Hall Mountain – Bear Brook’s Back Door -or- This Place Must be Haunted

Bear Brook State Park‘s main entrance is from the northwest, through the town of Allenstown.  But, being in the vicinity and with a few hours to spare, I decided to approach from the southeast, through the town of Candia.  My goal was to visit Hall Mountain and the trails in this remote section of the park.  Finding the trailhead was easy enough – find Podunk Road and drive to the entrance of the park.  Sure enough, there was a small parking lot with a sign to the Hall Mountain Trail.  Why Hall Mountain?  Doing some research about the park for a previous blog, I discovered that the mountain was “developed” as a picnic destination by the CCC back in the 1930’s and I wanted to see if there was anything left to see other than the white stone cairn shown in an old photograph from the time.  Sunset views would be an added bonus as it was getting late.

The top of Hall Mountain is almost entirely of milky quartz outcropping

The top of Hall Mountain is almost entirely of milky quartz outcropping

But any views from the top of Hall Mountain have long ago been obscured by the tree cover.  The top was rather park-like as if  the grass had been mown but was most likely a result of the thin soils covering the milky quartz summit.  There was certainly no trace of the cairn or any other structure that I could see.

This might be all that's left of the cairn shown in the CCC photo from the 1930's

This might be all that’s left of the cairn shown in the CCC photo from the 1930’s

Wanting to make a loop hike, I decided to follow the park’s trail map which showed a rather simple loop by connecting to the Hall Mountain Marsh Trail and returning on Podunk Road.  Although the trail map was last updated in 2013, it was still woefully inadequate on this end of the park.  The trail first skirted the edge of the park and private land in the town of Hooksett, at one point passing some rather creepy Tyvek-covered camps as it exited the park completely in order to cross a stream.

New trail signs are starting to appear

New trail signs are starting to appear

...although I couldn't help doing a little correcting

…although I couldn’t help doing a little correcting

Although park management has recently begun placing trail markers on prominent trees, there was only one to be found on the entire Hall Mountain Trail (at the very beginning) and I missed the 270-degree turn shown at the southernmost point and instead followed the double-stone walls of an old road, soon finding myself on the Ferret Trail.  Interestingly there’s a cellar hole with an adjoining well to be found at the intersection (and park gate) as well as some very well-built stone walls.  I’d like to know who lived here once.

An old well next to the Ferret Trail cellar hole

An old well next to the Ferret Trail cellar hole

But there was little time to spare and the Ferret Trail appeared to join up with the Hall Mountain Marsh Trail just past the next intersection.  Unfortunately the map is completely wrong here.  As far as I can tell, there is no Hall Mountain Marsh Trail.  Before long I found myself at the Bear Hill Pond Camp, which, fortunately, I’d remembered from a visit 2 years ago.  All this meant that I was an extra mile and a half out of my way with the day rapidly getting darker.  But at least I knew where I was.

The old CCC-built water tower at Bear Hill Pond Camp

The old CCC-built water tower at Bear Hill Pond Camp

Soon I was on the Podunk Road heading back towards my car.  Knowing of the bleak history of feuds and poverty in this area I would have liked to stop and locate more of the old cellar holes and abandoned homesteads that once dotted this road.  But there wasn’t time and I only found one probable candidate.  Instead, I was beginning to feel the ghosts of souls who have lived and died in this area, only to have most of their traces swallowed up by the forest.

The snowmobile signs were practically the only signs of civilization

The snowmobile signs were practically the only signs of civilization

Then finally, just as I passed the intersection with the Lynx Trail and neared the end of the road, the surrounding area opened up with several large, very old sugar maples on both sides of the road.  Sure enough, there on the west side of Podunk Road, was the biggest structure I’ve seen in the entire park.

Although nearly dark, you can still make out some of the walls of this large stone structure near the end of Podunk Road just before it leaves the park

Although nearly dark, you can still make out some of the walls of this large stone structure near the end of Podunk Road just before it leaves the park

Maybe it’s the site of an old hotel.  Maybe it’s the remains of an old high-drive barn from the 1890’s.  Or a mill.  Whatever it is (or was), it was big, and I definitely want to learn more about it.  Now I’ll have to visit during the day to really check it out.  If anyone knows, I hope they’ll tell me – or maybe I’ll just have to learn it from the ghosts themselves.  Happy (Spooky) trails!

End of blog.  Paging down may expose you to ads.

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2 responses to “Hall Mountain – Bear Brook’s Back Door -or- This Place Must be Haunted

  1. Did you ever learn more about the old inhabitants? Did they move or hang on stubbornly for a while?

    • I don’t know for sure but from the materials I had read it sounded like they stayed on as long as they could. I still know nothing about the big foundation mentioned at the end of this blog.

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