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08 May 2016

Abandoned Beech Hill Trail (Easton, NH) and Other Ramblings Along NH 112


In early May 2016,  I had a short block of time to drive along the western end of the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112).   I took advantage of this opportunity by hiking about a mile up the abandoned Beech Hill Trail (Easton, NH).  I also made a brief stop at the trailhead for the Cooley Hill Trail where I walked about 300 feet up the trail to view the picturesque cascade along Dearth Brook.  And I made one other stop at the tiny settlement of Swiftwater, NH to get a roadside view of their waterfall and covered bridge.

My route of travel is highlighted in yellow on the map shown below, and the 3 pink dots show the 3 stops I made along the way.


Using information gleaned from vintage editions of the White Mountain Guide, it appears that this trail was officially abandoned sometime in the mid 1980s.   Below is a map showing the route of the abandoned Beech Hill Trail which ran 3.5 miles between NH 112 (Kancamagus Hwy) and its juncture with the Reel Brook Trail.

There is still a remnant of what was presumably the trailhead parking lot, located just a short distance west of Wildwood Campground.  And there is an old signboard at the beginning of the abandoned trail.  The next photo shows the old signboard, and shows my parked car at the old trailhead.

For the mile or so that I followed the abandoned Beech Hill Trail, the corridor was still follow-able, but is being reclaimed by what else . . . beech trees!

The lower (south end) of the Beech Hill Trail closely follows the east bank of Black Brook which has a number of small but picturesque cascades.   The two cascades shown in the next photo are actually connected!  The cascade in the LEFT PANEL empties into a pool, and then that pool empties to form the cascade shown in the RIGHT PANEL.  I was unable to find a vantage point to capture both cascades together.   Maybe I'll find a spot on another trek!

And shown below is another photo taken along Black Brook.  This is a scene looking downstream as the brook works its way through a narrow passage.


Shown below is a snapshot taken of the cascade along Dearth Brook.  It's located off the Cooley Hill Trail, about 300 ft from the trailhead.  To view this cascade, you need to bushwhack about 20 feet off the east side of the trail.  In the World Waterfall Database, the unofficial name for this place is "Dearth Brook Falls".


Shown below is the snapshot taken of the waterfall and covered bridge in the tiny settlement of Swiftwater, NH.

There have been several bridges constructed at this site.  The first bridge was built in 1810 and carried away by flood in 1818. That same year, the bridge was replaced only to be destroyed by a flood in 1828. The third bridge lasted through 1849 when it was replaced by the current bridge in 1977.  This section of river was used to float logs to a sawmill.  Oftentimes, log jams presented a hazard to the bridge. In one case, dynamite was used to break up a log jam.  Although the blast was successful, logs had to be removed from the roof of the bridge!

The Swiftwater Bridge (a.k.a. Bath Bridge) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



Rita Wechter said...

Well, I'm happy to see that Beech trees are reclaiming the Beech trail! Do you know the reason this trail was abandoned?

As always, you've highlighted several picturesque cascades. I love all the different shades of green represented in the photo of the cascade along Dearth Brook!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Yes, I think it’s only fitting that the Beech trees are reclaiming the old Beech Hill Trail. They are the rightful “owners” of the land! (smile)

As to why the trail was abandoned, I saw nothing in any of the guidebooks that provided any definitive reason. I suspect it was because the corridor eventually became so lightly used. This is pure speculation on my part, but perhaps before travel by automobile became commonplace, this trail once served a purpose by connecting the Wildwood area with the Reel Brook Trail.


Kate said...

Hey Happy Hiker!

Where is the "old" trailhead for Beech Hill trail located? It's a trail I've been wanting to do for some time now and I can't seem to locate the 112 start point. Thanks for your help!

Happy Trails

1HappyHiker said...

Kate, as indicated in my blog posting, the trailhead for the abandoned Beech Hill Trail is located just a short distance west of Wildwood Campground.

To be a bit more precise, travel WEST on Rt.112 for about 700 ft (just a bit over 1/10th of a mile) beyond the entrance to Wildwood Campground. If you look carefully on the right (north) side of the road, you can see faint remnants of a small trailhead parking area. The old trail begins behind this parking area which is now nothing but a flat area overgrown with weeds and grass. In my blog posting, there is a photo showing my car parked at this old trailhead lot.

If you use a GPS, the coordinates for the old trailhead are: 44.0775, -71.7973