Nash Stream Forest

One of New Hampshire’s newest preserved lands, the Nash Stream Forest is a huge tract of northern forest purchased by the state in the 1990’s from timber companies.  Basically it preserves the entire Nash Stream watershed.  I’ve tried two different hikes here, one a few years ago to the Percy Peaks and today to Sugarloaf Mountain.

North Percy from South Percy

North Percy from South Percy

The Percy Peaks are two sugarloaf-shaped mountains at the southern end of the Nash Stream Forest.  These distinctive mountains are visible for miles around and consequently have great views.

Someone watching the trail

Someone keeping an eye on the trail

I took the standard trail from Nash Stream Rd. which leads directly into the notch between the two peaks.  From there, side hikes lead to both peaks.  I tried both, although the north peak is higher and has the best views.  Then, instead of returning the same way, I made it a loop hike by continuing on the Percy Loop trail, which, after passing a tentsite, swings around the north side of the mountain and returns to Nash Stream Rd about a mile upstream from where I parked the car.  The Percy Peaks are well worth the hike.DSC01067Today’s destination was Sugarloaf Mountain, which is less sugarloaf-shaped than the Percy Peaks, but being the former site of a fire tower, promised great views of the upper reach of Nash Stream.  When the tower was in use there was a warden’s cabin about a half mile from the peak, and this trail follows the jeep trail that led there.  Direct and unwavering in it’s approach, the trail sets a course and a grade and sticks with it the entire way, the result being a rather relentless and fairly steep 2-mile hike.DSC07544With high humidity and temperatures in the 80’s, I was soaked by the time I reached the top.  Fortunately there was a refreshing breeze but with the haze and clouds, the views weren’t that special.  I’ll bet this is much better in the fall when the air is drier and clearer.DSC07548Interestingly I saw probably 20 toads on the trail, which I wouldn’t have mentioned except that other hikers have also mentioned the number of them on this trail.  So I’ll rename this place Toad Mountain and call it quits.  The other thing worth mentioning was seeing dozens of White Admiral butterflies all along Nash Stream Road.

A White Admiral butterfly - just one of dozens on the road today

A White Admiral butterfly – just one of dozens on the road today

So taking the butterflies as a sign of a healthy ecosystem, I’m glad just knowing the Nash Stream Forest has been preserved.  Although I won’t be hurrying back to Sugarloaf Mountain any time soon, the Percy Peaks are always worth the hike.  Happy travels!

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