John Burroughs said “To find new things, take the path you took yesterday” and of course he was right. I thought of him last year when I found spring beauties I had been walking by for years and then I thought of him again on this day, when I found sessile leaved bellwort growing right beside the trail I’ve hiked so many times. I’m always amazed by how much I miss, and that’s why I walk the same trails again and again. It’s the only way to truly know a place.
See New Hampshire Garden Solutions, Exploring Nature in New Hampshire.
When heading out for a springtime hike or forest walk, be sure to look for the showy flowers of the hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides). The hobblebush is a shade loving deciduous shrub with sprawling branches, which will root if they touch the ground. The photo above, taken while hiking at Mount Sunapee State Park, shows the flat-topped clusters of white flowers of the hobblebush.
Voices & Views shares The Nature of Phenology, Episode 123, Hobblebush
Large clusters of hobblebush flowers can be found now. Not only do hobblebush flowers trick pollinators into landing on them, but the plants really do trip walking animals and careless hikers more than your average shrub—hence the name hobblebush.
“Enjoy. I find inspiration and comfort by connecting with women who share their outdoor experiences and stories.” A Friends of Mount Sunapee volunteer organizer shares She Explores, the podcast by Gail Straub of Dover. N.H.
The Mount Sunapee Advisory Commission will hold a teleconference meeting on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. This meeting will discuss operating plans for the state-owned ski area and is open to the public. There will be an opportunity for public comment.
Commissioner Sarah Stewart, Department of Natural and Cultural Resource, chairs the advisory committee.
The meeting agenda includes:
- Discussion of the Annual Operating Plan for 2020-2021 submitted by Vail/Mount Sunapee Resort
- Update by Vail/Mount Sunapee Resort
- Update on the Cooperative Maintenance Agreement (pdf) that pertains to the public hiking trails in the leasehold area, including the Summit Trail
- Process and planning for the next five-year development and environmental management plans (2021-2025) for the ski area
- Public comment on the annual plan
See the agenda here: MSAC Agenda 2020June9 (pdf)
The Annual Operating Plan submitted to the agency by Vail/Mount Sunapee Resort is posted on the MSAC webpage, and available here:
Call-in info for Mount Sunapee June 9 meeting
Dial 800-356-8278 and enter the conference pin 671812. Then, state your name when asked, which enters you into the call.
If you have difficulty connecting to the conference system, you can contact NH State Parks by phone at 603-271-2976 or by email at email@example.com.
Check out the FOMS resource pages for more information.
- NH State Parks and Recreation
- Prior Annual Operating Plans and Minutes
- Public Involvement and Oversight Policy for the Mount Sunapee Ski Area (pdf)
- MSAC Committee Roster (pdf)
NOTE: If you’re interested in issues related to public policy and the management of our public lands at Mount Sunapee State Park, please contact us.
This week, the Newbury Fire and Rescue Department posted on Facebook the following advisory about parking and Mount Sunapee hiking alternatives.
Hiking to Lake Solitude on Mount Sunapee can be a great adventure with a great view. However, this spring the number of hikers on the Andrew Brook trail has resulted in dangerous conditions on Newbury’s Mountain Road. On some weekends, cars parked on both sides of Mountain Road have narrowed the road to one lane, making the road so narrow that the fire apparatus is not able to get through. Because of the possibility that emergency vehicles will not be able to reach the homes on Mountain Road and beyond, The Newbury Police will be restricting parking to designated areas on one side of Mountain Road in the area of the trailhead.
Hikers are advised that there is plenty of parking in the main lot at Mount Sunapee Resort for the Summit Trail and in Lot 3 for the Newbury Trail which both will take hikers to Lake Solitude as well as all of the other hiking trails on Mount Sunapee.
Please be considerate of the safety of Newbury residents and plan your hike from the trailheads at Mount Sunapee Resort/State Park
FOMS Note: Be safe. Be well. Be Local.
As we all respond to how to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ski area operators across the country have responded, as well. Vail – Mount Sunapee Resort closed Sunday for at least one week. And we saw, on Sunday, outdoor enthusiasts turning to quiet hikes of the Summit Trail.
A FOMS volunteer wrote to us about her Sunday outing, “I did not summit, but got to 2300-feet, ate my apple, and listened to a bird’s very soft sweet song.”
Families and solo hikers were out on the trail.
