Two similar mountains sit just to the west of Manchester, N.H., called the Uncannonuc Mountains. Above the treetops on South Uncanoonuc Mountain rise a dozen or more cell towers easily seen from the Manchester area. The mountain reaches 1,321 feet above sea level. North Uncanoonuc has no towers and is 3 feet taller than it's twin. There are several hiking trails on both but only the summit of South Uncanoonuc can be reached by car.
I climbed South Uncanoonuc with Craig on a hazy and warm July 5. We parked near Uncanoonuc Lake and mindlessly headed up the first trail we encountered, not the one we intended. Too far into the hike to turn back, we realized we were on the Incline Trail -- the one that goes straight up the steep side of the mountain. From 1907 to about 1940, the Incline Railway operated along this path for recreational purposes. The now rock-covered railroad was so overrun with frogs, I had to check every boot landing to avoid squishing them.
We walked the road that circles the summit and passed by many cell towers but no open views. Back at the paved private road, we picked up the Summit Trail for our descent and soon came to an open view area. It was a hazy day and we could not see the Boston skyline, as advertised, but we could see Manchester and a good stretch of the Merrimack River Valley. Through woodland we descended the longer but easier Summit Trail, back to our starting point.
North Uncanoonuc was not developed like it's southern companion. Craig and I hiked the White Dot Trail, a relentless uphill climb that is occasionally quite steep.
It's a popular climb and we passed no less than 25 other hikers. Several other trails reach the summit via shorter or less steep climbs. From the summit we had long views to the south. We descended along the same White Dot Trail in order to find our car at the trailhead.
Neither of Uncanoonucs were an easy climb for me, a newly-minted member of the Double Nickels Club, but doable at a leisurely pace. It's not the height of the mountain or the length of the trail that matters, it's the distance between the contour lines. Check a map with contour lines to estimate difficulty. I always wear ankle binding boots on mountain hikes.
Uncanoonuc Mountains, North and South, Goffstown, N.H.
- Date: South Mountain -- July 5, 2015; North Mountain -- Aug. 7, 2015
- Distance: Didn't track distance but a mile or less, each.
- Weather: Partly cloudy both days, in the 80s, somewhat humid.
- Fee: none
- Pets: yes
- What I liked about these mountain hikes: Good exercise, good views, interesting history, only an hour or less to get to, fairly well marked trails (little confusing at the summit of South), popular hikes. Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials. (a horticultural gem!)
- What I didn't like about these hikes: little difficulty finding the trial heads, cell towers covering south mountain (but I do appreciate the cell service!)