North Uncanoonuc Mountain (1,324 feet). Goffstown, NH. 2020-04-29 (Wednesday.)
Via White Dot Trail. About a mile and three quarters, round trip. Budget about an hour of hiking time. Kid friendly, as long as mom and dad don’t mind carrying younger ones for some amount of time.
A quick climb to a long view.
Temps in the low 50s. Winds were negligible. Overcast/cloudy throughout.
Another day, another local hike. A coworker had been telling me to do this one, and even amped up the pressure by going out with another coworker a couple weeks ago. Eventually it was going to happen, and today, the stars lined up. And even if it stays in my repertoire of training hikes, this one is pretty nifty and well worth anyone’s time.
We set out from the White Dot trailhead. Almost immediately, the trail pitched upward very resolutely. I really don’t think you hike this stretch so much as climb it. To be clear, the White Dot on Grand Monadnock has far more strenuous stretches, but Uncanoonuc will still make your calves burn, even if for only a short stretch of time.
Our munchkin, of course, charged ahead, undaunted, as is the exclusive privilege of youth. Y’know, watching that unfold keeps us grownups young. I promise. We were perhaps two thirds of the way in when the grade softened remarkably. Usually, you experience the easy grades early, and then things pitch upward in the second half. This was the direct opposite of that ideal.
For the kiddo, there was a minor amount of mud to be examined here and there, but for the most part, the trail was dry, covered in the usual leaf litter and duff typical of a lower elevation forest. Not far from the trailhead, there was a small cave of sorts — really just a rock ledge, but it looks like some folks built a wall on one end. Perhaps it was to support that ledge, which did appear to be sagging more than slightly. Either way, its layers invited examination and contemplation. A lot of time wrapped up in those rocks. A lot of slow expression of patient geologic energy, too.
It wasn’t very long at all before we stood on top, and a very large hole in the trees yielded a magnificent view of South Uncanoonuc, crowned with its manmade forest of transmission antennas. To the left, views of Manchester. There was talk of Boston being visible on good days, but today, that view was attenuated by the weather. The summit has a lot of room up there, where a small group could easily enjoy a picnic lunch on a warm afternoon. We enjoyed that view, and shared some brief conversation with some other hikers, before turning back.
Heading down, we noted a stretch of exposed rock along the footpath, and of course young children will make it abundantly clear when gravity has unexpectedly taken control of the situation. Given a few moments, the chaos will calm down, and they’ll charge ahead again, a little wiser for their brief lesson in why it’s important to watch where they’re going. (And yes, I know very well that this lesson requires constant recalibration through life.) Guided lessons showed that grass and duff is far softer than rock. A walk in the woods always expands the mind of young and old. That little buckaroo might just be a fountain of youth.
We got back to the car a little over an hour after we started. This wasn’t, by far, the hardest hike out there. But time and time again, you realize that these short little jaunts pack an amazing amount into a small package.
As always, stay safe out there.
Nuts and Bolts: Parking is on Mountain Road, in Goffstown. There’s a small lot, but you should be able to find a spot most days. (Of course, Your Mileage May Vary, so be prepared.) Cross the street and the trail will be readily apparent. Blazes are the bottom of tin cans, painted white, and nailed to trees. You won’t have a problem spotting them, but if in doubt, walk up the obvious path.
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2 thoughts on “Trip Report: Climbing Quickly Up Uncanoonuc”
I just happen to have read Thourau’s TheConcord and The Merrimack in which he visits Uncannunuc Mountain in chapter 7. It’s wonderful to read how different the experience of the outdoorsman could be 170 years ago. The edition illustrated by Henry Bugbee Kane is a bonus for the imagination.
I haven’t read that work specifically, but I agree that stories from the past really paint the mountains that we know in a much different light. Thinking of Thoreau, and how he turned back on Katahdin at the Tableland (which is only about an hour or so from the summit!) but he didn’t have the benefit of hundreds of thousands of hikers across the years tramping out an easily hiked trail. We’ve got it so easy these days!