Ski area respond to COVID-19
Vail Resorts decided last Saturday, March 14, it would close for at least one week all of its North American resorts, including the state-owned ski area at Mount Sunapee. According to the company’s news release, Vail was shutting down 34 resorts starting Sunday through March 22.
The other state-owned ski area, Cannon Mountain, is remaining open “with sharply curtailed services,” according to its COVID-19 response:
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY (March 17th)
Under the directive of Governor Sununu, Cannon Mountain is to remain open until further notice, but with sharply curtailed services in order to reduce guest / guest and staff / guest interaction. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we work hard to provide you with skiing services while trying to meet both the Governor’s directives and CDC guidelines.
Concord Monitor recently reported on ski operations around the state, some areas are staying open and have COVID-19 advisories posted on their websites.
Courtesy of the Eagle Times, July 28, 2018, this article by Steve Russell, president of Friends of Mount Sunapee, reports on a recent hike with conservation ecologist Chris Kane.
“Mount Sunapee contains as much as 10 percent of all the known ancient forest in New Hampshire, and the great majority south of the White Mountains.” – Chris Kane, June 30, 2018
In a walk through time into a forest never logged or otherwise affected by human endeavors, Chris Kane, conservation ecologist, led our small group of hikers last weekend into Mount Sunapee State Park’s primeval forest. Over the course of a three-and-a-half-hour journey, we hikers heard this naturalist identify and interpret the complexity of Sunapee’s ancient forests…
So, like those who were drawn to Sunapee’s rare forests over a century ago, we emerged from the forest with a new appreciation for the uniqueness of this special part of Mount Sunapee State Park and with an understanding that these forests represent the last vestige of wilderness in this region of New Hampshire: they are what make Mount Sunapee State Park unique, and we should do everything we can to ensure that they are permanently protected.
Read more via the Eagle Times, The primeval forests of Mount Sunapee
The ancient forest on Mount Sunapee
Members of the hiking community around Mount Sunapee put their enthusiasm for a popular trail to Lake Solitude to work and quickly helped the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society) raise funds to conserve the property where the trail begins.
The Forest Society purchased the 33-acre trailhead property, off Mountain Road in Newbury, in order to protect access to the Andrew Brook Trail, said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.
“So many people who love this trail assumed that the trailhead was part of Mount Sunapee State Park, but in fact it was privately owned and therefore vulnerable when it came up for sale,” Difley said. “Now that the Forest Society owns it, public access is protected, and we want to thank the fans of this trail for helping to secure it.”
The Andrew Brook Trail is a 2-mile ascent up Andrew Brook on the eastern side of Mt. Sunapee to Lake Solitude, a pristine pond surrounded by conifers. It then meets up with other trails leading to the scenic White Ledges area and to Mount Sunapee’s peak. Read more…
A new Greenway Super Map is now available from the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club. Price: $10.00. The full color map (18 x 24 in size) includes all trail highlights of the Greenway, from Mount Monadnock to Pitcher Mountain on side one, and Pitcher Mountain to Mount Sunapee on the other side. All feeder trails on Mount Monadnock, Mount Sunapee and in Pillsbury State Park are included, as are section mileages, shelter locations, trail history, water source locations, GPS coordinates for all points of interest, and more.
For ordering information, visit the trail club website store at www.msgtc.org/store
The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club (MSGTC) is a non-profit organization that formed in 1994. It’s mission includes trail maintenance efforts along the 48-mile hiking trail and to provide support for their volunteers and trail adopters, and to promote awareness of the natural beauty of The Greenway.
When the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society) posted on Facebook a plan to buy a property in Newbury that hosts the trailhead of a hiking route to Lake Solitude on Mt. Sunapee, hikers who know the Andrew Brook Trail responded quickly.
They posted phrases like “Love this hike,” “One of my favorite spots” and “Best way to hike Sunapee.”
“Those posts told us we were working on a project that would make a lot of people very happy,” said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.
There are three major hiking trails on Mt. Sunapee, but only one, the Summit Trail, is entirely within Mt. Sunapee State Park. The Andrew Brook Trail is one of two others that cross private land before entering permanently protected land in the state park. Access to the trailhead has been at the generosity of the landowner and could be denied by any future landowner.
