40-Hold Your Breath – Dixville Notch SP

Table Rock from below.

Dixville Notch from Table Rock

Breathtaking.  Expansive.  Terrifying.  All appropriate words to describe Table Rock, which towers over Dixville Notch, home of The Balsams hotel.  My guidebook describes this as “without question the scariest, most spectacular overlook of any New Hampshire notch”, and it didn’t disappoint.  Imagine walking on top of 5-6 dining room tables placed end-to-end, sort of like a model on a runway.  Now imagine that on 3 sides there’s a vertical drop of a hundred feet or more.  Oh, and make the runway narrower and narrower as you approach the end.  And unlike the more popular overlooks in the parks, there is no protective railing to hold on to.  That gives you a good idea of what Table Rock is all about.  It’s not the kind of overlook that you stride confidently to the edge of, but instead crawl out on all fours.  I certainly wouldn’t take children (or dogs) here.

Table Rock

The Balsams from Table Rock

There are three routes to the top: a short, steep 3/10 mile almost straight up, the 1-mile Table Rock Trail from the western edge of the notch, and the mile and a half Three Brothers Trail starting from the state park to the east.   I chose Three Brothers.  With almost an inch of snow on the ground, it was hard to find the trail at times but using the faded yellow blazes on the trees I only briefly lost my way.  It was nicer because the hike starts at Huntington Cascade, which was just beginning to freeze up.

Huntington Cascade

Cinderella trees alongside the trail.

Frozen curlicues.

This being November, the trailhead parking lot and picnic area was empty.  Across the road was the Flume Brook Falls which, thanks to recent rains, was quite photogenic.  It’s not anywhere the size of The Flume in Franconia Notch but with the falls filling a narrow cleft in the rocks it’s still worth the visit.

Flume Brook Falls

I love the way the notch is just wide enough for the road to squeeze through.

The park is really quite small with no facilities other than the trails and picnic area.  But that’s really enough here  I love the little old cemetery by the picnic area of the family that struggled to settle this area back in the 1800’s.  If nothing else lights your fire, the view of The Balsams from across Lake Gloriette is iconic.  Happy travels!

The Balsams

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