Wednesday, July 25, 2012

(Almost) Bald Knob Hike

I've been wanting to go explore some of the trails around the Castle in the Clouds ever since I joined the Lakes Region Conservation Trust and received my waterproof trail map from them a couple of years ago.

I had originally planned to take the boys up to the Castle in the Clouds, park by the pond and hike out to Bald Knob along the Shannon Brook Trail.  However, I failed to take into consideration the business hours of the Castle in the Clouds and the fact that they close the gate down on Rt 171 at 4 p.m.  We got there just after 4 p.m. and just after they had closed the gate.  So instead of parking up at the pond, we parked at the small parking lot at the Shannon Brook trailhead just off of Rt. 171.

Welcome Kiosk and Trail Map
at Shannon Brook Trailhead off Rt. 171

Starting from down at Rt. 171 instead of up at the pond resulted in a shorter but steeper hike toward the top of Bald Knob. 

The trail is well-defined and marked with either paint or plastic markers on the trees.  Plus, they include mileages to the next trail or landmark.

There were some pretty nootka roses along the trail.

My boys and I hiked as far as the Bald Knob geocache, which is at a spot with a beautiful view south over Lake Winnipesaukee, including the Moultonborough Neck and Long Island.  I wanted to keep climbing to the top of Bald Knob, but the kids were tired and it was dinner time (we got started later than I had intended), so we headed back down to dinner.  Even so, it was an enjoyable hike and a good first exposure to the network of trails around the Castle in the Clouds.  I would like to go back and climb Turtleback someday, but I suspect I'll have to do that one without the boys.  Of note, LRCT has a hiker recognition patch you can earn by hiking all of the trails in the Castle in the Clouds property.  I'd like to earn that someday, too.

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: 25 July 2012 
  • Time of Departure: ~4:00 p.m.
  • Time of Return: ~6:15 p.m.
  • Elapsed:  2 hours 13 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  1 hr 23 minutes 
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  50 minutes 
  • Mileage (GPS): 2.57 miles (Note this is NOT the total mileage to the top of Bald Knob since we didn't make it all the way to the top.  This is the mileage to the geocache and back.)
  • Avg Speed (GPS):  1.8 mph
  • Elevation Gain:  1058 feet
  • Max Elevation:  1511 feet
  • Weather:   Sunny but breezy.
  • Winds:  According to NH Weather, it was 5-10 mph W, but I didn't really notice even the slightest breeze while we were hiking.
  • Air Temp: 75F (from NH Weather)
  • Trail:  Well-defined and marked trail.  Hard pack dirt.
  • Hazards?  Some poison ivy off the sides of the trails, but not much.
  • Kit: T-shirts, shorts, boys wore regular sneakers.  I wore my hiking boots, but I would have been fine in sneakers.  We were under the shade of trees most of the time and didn't need sun screen nearly as much as we needed bug spray.  There were a lot of mosquitoes.
  • Route:  At the trailhead parking lot on Rt 171 there is a kiosk with a trail map.  You can also buy the waterproof trail map from the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.  We went up the Shannon Brook Trail to the Bald Knob Cutoff Trail, but did not hike all the way to the top of Bald Knob.  There were no facilities available at the trailhead or anywhere along the trails we took.

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