Upon reading the title of this report, one might think that the word “Howk” is a misspelling of “Hawk”. But, such is not the case. Located near Randolph, NH is the Howker Ridge which was named after William Howker, a 19th century farmer who owned land at the base of the ridge. Along this ridge are four rocky knobs which have come to be known as “The Howks”.
On a day in late-June 2018, I only had enough time for an out-and-back hike to the “Fourth Howk” which sits above tree line at an elevation of 4,315 ft. This isn’t a conventional destination for most hikers, but it was a good fit for me on this particular day.
The round-trip mileage for this trek was about 5.8 miles with an elevation gain of about 2,750 ft. At a leisurely pace and with multiple stops for sightseeing, the round-trip took about 5 hours. This relatively modest adventure was launched from the Pine Link trailhead on Dolly-Copp Road. I hiked 2.8 miles on the Pine Link trail, and then an additional 0.1 mile on the Howker Ridge Trail to reach the Fourth Howk.
From the Fourth Howk, one could continue onwards and upwards to reach the top of Mt. Madison. However, that wasn’t my destination on this particular day. To my way of thinking, it’s sort of like when you get on an Interstate Highway. Once you’re on it, you’re not obliged to travel all the way to its terminus. It’s perfectly okay to end your journey at any point along the way. :-)
|My route of travel for this hike is highlighted in pink on LEFT panel of the image shown above. The RIGHT panel shows the four Howks circled in pink.|
|Mt. Madison as viewed from an outlook along the lower portion of Pine Link Trail|
|This photo of the rocky knobs known as “The Howks” was taken from a spot along the Pine Link Trail.|
|Zoomed view of Carter Notch from an outlook along the lower portion of Pine Link Trail|
|From an outlook along the Pine Link Trail, I took this highly-zoomed photo that features the cliff face of Rogers Ledge, and behind and to the left of it are the cone-shaped peaks of South and North Percy.|
|This photo is just a random shot taken along the trail while en route to Fourth Howk|
|I took these snapshots of Mountain Cranberry and Labrador Tea which were in bloom at various points along my route.|
TO SUM IT UP:
Traditionally, many folks think that a hike needs to involve a journey to a named destination (mountaintop, ledge, waterfall, etc) that’s described in a guidebook or is contained on some sort of a list. However, there are times when these conventional objectives are a poor fit because of factors such as time constraint, etc. So, perhaps this blog posting will serve to demonstrate that by doing some “out-of-the-box” thinking, it’s quite doable to construct a satisfying hike to custom-fit your particular needs.