Smarts Mountain | 5/30/22
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
With Memorial Day being the first holiday since the beginning of college all of us were home, it was about time for a family hike. Though my parents had their sights set on Welch-Dickey, I had a feeling that a holiday weekend and a beautiful day were the recipe for an overcrowded disaster. So after some extensive research, I settled on a mountain a little bit more off the beaten path whilst also being on the most beaten path: Smarts Mountain via the Appalachian Trail and Smarts Ranger Trail.
I found the way up far more pleasurable than the way down, for it was much better maintained and generally more interesting. This, however, is expected when comparing the AT to what used to be an access trail. The AT section began with a steep grade for about a mile before leveling out for mile two and then getting steep again in the last 1.5 miles. The ascent also provided ledges with views of the Dartmouth Skiway behind us and Smarts Mountain in front of us.
After intersecting trails, the final push to the top had a small ladder that aids hikers in going up the forever slippery rock. Then, with one final push after the ladder, the trail opens up to what feels like a small community. There's a tent site, a privy, a ranger cabin, and a fire tower. Which I suppose all make up for the lack of view. I can’t say I’d ever walked that far to see exclusively man-made things before.
The way down Smarts Ranger was muddy and buggy beyond belief. I almost wish we had gone back down the AT as I greatly preferred that route. Once we finished up, I made use of the stream by the parking lot for a quick dip before we shipped off to Hanover for an always great lunch at Molly’s!