Pitcher Mountain
Stoddard, NH

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More Travel Info:
New Hampshire
The Heart of New England
Pitcher Mountain, New Hampshire:
Small Climb, Big Views
by Lori Hein

I've climbed
Pitcher Mountain some 50 times.  This beautiful, small peak sits
four miles from my family's cottage on
Stoddard, New Hampshire's Highland
and it's where we go to indulge our bodies in exercise and fill our souls
with beauty.  

My 50 climbs aren't a testament to my athletic ability, but to Pitcher Mountain's
accessibility. It's a mountain that welcomes you with quick, easy trails and
rewards you with a summit view that's hard to match.  A fabulous return on
time and energy invested.

The drive to Stoddard, itself a scenic pleasure from most New England
locations, delivers you to the Pitcher Mountain parking lot and trailhead on
Route 123.  

An Easy Scenic Climb

From the parking lot, the main hiking path, part of the Monadnock- Sunapee
Greenway, quickly offers up a choice.  A rocky path on the left heads into steep
woods and straight up the fault line. Time from trailhead to summit is about 15
minutes.  This is the trail we take when we're up for a bit of boulder-hopping or
when we want to be nestled in the cool, deep green embrace of trees.

A wide, singsong path on the right ascends gradually, skirting the high pastures
of the Faulkner family's 200-acre Pitcher Mountain Farm, home to about 50
tawny, long-haired Scottish Highlanders raised as beef cattle.  

This is the trail we take when we want to amble, to savor the first peek of
as it rises in the distance beyond the cows, farm and miles of
This is the trail we take when we want to follow the butterflies that seem to
know the path's gentle twists and turns.  This is the trail we take in winter, when
the steeper path is icebound.  Wider, sunstruck and well-trodden, this path
offers solid traction and the lovely crunch of snow underfoot.

360 Degree Panorama

On either route, the climb lasts less than a half-hour, but the 360-degree
panorama that greets you at the mountain's 2,163-foot top is endless.  A steel
fire tower stands anchored to the granite, and if the watchman is on duty, you
can climb into the observation room to chat, ogle the unspoiled mountain world
that spreads in every direction and see a photograph of the 1941
Stoddard-Marlow fire.  That blaze ravaged the two towns and destroyed Pitcher
Mountain's original wooden fire tower.  

But, in burning the mountaintop's tall trees, the
fire created the magical, unobstructed view, unusual
for a short, low-elevation climb.  And it provided
the nourishing soil required by the thousands
of blueberry bushes that today crown the summit.  

Blueberry Pickers Paradise

In late summer, climbers bring buckets and baskets
and coffee cans and collect the wild berries, leaving
a dollar or two in a tin that the Faulkners nail
to a parking lot tree. While some of Pitcher Mountain
is state-owned, the Faulkners own the parts most
day trippers visit.

As I stand on the summit for the 50th time, I turn myself around in a slow,
complete circle, drinking in ponds and lakes, farms and pastures, dense, rich
forests, and mountains tall and small.  I greet old friends like Mounts
Monadnock and Sunapee, Vermont's Green Mountain ski resorts lined up
across the Connecticut River Valley, and, on very special days when the air is
crystalline, the faraway crests of the White Mountains. I say hello to the dozens
of peaks whose names I've yet to learn.

I've come only 300 vertical feet from the parking lot. For the 50th time, I marvel
at this small walk that yields such big rewards.

About the Author:

Lori Hein has written over a hundred articles on a range of topics.  She's the author of  
"Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America" and publisher of the
world travel blog,
Ribbons of Highway , a Good Housekeeping Site of the Day.  She splits
her time between homes in the Boston area and Stoddard, NH.
Lori Hein
Pitcher Mountain's Fire Tower
The Heart of New England
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