly for a while.

It is indeed comical, and a bit scary, about losing track of time. Perhaps it’s just an excuse, but I’m thinking that in this particular case, my mind got confused since I cross-country skied on the lower end of that trail several times this past winter. And somehow that made the hike to the summit seem to be in the distant past, rather than just a little over a year ago. In other words, too much information for my feeble brain to keep track of! :-)


Summerset said...

I'm surprised you hiked this twice too! But, this time was in spring and if you went in Feb. last year, then you've been in two different seasons, so it was different. Very cool that it still has a fire tower! BTW, hope Marty will continue to recover and join you on future adventures.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Summerset,

Hmmm! You make a good point! Although it just marginally meets my criteria of doing something different on each of my hikes, it was technically a “different” hike since it was done in two different seasons of the year.
Oh! And since I didn’t recall doing this hike just over a year ago, I guess that makes it “new” all over again! :-)

On behalf of Marty, thank you for the well-wishes extended to him. And, also thank you for taking time to post your comments . . . greatly appreciated, as always!