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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Risitano

From Across The Pond - Red Hill & Mt. Rowe | 1/10/23

Updated: Jan 11, 2023

Last night I faced the problem that we all do after coming back from a 4-hour round trip drive to a hike, “do I seriously have to do this drive again tomorrow?” While the answer is obviously no, I could just stay at home, I wasn’t going to do that, so I decided to parse through my closer options on the trace spreadsheet.

Rattlesnake was fairly bare in my worksheet, but I’d promised my mom I’d take her with me. I didn’t want to do anything ledgey because of the ice, ruling out a few more, but Red Hill looked inviting. I had only read about Red Hill on the Fire Tower Quest list, but further reading suggested it would be a great option alongside Cabin Trail. I got a modestly late start and began about the same time as another party with a black lab. Going up Red Hill Trail, I was perfectly fine bare booting in all but maybe three spots, where I had to rely on my trekking poles for extra stability. Absent of this, the trail was wide and pleasant as it cruised through an open forest characteristic of the Squam region. This region’s common feature makes it my favorite place to solo hike, as it is much easier to see that the noise I mistake for a bear is in fact a red squirrel.

I am such a sucker for an informational kiosk

The trail was remarkably well marked with red diamonds and felt pretty even in grade the whole time, making the 1,305 gain feel like much less. At the summit, I was delighted to see such a tall fire tower but even more delighted to see there were views even without climbing it, especially as it was closed for winter. Soon, the party that started with me arrived as well and I got to hang out with their sweet black lab when they went up to the observation deck.

Red Hill Firetower

Views from the picnic table!

Once I was done taking in Lake Winnipesaukee, I came down Cabin Trail which required spikes until it reconnected with Red Hill Trail. For someone with better tread, it is certainly possible without traction. Along the way, Cabin Trail had similar grades to Red Hill but was more interesting in its meandering through an old cabin and various homestead cellar holes, most of which with a historical sign adjacent.

The door ajar made disobeying the sign tempting, but I've been good on hauntings so far so I didn't take any chances

Cellar hole!

The loop in its full was 3.73 miles with 1,305 gain and took me about 1:45 to complete. What a lovely little loop!

Having gotten my small 0.3% tracing fix of the day, I proceeded south toward Gilford to close up another one of my many projects, the Belknap 12. With just a 33-minute drive in between, it was super doable to get Rowe in and still arrive home for dinner plans so I parked in the Elementary School lot and got going.

A slick start

At first, I thought I was bound to succumb to my microspikes as I had 2 almost fallen in the first few paces, but absent of the first maybe 0.2 miles, the hike did not require them. Keep in mind I’m saying this as the owner of a beaten-up and destroyed pair of boots with horrible tread.

I opted to take the blue trail since I wasn’t crunched for time to opt for the shorter (and steeper) yellow trail. The blue trail switchbacks up the 950 feet it takes to ascent Rowe until eventually leveling out to a quick 0.3-mile ridge walk that allows nice views out to Gunstock and restricted views to the lake. By the time you pass the campsite, it levels out quite a bit which was surprising as I looked at my GPS to see I’d already done most of my gain.

Random little site

I got up the 2.25 miles in a little over an hour and didn’t spend too much time at the summit as it was just a small pile of rocks. When I turned around, I’d still yet to see anyone so after getting off the ridge I ducked into the woods to prove how hydrated I was when I saw my first person of the day. Sorry buddy, it was probably more awkward for you than me but hey, it happens.

Views out to Gunstock from the pre-summit rocks

Not all finishing views can be glamorous!

Coming down all the same switchbacks I went up felt longer as I could see all the trail beneath each of them, but was easy on my knees and didn’t remind me of how much I’d done between today and yesterday.

Between the two, Red Hill was my pick of the day, but I thought these two were a great combination for a semi-close adventure!

Mt. Rowe Stats: 4.57 miles, 948 gain, 1 guy who saw my butt.

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