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3 Books & 5 Trails for Your Autumn Hiking Pleasure in New Hampshire and Vermont

Oct 16, 2017 11:41AM ● By Victoria Pipas
Are you looking for some trail inspiration this time of year? Maybe you already know you’re headed out and are just looking for some specific location guidance. Or you might be looking to get in the mood for hiking and hoping that a key piece of writing can inspire you. Whether it’s directional or literary guidance you seek, read on to add potential explorations to your autumn hiking list. We alternate between locally accessible hikes and hiking-related reads. When you finish a hike, begin a book, and vice versa!

Gile Mountain Trail

This trail offers perhaps the perfect way to explore the great outdoors while appreciating the craft of the stonemasonry that lines the trail in the form of granite steps and walkways. This is an easy, family-friendly, hour-long hike with the bonus of a great view at the top if you dare to ascend the fire tower and look out over the Upper Valley. Gile offers beautifully filtered autumn light for the whole hike; you’ll enjoy the colors of the season in all their splendor. This trail is highly popular on weekends, so if you can, consider taking it at a less crowded time.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

This hilarious and highly entertaining treatise on traipsing up the Appalachian Trail as a novice hiker is part autobiography and part history of the trail. To all AT hikers, Bryson delivers the common drive to press on: whether you have to keep going because of a passionate desire to earn your place atop Mt. Katahdin or to shed worries or weight, or simply because of a “powerful urge not to be [so] far south anymore.” Hikers reading this book will feel intense empathy for Bryson’s often absurd yet fulfilling experiences on the trail. Experienced hikers will enjoy Bryson’s humorous unpreparedness for his endeavor, while newer hikers might be comforted with the knowledge that, whatever dumb things they have done or might do on the trail, Bryson and his companion did something dumber. Enjoy the laughs.

Cardigan Mountain

Cardigan is a small, perfect gem of a mountain in the Upper Valley. Located In Canaan, New Hampshire, in its own state park, this mountain boasts a beautiful top of gleaming granite that glistens brightly with snow in the winter and shines beautifully in summer’s sunlight. In autumn, you’ll travel through a forest of autumn colors before the trail opens up into all of New Hampshire’s granite glory. The 360-degree views from the top sweep over several groups of small lakes and ponds, making for a spectacularly varied landscape. Bring binoculars to get the full effect.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

If you’re looking for a gripping, soul-wrenching, insightful memoir, look no farther than Strayed’s Wild. This story, told with ferocious honesty, depicts Strayed’s resolution as a destitute, motherless divorced 22-year-old who resolves to set out and hike the Pacific Crest Trail as a completely inexperienced hiker (a common theme among those attempting to reinvent their lives, it seems, is to face nature unprepared). Her journey, with all its uncomfortable, moving details, ultimately becomes more transformative than she could have imagined, and the reader gets the sense that writing this book was also a healing process for the author. This is a book for anyone who is grateful for the world around them or who is looking to become more grateful for their place in that world.

Moose Mountain

This lovely day hike offers a rural wilderness retreat within Hanover’s town limits. Its summer bounty is fields of blueberries, though this time of year, you’re more likely to see moose grazing. This hike should take about 3 hours, and at 2,300 feet in elevation, it never gets too arduous. You can do this trip as an out-and-back or as a loop. This is a route you might consider taking with snowshoes this winter.

Into the Wild by John Krakauer

Although not strictly a book about backpacking or through-hiking, this true tale is about journeying back to nature. Into the Wild is now an international bestseller and a moving motion picture directed by Sean Penn. The story traces a young man from his privileged, suburban lifestyle through his rejection of materialism, wealth, and society in favor of seclusion in various remote parts of the US and finally living in an abandoned bus. At once a tragic biography and a philosophical exploration, this book follows Transcendentalist writings such as those by Thoreau and Walden and transposes them into the modern era.

Mount Cube

This mountain, which hosts a section of the AT, has its main trailhead in Orford, New Hampshire. It’s the most substantial hike on this list at 6.6 miles round trip. The summit offers a beautiful, broad rock face with ledges ideal for sitting and gazing at the New England wilderness. The trail is an out-and-back, but if you have arranged pick-ups and drop-offs, you can actually continue along the ridge to Smarts Mountain for a longer hike.

What are your favorite go to fall hikes?

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