Taking off early from work and avoiding the logjam that was 93 past the tolls on this Labor Day Friday, I took my new favorite bypass and on South Bow Road passed a kiosk that looked suspiciously hikey. Banging a U-turn in non-existent traffic, why, yes, indeed, it was a trail.
Hmm, Great Hill? Well, this clearly wasn't some flat walk through the woods. A map further enticed me with the magic words "Scenic Overlook." Hmmm, no liquids, no food, no compass, no backpack, cotton clothes. This was surely a death trap, but I could think of worse ways to go. Onward.
Whoever built these trails knew what the hell they were doing. Superb rock waterbars at the right places were evident. It was a gorgeous day, full of sun, not too hot, and the grades were mighty swell on these withering hiking legs of mine. Quickly you come to a view of Monadnock and Crotched.
A loop goes over Great Hill, and there's a nice view east from the right hand choice. Haven't climbed it, haven't climbed it, climbed it, climbed it, for those keeping score.
Great Hill wasn't all that great, no views to speak of except a tiny section of Kearsarge. I zig zagged all over the place on the two high contours just in case this was the town highpoint. T'weren't. Add another peak to the Named Peak List I guess. If I cared. To the junction, feeling good, so I headed off to the overlook on Nancy's Trail, a little dismayed that I seemed to be going downhill more than I cared for.
A spur to a view that wasn't much of a view, down some more, and another junction not shown on the map (Glacial Boulder or something like that). At one point I came to another unsigned junction, save for an arrow pointing right along the yellow blazed path I had been following. The straight ahead path was blue blazed, perhaps a ski trail? Further along is the Steer Brook junction (and seeing how dry it's been, the brook freaking stunk). I took the very short trip to the Hidden Cave, which was only mildly interesting.
Shortly after is Duck Bill Ledge, which I thought was damned near the coolest natural rock feature I've seen short of the Old Man. Not being marked on the map, it was an especially pleasant surprise.
The overlook was nice, though similar to the view below Great Hill.
I thought about shortcutting it down to the road, but a prominent No Trespassing sign hung at the overlook in the direction I wanted to go (most of the hike is on town land, but the overlook and Great Hill are on private land), so back on the trail. Made good time out, and the uphill wasn't annoying at all.
So, a well worth 3.5 mile jaunt, and amazingly I survived without getting a $450,000 negligent hiker bill for carrying zero of the 10 essentials (unless a cell phone and 3 pens count). The southern trailhead I used is on South Bow Road, just east of the powerlines not far from the Woodhill Road junction. There's a small turnout for about 3 or 4 cars.