Mountain Meander

Head for the hills — it’s cooler thereThe road through Sandwich Notch, laid out in 1801, climbs gently over one of the state’s least-known notches. It is unpaved and closed in winter.From I-93 Exit 24 in Ashland, follow Route 3 to Holderness, then Route 113 along the northern shore of Squam Lake, where the Squam Lake Science Center offers narrated nature cruises. Follow Route 113 to Center Sandwich, where Sandwich Home Industries has an extensive craft gallery. Leave the village on Grove Street, following the Sandwich Notch signs on one of the state’s most photographed signposts. In less than half a mile, bear left at the Y where Diamond Ledge Road enters.About a mile farther on the trees open out for views of Dinsmore Pond. In about two miles, look for parking on the right, with a trail to Beede Falls, where the Bearcamp River drops over granite ledges into a shallow pool. The overhanging ledge forms a cave under the falls, where legend holds that a cow took shelter and was found several days after wandering from one of several farms that once lay along the road. It’s hard to believe today that these woods were once cleared for pastures and crops. Follow the loop trail to the right along the stream to find glacial erratic boulders and a little flume where the river races between rock walls.Shortly past the falls the road enters the White Mountain National Forest and about a mile later is Pulpit Rock. Itinerant clergymen used the rock as a pulpit while preaching to valley farmers and their families. Behind it is a cliff that’s popular with rock climbers.The road climbs over a 1,776-foot high ridge at Sandwich Notch before dropping to meet Route 49. A 1.5-mile sidetrack to the left leads out of the National Forest to the William Tell, a Swiss restaurant known for its schnitzel, roesti and fondue. At the National Forest border The Eddy is a day-use area with picnic tables. Return to the intersection and continue as Route 49 climbs steadily, following Mad River northeast into Waterville Valley. Near the right turn that leads to the ski area is the trailhead for Sandwich Mountain, which misses being a 4,000-footer by a mere 7 feet. Waterville Valley Resort includes a lot more than skiing. Several lodging options include family-friendly condos and traditional hotel rooms and suites. Some of the lodges have their own indoor pools and the sports center (on your right) has an Olympic-length pool, along with a gym and the casual Coyote Grill. Hiking trails lead to a cascade, and the chairlift takes mountain bikers to the top of Snow Mountain to access 30 miles of trails for all skill and thrill levels.Beyond Town Square (at the pond to the left) follow Boulder Path Road past the cottage where the Reys, authors of the children’s Curious George books, spent many summers. Year-round children’s learning programs reflect their spirit, and The Papermill Children’s Theatre has performances at the Rey Center.Turn left onto West Branch Road and follow signs to >Tripoli (pronounced triple-eye) Road to the right. This backcountry lane winds through the forest beside West Branch as it climbs over Thornton Gap. About 9 miles from Waterville, a right turn leads to one of the state’s most peaceful campgrounds, on the shore of 46-acre Russell Pond, known for its good fishing. Along with 86 wooded campsites there is a boat ramp with handicapped access. About 4 miles beyond the Russell Pond turn-off, Tripoli Road ends at Route 175 and I-93 Exit 31.Barbara Radcliffe Rogers is co-author of the guidebook, “New Hampshire Off the Beaten Path.”

Categories: Things to Do