New Hampshire Rail Trails: Hiking & Geocaching on the Presidential Rail Trail

Rail trails are a popular walking area that have come to many communities. Old railroad lines that have been abandoned are repurposed to recreational trails for the community.

The Presidential Rail Trail is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It’s 18 miles long, total, from Gorham, NH to Whitefield, NH. The old tracks and ties have been removed to create a nice, flat surface that is great for walking, jogging, biking, and horseback riding. Some sections do allow for ATV use. In the winter it’s used for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

The trail cuts through the mountains for some great scenery, even during our “mud season” before the trees have bloomed and everything looks barren.

We were there for geocaching. There are many caches along this trail. I started working on it years ago when I first started geocaching, and have been coming back to find a few more on each trip.

I’m about halfway through all of the geocaches on the trail.

I took my son and my grand-daughter on a section of the trail I hadn’t done yet. It headed east from Jefferson Notch Road. That road cuts through the mountains and has quite a few geocaches on it as well, but is closed by the Forest Service in the winter months.

The trail is pretty flat and doesn’t have much in the way of an incline. The section we walked ended up being about 5 miles, round-trip. We were tired at the end, but not like when we were hiking in the mountains. We found 15 of 16 geocaches hidden in this section.

One cache we found we couldn’t retrieve. Many people use old pill containers as geocache containers. This was wedged between two trees. As recently as last year, someone managed to get it out of it’s spot. When we arrived, for the first time anyone found the geocache in 2020, it was impossible to remove. The tree had grown around the container and would not let us remove it.

The only people we ran into that day were two people on bicycles. Because the Presidential Rail trail is so far north, many people avoid it as day-trips, preferring places that are closer to the larger cities in the south. It’s more popular with locals, and in the summer when people camp closer to this area.

We also found a pretty nifty swimming spot. If it had been warmer we probably would have done just that. I don’t know if this is as deep during the summer months. With the winter snow-melt, the water looked very inviting and crystal clear. Since there were some easy ways to get to the water around the bridge, I think people did come here and at least get their feet wet and cool off on hot days.

The water was part of the Israel River, which runs all along this section of the trail. It was so nice with all the time we’ve had to spend inside to be able to enjoy a beautiful spot like this.

This is a great trail with terrific scenery. In these days, it’s quiet status is also appealing. Whatever your activity, it’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy yourself some, even if it’s just a walk to take in the views.

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