Cooley-Jericho Community Forest | 4/22/23
Despite not owning the 31st edition of the White Mountain Guide, I’m active enough on NETC to have heard how well-received the newly added Cooley Jericho Community Forest has been. After a glimpse of the bright signs atop my January climb of Cooley Hill, I was excited to try an ascent of the hill that wasn’t Jericho Road Trail. Enter the yellow, blue, and red trails ascending Cooley and Cole Hills.
Liz & I parked at the designated parking area (roadside, not pull-in) at the end of Trumpet Round Road, which made way to a kiosk at the base of the yellow and blue trails. From the base, we went left on the blue loop, which was somewhat muddy at first, then drier as we ascended. This trail required some attention- not for trail finding, but for trinket finding. I’m not even sure I could verbalize the things I saw (Peppa pig troll?), but it often felt like an imaginary fairy garden as we ascended to where the yellow trail met again. At one of the most populated fairy garden areas, there was a surprising outlook to the Kinsman Ridge after otherwise wooded travel.
Soon, we coincided with the yellow trail, (see: Mountain Bike Traverse on Gaia) and climbed another 820 feet to the summit of Cooley Hill, nicely outfitted with fire tower remnants. Upon the summit, I looked back at how many more blowdowns fell on Jericho Rd. trail in the last few months, inspected the messy-looking Cooley Hill Trail (not in the WMG), and then kept back towards the Red Trail.
At the yellow-red split, we began climbing again as we grabbed Cole Hill, #251 on the NH 500 Highest. Though Cooley Hill isn’t on the list, it’s obvious that the prominence wasn’t enough when comparing the gain of both peaks back to back.
Once the vista sign comes up, where there are also Granite Backcountry Alliance signs denoting glades 1-4, there is little to go to the summit sign, a red sign obscured by some trees. The canister was grim, as the roll of paper inside resembled more of a booger than a summit log. If anyone gets up there soon and has some watertight containers lying around, please replace them!
After we got off the red trail, the other side of the blue loop wasn’t the best. It was a whole lot of mud, two Gardner Snakes, and then some more mud. Once at the base, we out-and-backed the bottom of the yellow trail and then called it a day linking back over to the cars.
The CJCF offered us 9 miles of trails and about 2000 gain, not your average community forest!