Saturday, August 28, 2010

West Rattlesnake Mountain Hike

While we're up at Lake Winnipesaukee on family vacation, the weather will periodically prevent us from going out on the lake.  For instance, when it's too windy and there are white caps on the lake, it's not worth going out in the boat, so we look for other places to go and things to do.  There are a LOT of great hikes to do around the lake region, at least - from what I hear.  I've been wanting to get out and do some of the local kid-friendly hikes.

The first opportunity presented itself last Friday.  The boys and I headed over to the western side of Squam Lake to hike West Rattlesnake Mountain.  It's more like a large hill than a mountain per se, and it's a very kid-friendly hike.

Parking Lot

There are two small parking lots right on the road at the bottom of the trail that can accommodate about a dozen or so cars.  When we arrived at 10:30 a.m. on a Friday, there were only about three empty parking spots, and there was a steady flow of people both arriving and departing the parking lot.  Although we saw many people along the trail and at the summit, it was by no means crowded.

The trail head is right at the end of the parking lot, and there is a welcome kiosk with a trail map and information about the hike.  The kiosk also served as a sort of lost-and-found.  There was a hat and a camelbak bottle that I assume someone found along the trail and left at the kiosk for the owner to retrieve.

The trail is well-defined with a lot of man-made wood steps and gravel.  It is also well-marked with yellow trail blazes like in the photo above.

There were some stretches of hard-pack dirt or natural stones and tree roots to step over.

We arrived at what we thought was "the top" and spent some time there taking pictures.  

ES admiring Squam Lake from West Rattlesnake Mountain

The boys took turns taking pictures of each other.  I thought this series of pictures that my eldest son took of my youngest son were pretty funny:

However, THIS was my favorite picture of the day:
Self portrait with the boys overlooking Squam Lake.

After we had taken a bunch of pictures, we decided to continue on and look for two geocaches on top of West Rattlesnake.  As it turns out, our first view point was NOT, in fact, the top.  When we got to the summit, I said, "wow."

Panorama view from the top

Here from this view point near the summit, there is an earthcache, then just over the top of the summit is an actual physical geocache.

Found It!

Heading back down the hill again, the boys got a little excited and went a little faster than they should.  We ended up with two skinned / bloody knees as a result.  So be careful and watch your step on your way back down the hill.

Hike Stats:  When I'm searching for places to hike with my kids, I appreciate having some basic facts and figures about the hike for me to judge if it's doable with my kids.  With that in mind, I hope other parents considering this hike find the following information useful.
  • Date: 20 August 2010
  • Time of Departure: 10:30 a.m.
  • Time of Return: 12:39 p.m.
  • Elapsed:  2 hours 9 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  1 hr 5 minutes 
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  1 hr 4 minutes 
  • Mileage (GPS): 2.3 miles (Note this includes a small extra hike over the hill to get a geocache and back.  If you don't go for the geocache, then it'll be shorter.)
  • Avg Speed (GPS):  2.1 mph
  • Elevation Gain:  443 feet
  • Max Elevation:  1245 feet
  • Weather:   Sunny but breezy.
  • Winds:  It was fairly calm walking up in the woods, but out on the view point it was pretty breezy.  According to NH Weather, it was 5-10 mph NNW.
  • Air Temp: 64F climbing to 67F (from NH Weather)
  • Trail:  Well-defined trail.  Hard pack dirt or gravel.  Man-made wood steps or natural stones.
  • Hazards?  Some steep drop-offs - keep on eye on your kids.
  • Kit: Regular sneakers.  We brought our walking sticks but didn't really need them.  We all wore shorts.  The boys started out wearing sweatshirts, but had taken them off by the time we were done.  I took a sweatshirt wrapped around my waist, but never needed it.
  • Route:  There is a pamphlet with a trail map available in pdf format here.  On the Garmin Connect map below, you can click on "terrain" to see the 3D relief / elevation.  Also, if you click on the "Hike West Rattlesnake Mountain" banner and go to the Garmin Connect site you can see the actual altitude profile of our hike.  
  • [Note: If you are reading this in Google Reader, then you will not see the Garmin Connect map here for some reason.  You actually have to come to my blog to see the map of where we went from the GPS.]

After we got back in the car, I did a search in our car navigation system for the nearest restaurants to get lunch. The closest was Walter's Basin in Holderness, NH. I had recently heard that Walter's Basin was good, so we went to give it a try. It was a very nice place right on Squam Lake, and we had an excellent lunch there.

Lunch at Walter's Basin


Sagey said...

You really need to stop calling New England mountains "hills"! ;-)

Hilary said...

Looks like a beautiful day. Your boys are going to have so many fond memories of times spent with Dad.