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Gile Mountain: A Trip Up the Fire Tower

Aug 01, 2016 02:44PM ● By Victoria Pipas
Looking for a well-groomed hike in the area with just the right amount of elevation gain and the maximum view for a minimum of hiking? Look no farther than Gile Mountain in Norwich. Thanks to the work of the Upper Valley Trails Alliance and others, hundreds of feet of stone steps and gravel walkway have been installed in past years, making the path delightfully walkable.

Gile Mountain is an easy 1.4 miles round trip—an out-and-back trail. Begin at the trailhead by taking Turnpike Road in Norwich 5.8 miles until you reach the parking lot on the left side of the road. Park here and begin your journey. You’ll travel through the woods for a stretch before walking under the power lines and enjoying a small green clearing. Here the trail begins to get steeper, and this is where the impressive rockwork begins. Look forward to well-crafted stone steps, water bars for drainage, and stone cribbing to support the sides of the trail. You will pass mountain-biking trails that zigzag across the hiking path. Be wary of fast-traveling bikers as they zoom across the hillside!

After 0.7 miles of hiking, you’ll reach the fire-ranger’s old cabin, above which sits the fire tower. The brave might wish to climb the tower for an amazing view, with Moosilauke, Camel’s Hump, Mount Ascutney, and more all visible on a fine day. You might even catch sight of Baker Tower on the Dartmouth campus in the distance. When the wind blows, you might even experience some swaying on top of the tower. It’s a great place to enjoy a snack or a cool drink, or even a packed lunch. Descend the mountain the same way you came up, 0.7 miles back to the parking lot. Driving distance from Norwich is approximately 15 minutes.

Gile is a perfect hike for families and a well-used symbol of the Upper Valley community’s connection to the outdoors. This route sees dozens of hikers a day, so don’t be surprised if you catch your neighbors or friends hiking the trail as well. Since the Upper Valley Trails Alliance began its work here nearly a decade ago, what was once a stream of mud in spring will be a lasting pathway of stone, which will hold up well against its high traffic. Many use this trail for a quick morning hike with the dog, a post-work run, or even a family adventure in the spring, summer, winter, or fall. You and your family will be sure to return often to Gile after just one hike, for the path invites hikers to visit again and again.

For even more detailed descriptions of Gile Mountain and to access maps of the trail access routes, visit Trail Finder page and search Gile Mountain.

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