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Easy Hike to Open Vistas at Bayle Mountain

November 17, 2016
Sunny summit at Bayle Mountain.
Ethan HippleSunny summit at Bayle Mountain.

Highlights
Short hike in a secluded area to a bald knob with views of the Ossipee Mountains and Mount Washington Valley.

Directions
From the south, take NH 16 to Ossipee, N.H., exiting at NH 25. Turn left off the exit onto NH 25, go under the highway and then left at the T intersection to NH 16B. Turn right immediately onto Main St, and proceed through the village of Ossipee. After 0.6 miles, you’ll pass Dore Street on the left, and the road changes names to Moultonville Road. Continue onward for another 0.9 mile and make a right onto Ossipee Mountain Road. Continue on Ossipee Mountain road for 3.7 miles where you will see the beautiful Connor Pond boat access on your right. Continue on for 0.5 miles through an open field with a farmhouse, and then veer right on to Marble Road at the fork, keeping the one lane bridge on your left. Marble Road goes up the bank of the lovely Lovell River, which will be running on your left. After 0.5 miles, the small parking pull off will be on your right, just before a small bridge that crosses the river. If you cross the bridge, you’ve gone too far! Park in the parking area and walk up towards the bridge. Just prior to the bridge, two snowmobile trails/logging roads depart on your right. You will want to make a hard right and proceed uphill on the dirt road with the orange gate across it. Go through the gate and you are on your way!

Easy hike up Bayle Mountain
Ethan HippleEasy hike up Bayle Mountain

Description
Bayle Mountain is a treasure of a mountain, tucked in the hidden valleys of the little-visited but beautiful Ossipee Mountains. Sporting a short and steep ascent to a beautiful bald granite knob, this is a perfect hike for families with young kids, and this off-the-beaten-path adventure is perfect for those just looking for a quiet adventure away from the crowds of the White Mountains. We hiked it on a warm December day with a two-year-old and a five-year-old in tow, and everyone had a smile on their face, despite a few steep sections.

A word of caution—the wayfinding on this trip can be challenging as there are not many signs posted, and even finding the trailhead is an adventure, so try to read the directions carefully, and if you get off track, just retreat to the last obvious landmark and try again. The hike is worth the effort to find it!

Once you pass through the orange gate described in the directions above, proceed along the wide and wet snowmobile path for about a quarter of a mile, where you will proceed straight through a trail junction. Stay right at the next trail junction, and continue on the snowmobile trail.  After another half of a mile, the trail to the summit leaves the snowmobile trail on the left—your primary landmark will be a rock cairn on your left, at the height of land as the snowmobile trail heads to the right. Tricky to find but once you find the cairn, you are all set. Turn left on the summit trail, which is marked with RED blazes on trees and rocks, along with a rock cairn here and there.

From the snowmobile trail intersection, the trail to the summit is about 6/10 of a mile. The first section of the trail to the summit cuts across a steep slope. With lots of dry leaves on the ground, this part can be a bit tricky for little ones. Soon you will start ascending into a boulder field filled with truck sized boulders, caves, and great hiding spots. We had to stop and play a quick game of sardines here. Just continue to follow the red blazes.

Proceeding up, the trail gets a bit steeper and rockier., but before you know it, you emerge onto some granite slabs that will lead you to the summit with 360 degree views. To the south lies Mount Shaw and Black Snout, the highest mountains in the Ossipee Range, and to the north lies the Mount Washington Valley and Mount Chocorua.

There is plenty of room on the slabs to romp around, have a picnic, and just enjoy the sunshine. Wildfires have managed to keep this little summit free and clear of trees, making the views fantastic. The most recent fire was in May of 2015, so you will see plenty of evidence of that—char on the ground and blackened tree bark everywhere. It is a great place to teach kids about the role of naturally caused fires in maintaining a healthy forest. It removes dead wood and undergrowth, and has the side benefit of improving the view!

Continue back the way you came.

Playing in the rocks on Bayle Mountain
Ethan HipplePlaying in the rocks on Bayle Mountain

Plan B
If it’s a hot day, there is great swimming nearby. Aside from the beaches on nearby Ossipee Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee, one of our favorite roadside kid-friendly swimming holes is along the Bear Camp River a few miles north in Tamworth. Just proceed north on NH 16 to an intersection in Tamworth where NH 25 branches off to the west towards Plymouth. There is a McDonalds on your right–turn left on NH 25 and you will immediately see a bridge ahead that spans the Bearcamp River. Before you cross the bridge, turn right onto the gravel road that will bring you down to a small parking area at a large pool beneath the bridge. The pool is only 3-4 feet deep.  You can laze around in the calm waters here, and if the river is running high, you can float down the riffles and rapids underneath the bridge, then hop out and walk back to where you started.

Eating
The excellent Hobbs Tavern and Brewery is just north on NH 16 in Tamworth, with a full pub menu of burgers, wings, steaks, fish, and house-brewed beer. At the intersection of NH 16 and NH 25 in Tamworth is the Yankee Smokehouse, a well-known BBQ joint with great ribs, BBQ chicken, and all the fixings.


More information:

View a map to find the trailhead here.

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Ethan Hipple

Along with Kim Foley MacKinnon, Ethan Hipple writes AMC's Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog. He fell in love with the outdoors as a teenager, when he worked on a Student Conservation Association (SCA) trail crew. He has directed the New Hampshire Conservation Corps and is currently the Parks Director for Portland, Me., where he lives with his wife, Sarah, and their two kids. His latest book for AMC is Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, cowritten with Yemaya St. Clair.