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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Risitano

Kittredge Hill, Lucia's Lookout Northeast, Gove Northeast, Gove, and Bryant | 12/20/23

I was widely unsure whether it was worth writing a trip report for a hike I didn’t plan, particularly when I SHOULD be spending my time applying to internships, but here I am. It’s rare for me to go on a hike I don’t plan or contribute to, but this past Wednesday I had the opportunity to pick up some new bushwhacking skills from seasoned pros (to me) Dave and Liz. Though they’re both “not working on” the NH500, the list provided some great inspiration for a loop to avoid the snowmelt flooding. While this report is neither my creation nor execution, I figure it will at least be a fun read-back once I’m more comfortable with bushwhacking.

Sunrise over May Pond

The three of us departed at 6 am, for sunrise arrival in Pillsbury State Park, where we parked outside the gate on Route 31 in Washington, NH. The 5-summit loop opened with a brief road walk and entered the woods about a mile after crossing the bridge in front of the playground. Though we could have ascended Kittredge Hill via Mad Road Trail, we were fascinated by the two pits shown on Gaia accessed via bushwhack. Both pits, Pike Hill and Newport had nothing to see but a shallow depression in the ground as of December 2023. Regardless, the off-trail navigation was pleasant and provided ease for me in terms of listening to how to choose routes and what to look for from types of trees to following the topography.

The bridge

Bushwhacking up Kittredge Hill

By 9:30 am, we had ascended to the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway, where Kittredge Hill had an on-trail sign. The true high point was just a few feet into the woods, marked with a cairn covered in blowdowns, and a sign with a phone number to inquire about “cultural resources,” which turned into the day’s tagline. The next hour and change was an easy cruise along the MSG, we left the trail at Steve Galpin Shelter, an extremely well-kept Scout project with multiple bathrooms. We broke for lunch and then dipped back into the woods towards South Lucia’s Lookout, which, surprise, is viewless. A canister and a beautiful moss were carpeting throughout, so maybe that’s what Lucia was looking so fondly at.

Steve Galpin Shelter


From the summit, Dave led us around water and through logging cuts when possible until we reached the Five Summers Trail, a wet snowmobile-like trail that runs from the park. We didn’t spend too long on the trail before heading uphill towards Northeast Gove. The crux here was getting past the body of water that looked like a deformed whale- thankfully the far end of it was frozen over enough that we crossed no problem. The ascent of the first peak on the left side of the route went well- we ascended towards the plateau, rather than the highest part, because why make things harder for ourselves? I was largely a follower throughout this part- I started worrying about how little I packed for layers. Or should I say, plenty for an ordinary hike moving 30-minute miles, yet slim for an at-times slow bushwhack.

The hike from Northeast Gove to Gove felt long for me, at this point, I was in all of my layers. Certainly not cold, but aware of the fact that if we were out too like past dark I’d be uncomfortable. I was mad at myself, I’m way too careful all the time to have not considered the pace slow of a bushwhack, but I’m thankful I had an early season reminder to go overboard on gear. Past Gove, where we couldn’t find the canister despite standing at the high point, we got to watch the sunset over the turbines on Bean Mountain as we ascended the final peak, Bryant. Knowing I had dinner on the other side of this, my mood shifted drastically- especially considering we’d have a real trail to descend.

Bryant Mountain cannister

Sunset over Bean Mountain

Golden hour mushrooms

Sunset over MSG from Bryant

The trail though, was nowhere to be found. The topography was unforgiving, and despite Gaia saying we crossed the real trail, we were deep in a steep, leafy, boulder-strewn gully as the sun began to set. After we descended the gully, which warmed me RIGHT up, we noticed a cool rock on the ridge line with the sun setting behind it. We tried to move towards the ridge line but did so without anymore drastic elevation drops. Eventually, we sort of gave up on the ridge line and just aimed for the flatter topography we saw ahead. Until, all of a sudden, we went from side-legging down thick leaves to approaching a sudden blaze. Not only a blaze but a maintained, evidence of a traveled, trail. Yet, we weren’t on the trail on our handheld navigation… not that this is anything out of the ordinary.

Once we got to the trail, we were all fiending for dinner and figured we’d take whatever road it put us on. Turns out it would be the park road just after the playground. When we turned to see what the trail was, we realized we missed the most important cultural resource of them all. If only we’d gone to check out the cool rock we saw….

Well isn't that ironic

All said and done, I enjoyed the day despite my layering scare and dark start and stop. It sure is nice to step away from tracing now and then!

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