Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Trail 2 Old Province Road to Sunapee Town Hall


The Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (SRKG or Greenway) is a 75-mile “emerald necklace” of fourteen hiking trails surrounding Lake Sunapee, crossing Sunapee, Ragged and Kearsarge mountains, and maintained by Greenway volunteers. The red arrow in the map points to Trail 2 – Old Province Road to Sunapee Town Office. The 7.3 miles hike is from the southern trailhead at Old Province Road, a gravel dead-end road in Goshen. The northern trailhead destination is the Sunapee Town Office. 




A fellow hiker, Mark, joined me in the hike.




Two days before the hike, my wife and I drove to Old Province Road, an uphill gravel road, ending at a four-car parking area. As we walked around, we were pleasantly surprised to learn we were on the western flank of Mount Sunapee. We spotted snow-making equipment, and we took a short path and found ourselves on top of South Peak and its snow-lift tramway. Given this area looks different in the winter, it took me a few minutes too realized I had skied on this slope. A further surprise was seeing the summit of Mount Sunapee before us. This overlook would be great for a future picnic lunch.
Summit Mt Sunapee from South Peak
As you walk down Old Providence Road and Brook Road you see clear views across the Connecticut River of snow covered trails of Okemo Mountain (30+ miles away) and Mt Ascutney (see if you can identify the tower on its summit) and numerous other Vermont peaks. 
Okemo Mountain, VT

We learned this SRKG Trail 2 southern trailhead, was also the northern trailhead of the SRKG Trail 1, leading to Newbury Harbor. We scouted two trails in one trip! We saw trail blaze signs for the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway.
Mt Ascutney, VT


Trail 2 starts down Province Road for a 1/2 mile, then a right on paved Brook Road for 1.3 miles, left onto Route 103, and almost immediately takes a right on Harding Hill Road. The hike down Brooks Road has stunning views across the Connecticut River of Mt Ascutney and snow-covered trails of Mt Okomo. A must stop for pictures.

We went about a mile on Harding Hill Road, seeing the trailhead on the right into the woods. There is parking for four cars across from this trailhead.

Not lost, just do not know where we are.

As Mark and I headed into the Harding Road trailhead, I told him a story about hiking a few years ago and needing to backtrack because I missed a trail sign at a turn.

Well, we walked ten or so minutes, and I asked him if he had seen the Greenway trapezoid sign. He said no, and after discussion, we felt we were on the correct trail. Fifteen minutes later, and we had not seen the SRKG blaze. So as all good hikers do when they do not know where they lost the trail, we turned around and headed back to find the sign we first saw on the trail. Lo and beyond, within a hundred feet of Harding Hill Road, we saw the trapezoid directing hikers to the right. 
Two days later, for the sake of those following in our footsteps on Trail 2, I returned and trimmed the branch that helped us miss the turn.  

Interestingly enough, the SRKG trail we were following, was parallel to the snowmobile trail we had initially taken, and the two paths joined at a junction just after we turned around. 

SRKG Trapezoids.

For the most part, the paths were well marked. Notwithstanding our oversight of the sign, there were a few spots where we did lose sight of the trapezoids.

One of us went ahead within sight of the other until the SRKG emblem was again spotted.

Black Flies

We both prepared for black flies, but at the start, the temperature was in the high 40’s, and no flies were present. We had no black flies until our last half hour of hiking. At that point, we felt like we were being eaten alive. Why did we not stop and put our repellent or bug nets on? Never gave it a thought as we were almost through with our 7.3-mile hike to the Sunapee Town Hall.

Habitat

The 5 ½ mile hike from Harding Hill Road went though maintained snowmobile and XC trails, a few small streams we crossed using its embedded rocks, unmaintained swamp paths, and trails with mud and water. At least three times we had to crawl under blowdowns across the trail. We had a few small hills to climb. Close to the end of the hike, we went down a very long steep treed slope very carefully.

Our hiking poles came in handy, and our hiking boots and gaiters were a necessity.

Friendly chats about our hiking, sailing, and kayaking experiences. We ate lunch at an overlook of Mt Sunapee with its snow-covered spring ski slopes. We visited a few spurs recommended in the SRK Greenway Trail Guide. We deviated off the main trail to see a beaver dam, visited a small stone cave noted with a sign reading, Bear Den, and had scenic views of Mt Sunapee, Mt Ascutney, and Mt Okemo.

Trail 2 is rated moderate by the SRK Greenway Trail Guide. I agree. The 3rd Edition of the book has Spur trails for each listed trail. The Guide is an excellent reference, so you “stop and smell the flowers” on your hike. If you did not make the Riverwalk Loop on Trail 3, it is a must to finish your trek on the Sunapee Harbor Riverwalk. Sunapeeharborriverway.com

We enjoyed the hike very much!




References



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" Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"
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Steve's 6th book is now available. Outdoor Play "Fun 4 Seniors" Volume III has trip preparations, routes, and narratives of bucket list places to go. Motivate 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 Kindle and Morgan Hill Bookstore, New London, NH, 
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