The Forest Society offered to buy the land, 33 acres off of Mountain Road in Newbury, when it came up for sale recently, and has a purchase-and-sales agreement with the landowner. First, however, the organization must raise $110,000 to cover the purchase, legal fees and future stewardship costs.
“We are reaching out to the hiking community and friends and neighbors in the Newbury area to ask for their support of our plan to protect the trailhead,” Difley said.
The Andrew Brook Trail ascends along Andrew Brook and climbs through a beech, birch and maple forest for two miles before reaching Lake Solitude, a pristine pond surrounded by conifers. It then connects to the Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway’s 75-mile trail system and continues to the scenic cliffs of the White Ledges area and Mt. Sunapee’s summit.
“Most hikers of these heavily used trails have no idea that only the generosity of a private landowner allows access to the State Park,” said Gerry Gold, of the Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway Coalition. “Thus it is a rare opportunity when the hikers and the hiking community have an opportunity to help purchase such important access and permanently protect that access for themselves and future generations of hikers.”
In 2006, the Forest Society led a campaign to purchase a conservation easement on 1,100 acres of land on the eastern slope of Mt. Sunapee. This easement protects the middle section of the Andrew Brook Trail and was a collaboration celebrated by partners including the Newbury Conservation Commission, Cardigan Highlanders Volunteer Trail Crew, the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, Friends of Mount Sunapee and the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway.
In 2010 the Goubert family of Sunapee donated 75 acres of land next to the 33-acre property the Forest Society now seeks to buy.
Difley said the property’s value for hiking is the most obvious reason to protect it, but it also contains hardwood forest that protects water quality of Andrew Brook and several feeder streams, and it provides excellent wildlife habitat. She said the organization is seeking to raise the money necessary to complete the project by Jan. 20.
More information about the project and how to donate, visit www.forestsociety.org.
Enjoy and explore the Summit Trail at Mount Sunapee State Park. The SooNipi Magazine, always a fun and informative read, delivers in its summer (2015) issue an article that takes you for a hike up the Summit Trail. Learn what makes this area of our state park so special and why this favorite hiking trail is now at risk! Read (download/view):
You can pick up the SooNipi at various distribution sites in West-Central New Hampshire, or download/view the article by clicking on the link above.
For some, Mount Sunapee State Park conjures up images of alpine skiing. For many others, however, the park represents a smorgasbord of outdoor recreation opportunities – including hiking, hunting, nature study, backpacking, snowshoeing, and more. All are available at no cost in our public park. The Summit Hiking Trail on Mount Sunapee’s west flank offers access to all of the aforementioned non-skiing activities, and is a personal favorite…
The Summit Hiking Trail lies directly in the path of the proposed western expansion of the ski area. As currently planned, the hiking trail will be bisected at least half a dozen times by new ski slopes, and a new lift line will be gouged out of the heart of the ancient forest community. The closed forest canopy will now feature ski runs, towers for a ski lift, and pipelines and guns for snowmaking. The trail will still be there, possibly re-routed, but the peaceful woodland hike that exists today will be changed forever. – “Hiking Mount Sunapee’s Summit Trail” by Gary Stansfield
To learn how you can help protect the Summit Trail, contact FOMS today!
“Enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities of New Hampshire state park properties. Join us as stewards of these natural wonders and help us to preserve them for future generations.” – New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, Explore, para. 3, 2014
Photo: Hiking along the forested Summit Trail at Mount Sunapee State Park, December 16, 2014. Courtesy photo.
What is the history of the Summit Trail?
“The Summit Trail was developed with NH State Parks and Trails Bureau assistance in the early 1990s expressly to provide hikers with a woodlands trail away from ski operations. Development of the trail was related to the early history of the SRK Greenway Coalition, incorporated in 1993. A 1997 memorandum between DRED/Parks and the three volunteer trail groups maintaining hiking trails in the Park recognized trail responsibilities of these volunteer groups. The 75-mile SRK Greenway connects 4 State Parks, 3 State Forests, and land conserved by NH Fish and Game as well as town and private properties. The SRKG also links with the 50-mile Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway and Pillsbury State Park. In sum, hiking trails and the broader conserved landscapes which those trails traverse are crucial to the future of both New Hampshire’s self-identity and long-term recreational economy. — Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Coalition, letter to Comm. Rose (DRED) in response to Mount Sunapee Resort’s Master Development Plan for 2015-2019.