I was in New Hampshire for a Harry Potter convention and a friend and I decided to try and find a place to go “hiking” while we were there. I’m using quotations because I’m not a hiker. I live in Orlando where there are no hills. Any “hiking” that I do is on flat sandy trails, but we want to see mountains and trees that weren’t palm trees. We did a quick Google search and headed north to look for a place. During the drive, we saw a bunch of cars parked on the side of the highway. This was obviously a popular stop. We figured we would get out and look at the map to see how far the hike was.
Mind you we were at a convention, which means packing for multiple cosplays in one bag. If you have ever cosplayed before you know that isn’t easy. This means we didn’t have hiking gear just jeans, tennis shoes and a free tote I got at the convention. When we get out of the car we notice people with hiking boots, backpacks, and even some walking sticks. Uh oh, this may be a bad idea.
The map said there were three trails between 1.5 to 2.1 miles to reach the summit. We figure okay we can do that, we can always turn around! Yeah, let’s do it!! We pick the shorter Blue trail, go over to the start of the trail and it’s just a huge puddle. Muddy and gross, forget that. Let’s do the Orange trail which is 1.6 miles.
I looked online when I got home and a bunch of sites said this is an easy hike. I think they mean easy for hikers? I saw a couple of sites that listed it as moderate and family friendly. We did see lots of kids and dogs as well as some older people. I wouldn’t say it is easy for the non-hiking, non-athletic type of person like me. Of course, not realizing we picked the hardest trail, the orange trail, which I now know is called the Boulder Loop Trail (that should have been a hint). The orange trail starts out easy with a couple inclines here and there. It gets steeper and the inclines more frequent and we realize this might not be as easy as we thought it would be. No worries, we will just take breaks as needed and take it slow. We thought!
Nope. As soon as you stop the bugs swarm. I don’t know what kind of bugs they were but they were annoying like gnats. You couldn’t sit down for more than a minute without full blow bug swarm. So much for taking breaks and taking the trail slow!
We see random people that we use to help motivate us to keep going. An older couple, a woman carrying a baby on her back, if they can do it we can too! We keep on trucking.
Then we get to the fun part. The boulders! We see the orange paint that marks the trail but it is literally painted on random boulders. That’s not a trail! We are laughing at this point trying to follow some other people. The large boulders that you had to climb up and over using your hands and feet at the same time. You’re not on the edge of a cliff rock climbing or anything but you definitely have to carefully place your footing as they aren’t flat. You have to use your hands to try to get over and around these large boulders. Not easy when you are carrying a tote bag. It’s okay, we tell ourselves, the view at the end will be worth it.
We get to the final steep incline where you need to stop and step aside to let other people walk around the rocks to get by. There were small rocks that roll making the hiking in this area more difficult. We saw at least two people fall trying to climb back down the trail because of these tiny rocks. I’m scared for the hike back down this part.
If flattens out from there and you are rewarded with a partial view.
Keep going to the top and you get an amazing view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Look at it, just look, you don’t see that in Orlando!
We enjoyed our lunch with this amazing view realizing we just climbed a 1,100 feet elevation gain!
We talked to a couple that said we picked the hardest trail. They suggested going down the yellow as that is the easiest. They pointed us in the right direction and we headed down. The yellow trail is less rocky, more forest and is a little longer at 2.1 miles. You’ll notice a Blue and Yellow marker and if you look back at the trail map you will notice yellow turns into blue which leads back to the parking lot.
I found a stick to use as a walking stick because I was worried I would fall on the way down. It wasn’t too steep or anything but as a naturally clumsy person, it helped. I mean Yellow has to be better, it has a PUPPY on the trail!
We had to do some careful rock hopping to keep our feet dry as you have to cross the brook twice. Other than that I would say it was a much easier trail.
I think if you did your research before hand, ate a good breakfast and had the right gear the average person could do the hike. I would do it again now that I know what to expect, just maybe not in the middle of a convention. The view was just amazing!
Our last adventure —> Exploring Washington Oaks State Park