Recreation

Hiking the Chimney Trail in Eaton, New Hampshire

This trail, which crosses through both Eaton and Freedom, New Hampshire is local to us. I had never been up it before and was intrigued by the relatively low incline of the trail on topographical maps as well as the promised views from the top. The trail we took also had nine geocaches along it.

There are several ways up to the end of this trail. The most popular trailhead is on Route 153 in Freedom. This trail is maintained by a snowmobile club. The way we came in was logged within the last 10 years at some point. The loggers have unfortunately left a lot of debris in the area, which is probably the reason snowmobiles do not enter the trail from Youngs Hill Road.

Here we are at the trailhead and then a little over 2/10 of a mile. We were about 3/4 of the way through the month of April in a mild year when we met with these conditions. The trail was very muddy with lots of ruts left over from the logging that was done. We did get around the mud, although all of us left with out shoes wet and muddy four hours later.

The good parts of the trail were like this. You can see it’s relatively dry and easy to follow.

The not-so-good parts were muddy with standing water or water running across the trail.

Here you can see a satellite view of the trail and what it actually looked like. There was a big water crossing in front of us. Fortunately, of we went to the left, we could avoid the water and cross on dry land. However, that was one of the steeper inclines of the trail. The right trail had a much gentler slope and ended up at the same location – which was where one of the geocaches was located on the trail. We ended up deciding on the steeper trail.

Once we were past here, the trail wasn’t as bad. There were some muddy spots but they were much easier to navigate around. There was one spot where the trail met up with another one that came from a different direction. I was worried about being on the correct trail to get back to where we started. There was an arrow there pointing in the direction we’d come from, leading me to believe there might be some private property where the owners didn’t want the snowmoiles crossing. We also met up with two people on the trail who had come in on the trail from the trailhead on Route 153. They said that route was just as muddy. They were on the way back out and we were on the way up, so we just stopped for a moment to chat while practicing social distancing.

The views from the top are spectacular. The last 1/4 mile was a little tough with the incline. I stopped a couple of times to catch my breath. Once up there, even with the nice day, the wind blowing made it chilly. Still, the views are well worth it. I imagine the chimney is left over from a time there might have been a fire tower up here as the views from the area are conducive to this purpose. It was probably part of the home for the people who manned the tower.

The way back down seemed much easier. I measured it and we walked 2.1 miles from the top of the trail down to the trailhead. The trail is rated as “intermediate”. We did okay on this. It took us four hours total. We were slowed down by the debris in the trail and having to go around the water and mud, as well as searching for geocaches. We found 8 out of 9 geocaches on the trail.

All in all, we had a good day and got exercise and fresh air along with appreciating the beauty of nature not far from our home.

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