Friday, September 7, 2018

ORFS Hike Little Sunapee Associates Trail, New London, NH

Know where you are going

I volunteered to be the leader for the Outdoor Recreation for Seniors (ORFS) hike at the Little Sunapee Associates Trail in New London, NH. Given I had never hiked this area, I had to scout the trails. I went to the New London, NH Conservation Commission web site for a topographical trail map and trail descriptions.

Of importance in the topographical map of the Little Sunapee Associates Forest would be contour lines, streams, boundary lines such as fences, roads, stone walls, and elevations (hills). And of course, the color-coded marked trails.

The moderately difficult yellow to orange blossom trail was recommended as a 1½ hour hike for our ORFS group.

I visited the Little Sunapee Associates Forest the week before the ORFS hike to get familiar with the area and locate the recommended yellow and orange blossom trails. This on-site research showed difficulty locating trail signs. The trails also needed maintenance (e.g. hard to see trail signs, down trees across trails and overgrown forest growth). It appeared to me this trail had not been maintained for a few years.

My visit revealed the many pluses of the Little Sunapee Associates Trail outweighed its negatives. The forest has wetlands, a ten-foot rockbed  rippling stream from Little Sunapee Lake, unique red cardinal flowers, a moderate hill, different colors of mushrooms, stone walls, and ancient house foundations of farms and land for sheep and crops.

The Yellow Trail is the steepest trail on the property as shown in the trail map profile. The Yellow Trail starts at Gate 1 (G1) on Little Sunapee Road then follows along the brook from Little Sunapee Lake. The trail turns right at the edge of the I 89 right-of-way where it meets the Red Trail and both trails proceed together along the wire fence marking the right-of-way with stonewalls and foundations, and ascend nearly 200 feet in a quarter mile, and then plateaus to an intersection with the Blue Trail at Burnt Hill Road.  At this point an option is to exit to Burnt Hill Road. The Blue Trail can be followed right downhill parallel to Burnt Hill Road, and an intersection with the Orange Blossom Trail and proceeds down to an old logging road trail off of G3 on Burnt Hill Road. Right on this logging road ends at an unmarked gate (G2) on Little Sunapee Road.

OK, let’s look at the MAP

1.  First, we start at G1 on map (unmarked), which is an opening in the fence, below a posted tree sign, “Yellow Trail”.
2.  We immediately climb over a large fallen rotten tree, and in 175 paces come to a sign in the folk of the path with a Yellow left arrow and an Orange arrow to the right.  We continue left on the Yellow Trail.
3. On our left is an outlet stream from Little Sunapee Lake.  Think of a poetic bubbling stream flowing over moss covered rocks.  We listen to this soothing sound as we silently hike on the path.  Red Cardinal flowers in the stream are a hiker’s delight - we "stop and smell the flowers".
4.  We begin to hear traffic from Route 89. 
5.  Shortly we come to a wire fence and turn right on the path.  We are walking parallel to Route 89N. The steep ascent identified in the yellow trail description begins.  
6. We are still following the yellow trail, but the yellow markers are not plentiful, and we regularly pause searching for a yellow marker ahead.
7. We search for the trail and pause before seeing a tripple red paint mark on a tree and then yellow paint on a metal stake. We encounter a farmer stonewall on the left, and the the remnants of what appears to be a foundation. The now Red/Yellow trail gets steeper.
8. After peaking on the hill, we descend and up through a gully and see the road – Burnt Hill Road.  Burnt Hill Road could be a bailout road going right to Little Sunapee Road for another right to return to the parking area.  We agree to continue with the orange trail.  Not much change of getting lost on orange blossom trail because all you need to do is keep Burnt Hill Road in sight on your left.
9. We follow the blue and orange signs, sometimes needing to stop and wander about before locating the next sign. Eventually we come to an old wood road.  Our map shows this old logging road from G3 on Burnt Hill Road. We go right on the old logging road .  The road runs parallels to Little Sunapee Road and we hear cars. We come to Gate 2 (unmarked).  We exit at Gate 2 onto Little Sunapee Road, whence we go right and back to our parking area and lunch with our kayaking ORFS friends.

Little Chance of Getting Lost
Certainly bring a whistle and a compass.  In describing the area of Little Sunapee Associates Forest… it is like a square.  If you stay within the square and go in one direction you will come out to an access area. If lost:
  • Going East you will come to Burnt Hill Road.
  • Go south you come to Little Sunapee Road.
  • Go west and you come to the stream, and then go South to Little Sunapee Road.
  • Go North you come to Route 89. You then go East to Burnt Hill Road, or South to Little Sunapee Road.
Let's Hike the Trail

Now, I never have to say, "I wish I had hiked the Little Sunapee Associates Forest Trail".

Topographic Map

The distinctive characteristic of a topographic map is the use of contour lines to show the shape of the earth's surface. USGS topographic maps also show many other kinds of geographic features, including roads, railroads, rivers, streams, lakes, buildings, built-up areas, boundaries, place or feature names, mountains, elevations, survey control points, vegetation types, and much more.

A contour line joins points of equal height. Contours make it possible to show the height and shape of mountains, depths of the ocean bottom, and steepness of slopes. Basically, contours are imaginary lines that join points of equal elevation on the surface of the land above or below a reference surface, usually mean sea level. (


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 Outdoor Play Volume II has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. The book motivates friends and family to make the outdoors a key component of their daily life.

Steve’s books are also available as hardcopy and e-Books at Amazon's Kindle and Morgan Hill Bookstore (New London, NH.)

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